The Channel 4 cameras make their way to Sandown Park for a terrific day of flat racing on Friday afternoon, and our man Tony Calvin believes the favourites are worth opposing in two of the day's feature races...
"Noble Mission has only 4lb to find with the front two in the betting on official marks, and I think he is the most likely to run his race."
"Indeed, Penitent is three from three here, including when winning this race two years ago, and if he gets his own way out in front then he could prove very hard to peg back."
Friday's excellent card at Sandown hints at the riches to come on the Flat this season, but it could just make a few favourite backers poorer.
Not that I think that Western Hymn will get beaten at likely odds-on in the Classic Trial at 15:15, as he proved the sectional boys - a merry but forthright band led by Timeform's Simon Rowlands - were bang on the money when producing a very impressive performance to win at Newbury last time and this doesn't look the strongest of renewals, not that the list of recent winners have thrown up any superstars.
Western Hymn doesn't have much in hand on official ratings - in fact, he is only third best on those - but as regards profile and potential he makes far more appeal than Greenham third Master Carpenter or the likes of Truth Or Dare or Sir Jack Layden, and I think quotes of around 1.75/7 are justified.
14:10 Sandown - Noble Mission
I think the Gordon Richards Stakes at 14:10 could be ripe for an upset though as I am keen to take on Telescope and Sky Hunter at the prices.
I think it is fair to assume that trainer and jockey found the talk surrounding Telescope last season more than a touch tiresome, but at least he showed that he was a horse of no little potential when winning the Voltigeur, only to miss the rest of the season due to injury.
The problem with him though is that his reputation does not match up to the facts - he has an official mark of 115 - and I don't detect an overwhelming air of confidence about the horse, particularly on his first start back and over a trip likely to be short of his optimum.
He is officially rated the same horse as Prix Du Jockey Club third Sky Hunter, making his debut for Saeed Bin Suroor after leaving Andre Fabre, so he has nothing in hand on form. And, if anything, I fancy the Godolphin horse more.
But he looks a 1m4f horse to me too - though his jockey may look to nick an easy lead and dictate the pace up front - and I reckon that old thinker Noble Mission could just have his day in the sun here.
Back him at odds of 7.06/1 or bigger but, as ever with this rogue, you have to protect your stake by putting an in-running lay in at around the even money mark. He traded at 2.111/10 on his reappearance when a good second at Newbury, and other more notable defeat-from-the-jaws-of-victory in-running lows include 1.081/12, 1.121/8, 1.141/7, and 1.341/3, to name just four!
You get the picture. So get the in-running lay in.
But he has got his head in front four times, comes here fit and in-form, is effective at this trip - though he is viewed as a 1m4f horse, probably his best recent efforts came over 1m2f when fourth in the Prix Dollar and when just a head behind Telescope at Haydock last season - and I think this race could just fall into his lap. And he has only 4lb to find with the front two in the betting on official marks, and I think he is the most likely to run his race.
14:45 Sandown - Penitent
The market for the 14:45 is dominated by Top Notch Tonto, Montiridge and Garswood, but I reckon we have a chance of getting all three beaten.
So I wouldn't put anyone off laying all the front three - I like Montiridge the most of that trio, by the way - but for our purposes, I suggest we just back Penitent at odds of 8.07/1 or bigger.
Obviously, all three of the market leaders have sound claims, but Penitent has a better chance than his price implies.
He didn't cut much ice on his only start out in Meydan but plenty of horses have run well coming back from lacklustre efforts from Dubai - including the stable's Sweet Lightning - and Penitent seems to thrive over 1m at Sandown, with a bit of dig in the ground.
Indeed, he is three from three here, including when winning this race two years ago, and if he gets his own way out in front then he could prove very hard to peg back. And his stable has struck form with a vengeance recently, too.
I think favourite backers could be smiling after the first race at 13:40 courtesy of Sacred Act - he looked very promising in winning a soft ground Nottingham maiden, and holds a Group 1 St James Palace Stakes entry, which suggests a mark of 90 is not considered the limit of his abilities - but at around 3.185/40 he won't be carrying my cash in such a competitive little race full of unknowns.
Back Noble Mission @ 7.06/1 or better - Sandown 14:10
Back Penitent @ 8.07/1 or better - Sandown 14:45