Tony Calvin casts his eye across Ayr and Newbury and picks out some big-priced fancies ahead of Saturday's racing...
"A look at Richardson's recent rides, and her successes on Fast Shot, have persuaded me that the 7lb claimer won't be a barrier to success. I also like Minalisa and Supplicant at big prices, but Fast Shot from a high draw in 25 will do for me."
Last week's St Leger victory for Kingston Hill once again indicated that trainers aren't necessarily the best people to judge the going requirements of their horses, and that the formbook is the best guide.
I know trainers also have the well-being and future of their horses to consider, and that has to be paramount, but that "will he, won't he?" saga was very tiresome, as the horse has now recorded his two best efforts on ground at least on the fast side of good.
Perhaps, sometimes, the trainers are actually too close to their horses.
I don't bring this subject up again to have a pop at Roger Varian - you will struggle to meet a nicer trainer, and last week was blown out of all proportion anyway - as Tim Easterby has been making similar noises about the ground preferences for Fast Shot in the Ayr Gold Cup at 15:50.
I hope that he doesn't go and do something silly such as pull the horse out, as I want to back the horse at odds of 30.029/1 or bigger. Though, with the course actually "selective watering" on Thursday night, thankfully that appears unlikely.
Easterby says, quite rightly, that the horse likes soft ground, but a glance at his form suggests that he is just as at home on good and fast ground. Indeed, four of his seven career victories have been on good or faster ground.
And he looks to have been laid out for this race - in common with the rest of the field, admittedly - with his midfield run after a two-month absence in the Great St Wilfrid an ideal stepping stone.
And he showed when just touched off by a neck in the Silver Cup here last year that he is fully effective over course and distance.
Easterby's horses have been in good form here last week - he, like many, readily admits to teeing them up for this meeting - and, I'll be honest, the only thing originally putting me off backing the horse was 7lb claimer Rachel Richardson.
Now, I am not as bad as the 15% of the R&A who voted to keep it men-only - though it was good to see some sticking to their guns in the new age of ours - but I do like a strong jockey on board in these incredibly tight sprints.
But a look at Richardson's recent rides, and her successes on Fast Shot, have persuaded me that the 7lb claimer won't be a barrier to success.
I also like Minalisa and Supplicant at big prices, but Fast Shot from a high draw in 25 will do for me.
Parsley interested me in the Firth Of Clyde at 14:05. And I wouldn't put anyone off Presburg causing a shock in the 15:15, if making a quick turnaround after finishing sixth from off the pace in a 1m2f handicap on Thursday. I think there is more to come from him.
I will kick myself if Parsley cops without putting him up, but my only other Ayr bet is Green Howard in the Silver Cup at 14:40.
Given his profile, and the withdrawal of Telmeyd, I was expecting him to be trading at a fair bit shorter than his current price of 17.016/1. Perhaps his draw in 10 has put some off, or maybe the fact that he is stepping down 2f from his last run, but he has a lot going for him.
The selection comes here in great nick and he put up a good speed figure when winning over 1m at Musselburgh last time, and he was only just touched off by a head in the Bronze Cup here last year.
Again, connections says he wants soft ground but a fast-ground second to Thursday winner Anderiego at York in May suggests he can handle this quicker surface. He could be outpaced over this trip on it, but I'll take my chances given the form he is in.
And, anyway, he has form over 6f on good ground, didn't appear to lack pace when bolting up at Thirsk last month and his stamina will be a good asset in the closing stages.
Over at Newbury, I think the obvious will prevail in the Group races - which, invariably, means no bet for us. And that is the case here.
I think Hillstar will finally break his run of seconds in the Group 3 contest at 13:50 - odds of around 7/2 are fair but not exactly bet-inducing - and it could well be a quick-fire double for Ryan Moore as he also rides the unbeaten Limato in the Mill Reef Stakes at 14:20.
The thunderous rain on Thursday night, which continued into today and has turned the ground good to soft, may be a slight worry for those who took the 3/1 in a place about Limato when betting first opened - some firms really are clueless in pricing up without a liquid Betfair market to guide them - but I would expect him to prove himself a top-class two-year-old here.
Not that he already hasn't, as the form of his easy defeat of Cotai Glory over course and distance last time was a very impressive effort, and the formbook would officially back that up had George Baker hung on for another 50 yards at Doncaster.
But backing him at around 13/8 in softening ground in a competitive race is not my style, especially as he also hasn't had a trouble-free run up to this race by all accounts.
And, while I am a big fan of Take Cover, I will be pleasantly surprised if he can give the weight to Mecca's Angel in the 15:30, as the three-year-old looked a very fair tool when winning at Doncaster last time.
Again, though, the price is nothing to write home about. But I am sure many will include those three in their doubles and trebles, and good luck to them.
No, the only bet I am having at Newbury is Roseburg in the Dubai Duty Free handicap at 14:55, at odds of 8.415/2 or better.
He was very well-fancied to continue on his upward curve at Goodwood last time, not surprising given the manner of his Haydock success previously on good to soft ground.
But he won't be the last horse to disappoint at Goodwood, particularly on fast ground, so the recent rain at Newbury is a big plus to his chances.
And his Haydock form really is very strong. Only the third and fifth have come out of the race and run since, with Master The World beating the progressive Extremity among his subsequent efforts and Fire Fighting winning again here on Thursday.
Of course, there are plenty of dangers, possibly chief among them Air Pilot, but I'll be surprised and a lot poorer if Roseburg isn't at least in the frame. Luca Cumani has his string in good form, too.
Next week's tipping column will be brought to you from the Bellagio in Vegas, blocked internet sites and Tanqueray permitting, that is.
So wish me luck.
Back Green Howard at 17.016/1 or bigger in the 14:40 at Ayr
Back Roseburg at 8.415/2 or bigger in the 14:55 at Newbury
Back Fast Shot at 30.029/1 or bigger in the 15:50 at Ayr
Check out the Timeform Radio preview of Saturday's action at Ayr and Newbury, with Matt Gardner and Tim Peters...