The Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster is the first big betting heat of the new flat season and our man Tony Calvin has a big-price selection for you to consider as well as punts at Kempton and Newbury...
"My fancy Secret Brief is far more exposed, but we know that he can be competitive off this mark, has solid course form in a big-field handicap, and should benefit from the drying conditions at Doncaster in the latter part of this week."
Possibly the sign of things to come with only three races live on Channel 4 and the big betting heat of the day is second on the card at Doncaster - it looks like the channel will be heavily prioritising Formula One this year - but at least we have six more contests on More4 (channel 138 on Sky), and there is certainly no shortage of punting opportunities.
Meydan form the Secret to success for high-drawn Brief
The 22-runner Lincoln at 14:45 is the obvious place to start when addressing Saturday's action and Secret Brief gets my vote at 24.023/1 from stall 22 of 22.
Only time will tell whether or not being drawn tight on the stands rail is a negative, but recent results suggests there is no real bias. But who knows where the pace will gravitate to, or if some of the jockeys will pick up on a favourable strip of ground in the drying conditions.
In short, I think it is best not to let any draw put you off in the slightest. I previewed this race in my ante-post column on Tuesday morning - read it here - and kept my powder dry, but I am now willing to get it wet.
As I mentioned in that piece earlier in the week, it is hard to really quibble with any of the market leaders, though whether Lord Of The Land should now be as short as 7.06/1 is arguable - and he is 4-1 with some firms - for all his sexy profile from a yard to be feared.
My fancy Secret Brief is far more exposed, but we know that he can be competitive off this mark, has solid course form in a big-field handicap, and should benefit from the drying conditions at Doncaster in the latter part of this week.
Although he has run well off his current mark in two of his three most recent starts, I am basing his chance on his third to Farlow over 7f here last August, where I think he was an unlucky loser. Well, not unlucky as such, but he would have won with a better ride in my opinion.
He was always playing catch up from a tardy start that day but he travelled well ominously well from too far off the pace for much of the contest, and stayed on eye-catchingly into third after also not getting a trouble-free passage.
We know that this extra furlong will pose no problems, and it is also encouraging that the few horses that his stable have run of late have done well.
And another interesting angle is that he comes here after running in Dubai six weeks ago, where he actually did very well to finish third from his wide draw after a slow start, where Udododont finished 1¼ lengths ahead of him after a much better passage.
That is the same Meydan path as Ocean Tempest took when winning this race in 2014 and also Sweet Lightning three years earlier, so here is hoping that a bit of early-season sunshine does the trick for him too and at 22-1+ he has a very fair chance in an open race.
Moore booking a plus for Azraff
The Lincoln was the long-term plan for Azraff and connections went to the trouble of booking Ryan Moore too, but he was balloted out of the main race and instead has to take his chance in the Spring Mile at 14:15.
He is worth a nibble at 10.09/1.
He largely failed to build upon the promise of his fourth to Time Test at Newbury last May, despite running some decent races in defeat, and that was seemingly down to a reluctance to get his head and down and go into battle.
So hopefully a gelding operation since a fair fourth at Chelmsford in October has perversely made more of a man of him, and I think he is handicapped to win a decent prize if he puts it all in. The re-application of the blinkers, and Moore on board, will certainly help in that regard and he does have some good course and distance form, too.
Dexter the marginal call in trappy Cambridge Trophy
The Cammidge Trophy at 15:20 has attracted a high-class field for a listed content, including 2014 Abbaye winner Move In Time, Good Friday Lingfield winner Alben Star, Maarek, David O'Meara's French acquisition Suedois (the highest rated horse in the race on 111), and Jack Dexter, the standing dish in this race.
Marginal preference would be for course specialist Jack Dexter at 7-1+, who won this contest in 2013 and who has run well in the last two renewals. You would think this race has been the target for him for some time - and any more rain would be in his favour though he has form on a better surface - but it looks too trappy for me to get involved in.
In the Doncaster Mile at 15:55, QE II runner-up Belardo really should be winning this at these weights, but I can let him win unbacked at the price.
Change of scenery could see Archie bounce back at Kempton
Over at Kempton, I am going to give Archie a chance in the 14:30 on his debut for Clive Cox. He was balloted out of the Lincoln on Thursday morning but he was never going to get in that race off a mark of just 88.
He was highly-regarded when with Tom Dascombe at two, when his only start saw him beat the classy Medrano at Haydock, but he never really progressed last season, despite a fair fourth at the same track in July.
But he has been dropped 5lb for that disappointing 2015 and a change of scenery to Cox will hopefully re-ignite that juvenile talent, and of mild interest also is that the horse's half-brother Clement won on this surface for today's rider John Fahy in 2013. He is worth an interest at 11.010/1.
The fillies' 1m listed race at 16:10 has attracted a fair sort in course winner Redstart as well as the progressive recent Lingfield winner Volunteer Point.
Redstart, who disappointed in the Guineas after winning the Fred Darling, would perhaps get my vote but nowhere near enough to stick her up as a bet.
The Clock Leary to tick at Newbury
Over at Newbury, there are just the two races on More4, but I am willing to give The Clock Leary one more chance in the 15:05 at 13.012/1 or bigger.
He went up to 130 after beating Cocktails At Dawn by 11 lengths over 2m3f at Ascot two seasons and has basically been very disappointing since.
But he showed a little bit more when fifth at Sandown last time, the drying ground should suit, and he is now down to a mark of just 117. And Fago coming out at the overnight stage means the weights rose 4lb and The Clock Leary can now race off his proper mark, off 10 stone.
Back Azraff at 10.09/1 in the 14:15 at Doncaster
Back Archie at 11.010/1 in the 14:30 at Kempton
Back Secret Brief at 24.023/1 in the 14:45 at Doncaster
Back The Clock Leary at 13.012/1 in the 15:05 at Newbury