Racing tipster Tony Calvin has had an antepost look at the Challenge Cup this Saturday and fancies Burnt Sugar at a very attractive price...
"As previously mentioned, he has also run three of his better races since his 2yo days at this track, and if he comes to back the form of his Wokingham run in June then he will near as damnit win this race off his current mark."
You are going to have to wait until Friday for my wider weekend thoughts - some hardship, eh? -because I am concentrating solely on Saturday's Challenge Cup at Ascot and specifically the claims of Burnt Sugar at odds of 34.033/1.
That is a price mirrored elsewhere in the marketplace, too, and on closer inspection I think the 33s is plain wrong.
And 25-1+ would still be on the attractive side.
This argument may take up five minutes of your time, but hopefully it'll be worth it. I think this has all the hallmarks of a two-month plot by some very shrewd owners, who have played a blinder in getting their recent acquisition in here off a mark of just 99.
Getting into these valuable handicaps - and there are few, if any, bigger than this 180k race - is often half the battle, maybe more. They are so competitive. But he only needs one to come out to get in, and they look to have played the fine handicapping line to perfection.
Let's take a look at the horse's back-form first before we look at the recent efforts.
This horse was rated 112 after winning the Group 3 Sirenia Stakes at Kempton and finishing a length fourth in the Group 1 Lagardere in 2014, but he clearly hasn't gone on from there as would have been hoped.
In fact, he is 0 from 19 on turf, which is hardly bet-inducing I accept and takes some doing for a horse of his ability, and many will dismiss him as an out-of-form horse for whom the application of blinkers last season has done little for his winning appetite.
But in fact he has a whole host of solid, big-field handicap form - including when fourth over course and distance last July - and three of his better efforts have come at this track.
One of those was a sixth in this year's Wokingham, where he made his move late from the rear and crucially closest to the unfavoured stand rail, after which Middleham Park Racing acquired him at the Horses In Training Sales in July.
When looking to syndicate the colt on their website afterwards the new owners - who I think are one of the shrewdest outfits in the business - referenced his mark of 106, from 112, and said that he "looks perfect for big races...like Ascot handicaps etc, which all carry huge prize moneys pots."
Well, they and their trainer have done their job getting the horse on the cusp of getting into this 180k pot on a mark of 99, some 7lb lower than that excellent Wokingham run, where he was beaten less than four lengths.
The question is now is he in the form to exploit it?
The handicapper suggests not, and there is little doubt the strict form of his last four starts give him little chance in such a fiercely competitive race.
I feel strongly that 7f is what he wants these days, though, and two of those four runs have come over 5f. And on other two occasions this confirmed hold-up performer has been played far too early, whether by accident of design, over 6f and 6f110yd at Doncaster.
He was in front at the 2f marker when dropping away to finish last of five in July, and he was again ridden far too aggressively when in front at the same stage last time (he was far quicker away than he usually is and was, uncommonly, prominent throughout) only to predictably drop away soon after.
Now, he may have issues and could have gone at the game, and he did wear a first-time tongue tie at Doncaster last time.
But this horse's history suggests that he is ground-versatile, wants a strongly-run 7f in a big field - his last four runs have come in races consisting of just five to 10 runners - and needs holding up to at least the furlong marker before being unleashed.
As previously mentioned, he has also run three of his better races since his 2yo days at this track, and if he comes to back the form of his Wokingham run in June then he will near as damnit win this race off his current mark.
He was a late withdrawal from this race on the Friday last season (when a 16-1 chance), but if he shows up as expected - or rather hoped - then the year-long wait for compensation will have been well worth it.
Back Burnt Sugar at 34.033/1 in the Challenge Cup at Ascot on Saturday