16:15 Ayr - Ballymore set for gold in big sprint
The Ayr Bronze Cup is the betting feature of the day; and Ballymore Castle gets the nod from stall 21 - as the horse is too well-handicapped to ignore.
In these six furlong, big-field sprints at the Scottish venue (especially with ease in the ground), I prefer a horse that stays seven, and Ballymore Castle certainly gets that distance well, and looks the type that should relish a charge in chasing a stack of runners.
He held some pretty good form as a juvenile and was officially rated 100 in 2015. Given he is down to a mark of 84 these days highlights just what a good perch he will race from on Friday. I was encouraged with his outing last time at Haydock - a race where they went a good pace in a 0-90 handicap, so it was pleasing he returned to form in finishing second behind William Haggas' well-treated Valley Of Fire.
His trainer Richard Fahey mentioned he was a horse he liked in his younger days, and he also possesses a good, laid-back temperament. He races from a low weight and has a few of his stablemates around him - including a possible pacesetter in Lexi's Hero in 15, and we know he acts in soft ground. He hasn't won for a while, hopefully that can change on Friday.
There is also a five places market available on the Bronze Cup, in which Ballymore Castle trades at 3.309/4.
17:35 Hexham - Hammond's Paradiso to relish stiffer test
Not many horses that run at Hexham on Friday will be able to boast the pedigree of Gran Paradiso - who started life with Aidan O'Brien and now runs for Micky Hammond.
The Galileo four-year-old's dam is a half-sister to Derby winner Ruler Of The World and Duke Of Marmalade, and he could prove to be a decent purchase at 30,000 guineas for his new connections starting with this novices' hurdle.
Of course that pedigree means nowt if he can't jump.
Granted this contest wouldn't be an obvious port of call for a punting race for many, but Hexham ranks as one of my favourite tracks - simply because if you've got a stayer - you've got half a chance.
Gran Paradiso scored at Sedgefield last time out in a race run at a steady pace, and whilst the form could be knocked because of that, Hammond's horse deserves credit as he was outpaced himself at a sharper track, the rider that day lost his irons late on, and he still managed to beat three higher rated horses in the line-up (with one officially at 125).
He jumped more fluently there too, and the Sedgefield contest looked above-average for the track and the time of year. He is bound to relish this stiff course, as I have had my eye on him after he ran over Pontefract's 2m2f on the flat earlier this summer - a race he trailed in last.
His rivals include Wazowski - who is probably flattered by his rating and was behind the selection at Sedgefield last time, and Black Ivory who scored in a weak bumper at the track. The latter made the running last time which could suit Gran Paradiso - and this might not be as strong as the race he was victorious in at Sedgefield.
We also have the added bonus of the excellent Finian O'Toole as jockey to claim seven pounds.
Friday's Recommended Bets (both half point)
Back Ballymore Castle @ 15.014/1 in the 16:15 at Ayr
Back Gran Paradiso @ 3.505/2 in the 17:35 at Hexham