Tony Calvin picks a bet from the Friday afternoon card at Newmarket before heading north to the Knavesmire where he makes the case for backing three...
Waarif at [6.4] in the 14:40 at York:.
"Usually, I go out of my way to oppose favourites but he just looks bomb-proof, and sometimes you don’t have to look beyond the bleedin’ obvious."
I ended up backing Trueshan at 12/1 for Friday's 1m4f handicap at 16:10 earlier in the week and, while the race hasn't quite cut up as much as I would have liked - in fact, it looks a pretty tasty contest, all told - I am happy to press up personally and with a tipping recommendation at 8/1 each way, five places, with the Betfair Sportsbook for this Newmarket contest.
Trueshan has winning claims in race full of pace
There are a fair few in here that concern me - mostly fellow market rivals First In Line and the lightly-raced Battle of Paradise - but I was really taken with Trueshan at Haydock last time, and I reckon he is still competitively handicapped despite going up 2lb for that two-length defeat.
I put him up that day as well as I was impressed by the manner of his earlier Ffos Las novice defeat of Caravan Of Hope under a 7lb penalty, and the second actually won at Ascot last week.
But it is obviously his Haydock performance on soft ground that leads me to his winning claims here, as I thought he did well to finish second there in spite of being disadvantaged by coming from well off the pace and down the middle of the track, while the pace was on the far rail.
Furthermore, I thought his run flattened out close home over the 1m6f trip, so I like the angle of him stepping back down to 1m4f, especially in a race that is packed full of pace.
Nine of the 19 runners have made the running in a recent start, so I expect William Buick to bide his time here, but sit closer than Andrea Atzeni did last time.
The winner at Haydock, Ranch Hand, is one of the favourites for the Cesarewitch on Saturday, and I am inclined to take a very positive view of the race, which was run in a good time, while also expecting Trueshan to prove better than the bare form for the reasons outlined above.
The ease in the ground is clearly no issue (it is currently good to soft at Newmarket, with an unsettled and pretty wet forecast from Thursday afternoon onwards) and it is very interesting to note that Buick is three-from-three for the stable this season, winning the Newbury Spring Cup on Chatez in April and Newmarket and Ascot handicaps on Aweedram.
Regular readers will know that 2yo races rarely have me looking for the back button, so I didn't hold out much hope for the rest of the ITV races at Newmarket, especially as the only other non-juvenile race on the box is the five-runner Challenge Stakes.
The rest of the Newmarket card
Horrible phrase I know, but Platinum Star did tick every box bar one in the opening Cornwallis Stakes at 13:50.
He is the form horse, he comes here on the back of a career-best win over 6f at Ripon last time and a half-length second in the Windsor Castle shows that the combination of 5f and soft ground present no problem at all.
The only issue, as ever, is that his price of around 3/1 is hardly a giveaway in this 14-runner Group 3, though I suppose it isn't diabolical by any means, especially when you consider how few of these are unproven with plenty of ease in the ground.
Flaming Princess is one exception, having form on good to soft, and she could enter the picture at 12/1 if they don't get much more rain - and maybe Flippa The Strippa too, if you wanted a 33/1+ poke on your side - but it's a race I can leave alone.
I also think the market has the right favourites in the Oh So Sharp Stakes at 14:25 and when I see three unbeaten juveniles lining up against the marginal form horse Love in the Fillies Mile at 15:35, , https://btfr.co/163489721, I am afraid that my eyes roll over and towards the two handicaps at York.
But if you wanted an interest in the Group 1 contest, then the comments in my ante-post piece earlier in the week stand. Namely, that Powerful Breeze is probably a touch over-priced at 6/1 on her May Hill win.
And before we adjourn to the Knavesmire, then the aforementioned Challenge Stakes could actually be quite interesting from a betting point of view if they do get more than the 4mm forecast on Friday.
Because the top four in the betting would definitely prefer much better ground and the 16/1 outsider of five Solar Gold has form in the soft, though she has a mountain to find on the figures.
But, yes, the York handicaps are far more up my strasse.
And so to York...
Waarif was available at 9/1 in a place on Monday afternoon but I make no apologies for recommending him as a bet at [6.4] or bigger now in the 14:40.
Usually, I go out of my way to oppose favourites but he just looks bomb-proof, and sometimes you don't have to look beyond the bleedin' obvious.
Granted, he does go on runs where he would struggle to win a walkover - so bomb-proof he ain't, sorry - but he has good course form, the heavy ground-scorer is well suited by some ease (it has dried out to good to soft, but more rain is forecast), and he has really returned to form on his last two starts.
You had to love the way he travelled through the race when he beat Kynren by half-a-length dropped back down to this trip at Ayr last time, and the fact that the runner-up was smashed to pieces in he betting when winning at Ascot on Saturday was not a bad advertisement for the form either.
Off just a 2lb higher here, Waarif's claims are stonkingly obvious to go one better than his second in this race last season, and that came off a 3lb higher mark, too.
It just looks too good to be true, though the one potential negative is being drawn 15 of 16.
But he got across quickly from stall 11 when second last year, and I am sure Robbie Downey (who surprising takes over from Danny Tudhope, who was on him at Haydock last time, as the stable jockey gets the leg up on Firmament and that you can certainly see that course specialists going well) will be alert to getting a good pitch early.
Little saver in the 14:40
Mikmak didn't get an ideal trip when third in this race last year, just behind the selection, and he has claims at 12/1 or bigger, but I am going to have a little saver on Major Partnership at 14/1 each way with the Sportsbook.
He was having his first start since March when blowing away the cobwebs over 6f on fast ground at Ascot last month, going from the front.
They will presumably ride him with a bit more restraint here, as they did when he won over 1m at Meydan in February in first-time cheek pieces, and he was dropped 2lb for that Ascot run.
I like the angle of him stepping back up to 1m on easier ground (three of his winning siblings handled soft well), and down in grade to a 0-100, and the stable could not be in much better nick, with 11 winners from 27 runners in the last fortnight going into Thursday's racing. with another six seconds for good measure.
And an each way option for the 15:50
Melrose winner Hamish is very much the worthy favourite in the 1m6f handicap at 15:50, as he could take a fair bit of whipping off a 6lb higher mark.
But the Haydock form of Trueshan is represented by the third, fourth and fifth here (third Elysian Flame is tried in first-time blinkers), so I respect their claims but it could be worth rowing in with Deal A Dollar at 7/1 each way, five places, with the Betfair Sportsbook.
He was thought a genuine Derby prospect at the start of the year before disappointing twice in the spring but the fitting of blinkers, to go with a tongue-tie, appears to have made a big difference in his last three starts, with two victories, and he looked very strong at the finish when winning over 1m4f96yd at Newcastle last time.
And he looked unlucky when beaten at Wolverhampton two starts ago, too.
He has gone up another 7lb for his win in that five-runner race at Newcastle but that looked a pretty strong handicap, with the placed horses both progressive sorts, and he could finally be fulfilling that promise he was showing his trainer earlier in the year.
He is unproven with cut in the ground, but his pedigree gives you hope he will be okay, and I like him stepping up to this 1m5f188yd trip given the way he finished off at Newcastle, albeit in a small field.
Word of warning at Cheptstow
They have missed the rain at Chepstow this week - so far at least - and the ground is currently good to soft, and good in places.
But the weather is set to turn inclement from now on and one of the weather sites I use is predicting up to 15mm from Thursday night onwards for the next 24 hours. So bear that in mind if you are betting on the Persian War at 14:10. I was looking to get with Some Day Soon, as his price of around 14/1 is very tempting, but his connections would not like the prospect of so much rain for him one iota.
Waarif at [6.4] or bigger in 14:40 at York
Major Partnership at 14/1 each way, four places, in 14:40 at York
Deal A Dollar at 7/1 each way, five places, in 15:50 at York
Trueshan at 8/1 each way, five places, in 16:10 at Newmarket