If you ever want to buy Tony Calvin a gift for putting you onto a winner or two then make sure you don't go near a DVD of the epic film Spartacus. Here's Tony's explanation as to why, and his recommended bets for day one of the Chester May meeting...
Chester has never been a particularly happy punting ground for me, and one of my most frustrating betting experiences came in the Dee Stakes at this meeting in 2005.
I remember quite a few of us in Betfair's Hammersmith office looking at the race in the morning, and wondering just why I'm Spartacus was trading at 100.099/1+ on the exchange.
It soon wasn't.
He came into the race after a career-best effort in handicap company the week before and was taking on some pretty beatable and underpriced horses, headed by Aidan O'Brien's Gypsy King, who was the 2-1 favourite having only won a heavy ground race at odds of 4-9 the year before.
So we all lumped on and nearly took the roof off the gaff as 33-1 I'm Spartacus took it up approaching the final furlong, looking sure to hold on - only for Gypsy King to come from out of the clouds and nail (sorry, Kirk Douglas fans, I couldn't resist it) us on the line. I was crucified (unlike Victor Moses, I do not turn down the invitation of converting an open goal, so apologies again).
Imagine my joy when I'm Spartacus went on to dot up in a York handicap at the Dante meeting and the Group 3 Gallinule Stakes on his next two starts.
Those kind of betting near-misses are all part and parcel of the game, though it has to be said that Chester is probably some way down my personal list of favourite punting tracks.
Chester 14:45 - Glenard & Communicator
But every race has to be judged on its merits, and I am going to fly in the face of Chester logic and side with the 14-drawn Glenard in the Chester Cup at 14:45. Back him at odds of 11.010/1 or better.
Everyone knows that in all races at Chester, not just the sprints, that there is a glaring advantage in being drawn low.
But the trade-off there is that by siding with the obvious you have to take a lesser price, and by going with wide-drawn horses you get bigger odds than would normally have been the case. And I think Glenard would have been vying for favouritism from a single-figure stall.
Considering he was still considered a big and backward horse last season, he progressed into a decent middle-distance handicapper, and he certainly looked to have made good progress from three to four when sixth on his reappearance in a 2m conditions race at Kempton in March.
Admittedly, the form of that race hasn't worked out too well - which is why he has been dropped a handy 1lb in the weights - but he wasn't given a hard time at all there, and it proved to connections that he is likely to stay this trip, so the long-term Chester Cup plan was confirmed.
I anticipate a much-improved performance from him here. Mubaraza heads the market and I can see the argument for him, but at just over 5-1, he is not a tempting price.
I will take two against the field though, as Communicator looks a fair alternative at odds of 12.5. He is well drawn in two, stays well, has winning course form and the assistance of excellent 3lb claimer Oisin Murphy. Nothing sexy, but solid; wife, rather than mistress, material but none the worse for it.
I can't see much of an edge in the Lily Agnes Stakes at 13:45 - the draw is very important here and the market has that well covered - but I was going to to take a chance on Ballista at 15:15.
Until the price shortened two points at around 6pm on Tuesday evening.
A draw in seven is not ideal but he can fly out of the stalls when in the mood, as he did when winning a conditions race at this meeting last year. He has been running well on the all-weather recently, a falling mark of 101 is very workable and he invariably runs well here.
But I wasn't expecting to be backing him at around 8.27/1 so he is reluctantly passed over.
Chester 14:15 - Pyschometry
The front two in the Cheshire Oaks betting look beatable and they take out a massive chunk of the market, so I am going to take them on with Pyschometry.
Admittedly, with so many unexposed horses in here, this is a bit of guessing game and the selection has stamina questions to answer.
But her dam won over 1m2f for the stable, the Michael Stoute team are beginning to click into top gear, and the word is that she has been working much better than a 81-rated filly at home and I certainly wasn't expecting her to be available to back at 8.27/1 or bigger.
Although she is rated quite lowly, there is no stand-out filly on form in this, and she rates a small-stakes investment at the price.
Back Glenard @ 11.010/1 - Chester 14:45
Back Communicator @ 12.5 - Chester 14:45
Back Pyschometry @ 8.27/1 - Chester 14:15