It's day two of the Cambridgeshire Meeting at Newmarket and, while Tony Calvin is struggling with much of the card, our man makes a strong case for a bet in the opening race...
"If Clon Culis returns to the level of her Ascot run, then she has strong claims on both form and on the clock."
There is something about cards laden with Group and conditions races that immediately turn me off - the usual small fields don't help - but thankfully Clon Coulis has flicked the on-switch in the opener at 13:50.
Underrated Clon Coulis must be backed
Now, she clearly doesn't have the sexy profile of the John Gosden duo of She's Got You and Lady Lawyer, or the form claims of Maqsad, and the race has some depth to it beyond that trio, as well. But Clon Coulis, the oldest horse in the field as a 5yo, is the second highest-rated here (behind Maqsad) and probably has better claims than her double-digit odds suggest.
She was rated 2lb higher than her current mark of 101 after her nose second to Afaak in the Hunt Cup, and she could get a similar pace set-up here, for all the numbers are a lot less. She is a hold-up horse for whom a strong, even tempo is key, so it's a big plus that there are three or four in here that like to go forward, and the rain this week isn't a concern.
Her trainer has gone on record in the past saying that she wanted fast ground, but her Ascot career-best on soft should have put that comment to bed- and it looks like being good, anyway - and it isn't hard to see Jamie Spencer anchoring her towards the rear and delivering her late.
His mount finished behind Agincourt and Chaleur in a 7f York handicap last time, but she was beaten just over three lengths into eighth there and you can mark that performance up as I thought she was disadvantaged by racing on the far rail there from her draw in one. She would have been right on the premises over this extra furlong, too.
If she returns to the level of her Ascot run, then she has strong claims on both form and on the clock.
Promissory will be hard to beat
After that, I began to struggle to eke out more bets.
Although just 4lb separates six of the nine runners in the 1m4f Group 3 Fillies And Mares race at 14:25, I have to admit to think that Promissory could be a bit of a good thing here after her second to the St Leger runner-up Sir Ron Priestley in the March Stakes over 1m6f at Goodwood last month.
That was just her third start and, with the step back to 1m4f not expected to be any bother - in fact it looks like it will be a plus after the way she travelled into the race last time against a dour stayer - she probably already has the form in the bag to see these off.
She actually looks a fair price at around 13/8 to give her stable a fifth win in this race in the last eight years, but I can always resist those kind of odds.
And I suppose could argue that the official ratings tell you she is short enough, but I suspect she will be devilishly hard to beat.
Daahyeh could be opposed
Daahyeh is another similarly short-priced favourite who initially looked pretty hard to take on in the Rockfel at 15:00.
But, then again, she only had Under The Stars a length or so away when second in the Moyglare last time - James Tate's filly saw out the 7f really well, too, there - and that wasn't the strongest of Group 1s, so maybe she could be opposed.
Blissful is improving, Festival Day won in a good time at Chepstow last time, and you can definitely make a case for Cloak Of Spirits, too.
The latter clocked a quick time when winning at Ascot on her debut and she looked as though the return to this trip was a wise move after blowing out when a well-backed favourite over 1m in the May Hill last time. But she did check out a bit too tamely for my liking there, for all she may have been a bit keen throughout.
I am tempted by Under The Stars, from an in-form yard, each way at around the 7/1 mark, as I liked the way she finished off her race at the Curragh. But the favourite is solid and there are a few with place claims, so I will pass.
Thoughts on the rest of the card
The seven-runner Group 2 Joel Stakes at 15:35 features another strong favourite in the shape of St James's Palace Stakes runner-up and International fourth King Of Comedy at 5/4.
I imagine some punters will be happy to stick him in a treble with the other aforementioned jollies, and that may well bear fruit, but he could have his work cut out if Benbatl returns from an 11-month absence in decent nick.
The Godolphin colt is unpenalised for his three Group/Grade 1 wins, and is the proven class horse in this field. As we stand, anyway, and I wouldn't like to be laying him at 7/1.
I was happy to take a look at the Silver Cambridgeshire at 17:20 on a quiet day, but it has attracted just the eight runners and nothing stood out.
Profit and Loss Total for this column: +230.1
April 14 2017 to Sep 26 2019 inclusive (all recommended exchange bets are settled at Betfair SP)