The ITV cameras are at Ascot, Newmarket and Redcar on Saturday afternoon and Tony Calvin has a quartet of fresh bets for you to consider on a busy weekend of racing...
"Lake Volta and Raydiance are the two that I can see going to the front, and I think the former could run a huge race if winning that mini-battle and getting on the stands' rail."
I put up So Beloved at 33/1 each way, five places, in Tuesday's ante-post column, and I am obviously very happy with that position going into Ascot's Challenge Cup on Saturday at 15:10.
Here is the case I made for him earlier in the week so hopefully he gets to the start now and gives us a run for our money, something that didn't happen when I put up Bedouin's Story in the Cambridgeshire, as we lost him on the day of the race with an abscess.
Obviously, the price has gone on So Beloved to a fair degree now, so I have no need to press up here, though it is clearly no negative to see that his 7lb claimer, Angus "the baby-faced assassin" Villiers, has banged in a couple of nice handicap winners since I wrote the piece.
I couldn't put you off him if you aren't already on, as I think he is weighted to run a huge race - being on the flanks always troubles me though, so being drawn 18 of 18 may not be ideal - but I do want a fresh, second string to my bow in this 7f handicap.
Time to swim or sink with Lake in the Challenge Cup
The ever-so-solid Ascot crew of Raising Sand, Ripp Orf and Kynren have to be on anyone's each-way list such is their consistency of effort, and John Gosden, fresh from winning the aforementioned Cambridgeshire with Lord North, saddles a similar type here in Casanova. Ignore his lightly-raced improvers at your peril.
Summerghand is interesting at his first attempt at 7f and presumably trainer David O'Meara (who saddles five in here, including So Beloved), now accepts that the 5yo goes on soft, though the combination of the trip and ground is a fair question mark.
In truth, you could go through the field giving them all a decent name check of sorts, so it is time for one of my favourite, oft-used phrases to get an airing - shit or get off the pot - and Lake Volta gets the call up at [50.0] on the Exchange.
After watching the first three races at Ascot on Friday, I very nearly pulled the tip, as it looks more heavy than soft, but I will stick with him, but to minimum stakes.
To be honest, I was going to bite the bullet and put up Bedouin's Story instead - and I will probably, personally, throw a few quid at him on the exchange before the off, too - but what little pace there is in this race (and, strikingly, none of the 18 are habitual front-runners) is drawn middle to high (good news for So Beloved), so I think he could get detached from stall three.
Chelmsford run and sixth in this race last year offers encouragement
Lake Volta and Raydiance are the two that I can see going to the front, and I think the former could run a huge race if winning that mini-battle and getting on the stands' rail.
Mind you, he may not need to, as Raydiance ran at Ascot on Friday, so whether he rocks up again is anyone's guess.
The selection finished just under four lengths sixth to Raising Sand and Ripp Orf in this race on soft ground last year after making the running, but crucially he had to do so towards the far side from stall one.
So, given the first five home were drawn 17-18-15-11-16, you have to mark up that effort appreciably, and that came off a 6lb higher mark than this.
He clearly hasn't been running well of late - he has come down 9lb in the weights since making all over 6f at Goodwood in May - but he has run creditably on all four outings at this track, he goes on any ground, and a look at his Chelmsford run last time gives me confidence he may be able to strike form again.
His 5lb claimer tried to get him across on the rail from his wide draw there, but he got consistently blocked in trying to do so, and he turned into the straight second-last. But he stuck on well enough to be beaten just 4½ lengths, so I probably take a more charitable view than most of that run.
There are obviously negatives when you play at my usual prices, and there is no getting away that his stamina could be called into question over 7f on very soft ground in a big field (you may want to consider an in-running lay), but he surely is no 40/1+, poke.
In fact, looking at conditions, I will also, after all, side with Bedouin's Story each way at 8/1 too, five places. He will handle the ground, is improving and his assured stamina (and pedigree for further) could be invaluable in the ground.
Raakib could be a sizzling bet in the Cumberland
In his Weekender column, Karl Burke was pretty bullish about the chances of his True Mason in the opening 5f Listed race at 14:00, even though his claims on form (he is rated a stone shy of two of his rivals) and on the clock are hardly bet-inducing.
Make of that what you will - and he was well backed for a Haydock handicap last week before that meeting was abandoned - but maybe 5f on soft ground is what he wants, and he wasn't disgraced in an admittedly weak Group 1 at the Curragh last month.
It is not my cup of tea, though. The race looks too tough for this ageing soul to solve.
Every year that that the Cumberland Lodge at 14:35 comes around, the immediate thought that comes into my head is of buying a very large sausage (or two) at Tesco's hot counter.
And eating it (or them) in the car park.
You may be better off popping to the supermarket and chucking a fiver at the sizeable sizzlers than trying to solve this seven-runner race, as I can rule out precisely none of the septet.
Raakib Alhawa is probably the most interesting, not least because he has always kept good company since his debut success (on good to soft, from the Queen's Vase winner Dashing Willoughby) and he stepped forward a good deal after a break to win at Windsor in August.
That form puts him on the coat-tails of the form horses here but I suppose the big question mark with him is soft ground, given he was last of 5 on it at York in May his Windsor came on good to firm.
But he had a break after that modest run, so maybe he wasn't in peak form there - and jumping to conclusions after one run is not wise, anyway - and his sire Kingman handled such ground well, and his dam won on soft too, so that gives you some encouragement.
So, after looking to sit this one out, I am going to chuck a few quid his way at [10.0] or bigger.
I am not sure about the wisdom of having two all-aged Listed/Group 3 sprints on the same card, but the 6f contest at 15:40 hasn't got me enthused.
Maybe Cape Byron, maybe Raucous at a bigger price, but definitely no bet from me. Sorry.
Summer Sands will obviously waltz in off 8st 3lb in the Redcar Two Year Old Trophy at 14:55 if reproducing his 2-length third to Earthlight in the Middle Park last Saturday.
But do you want to backing him at around evens in a race with a bigger field and different tempo, just a week after a massive career-best?
The answer is no. Then again, I wouldn't particularly want to lay him either, given he has a minimum of a stone in hand on that Newmarket run.
In-form Haggas can land Newmarket opener
We also have three ITV races at Newmarket to go at - and there is also the small matter of the Saturday Longchamp to consider too, for those so minded - and first up at HQ is the 14-runner 1m2f fillies' handicap at 13:40.
There are stamina and ground doubts about Nkosikazi in here, but she has enough going for her to get a few quid of my money at [13.0] or bigger.
She was narrowly denied over 1m here, in a good time, in July and was having her first run since when a staying-on fourth over the same trip at Lingfield at the end of August.
The latter run suggested this longer trip was worth a try, as does her breeding to a degree, as she is by Cape Cross out of a lightly-raced mare who was placed over 1m4f.
The only time she has faced soft ground she finished stone last, but William Haggas - who is operating at a 30% strike rate of late after a brief quiet spell - is an expert placer of his horses, and he will know that the horse's two winning half-brothers both went on heavy. And it was soft (good to soft in places) on Friday morning, so maybe the ground won't be that bad.
So she is worth chancing, especially with Cieran Fallon taking off 3lb.
As with Summer Sands at Redcar, Under The Stars has outstanding claims in the 14:15 and is probably not that a bad a price at 2/1+, but not for me, ta.
There are positive noises being muttered about dual Classic winner Hermosa in the Sun Chariot at 13:40 but it looks far too trappy to me, with a fistful of likely winners. I'm a big fan of Lavender's Blue, but not enough to back her, up in class, at her price of around 7/1.
PROFIT AND LOSS TOTAL +225.1
April 14 2017 to Oct 4 2019 inclusive (all recommended exchange bets are settled at Betfair SP)
Back Nkosikazi at [13.0] or bigger in the 13:40 at Newmarket
Back Raakib Alhawa at [10.0] or bigger in the 14:35 at Ascot
Lake Volta at [50.0] or bigger in the 15:10 at Ascot
Back Bedouins Story at 8/1 in the 15:10 at Ascot
ANTE-POST ALREADY ADVISED
So Beloved at 33/1 each way, five places, in the 15:10 at Ascot