Glorious Goodwood, if we are still allowed to call it that, is one of the highlights of the racing calendar but it has to be said that five days stretches the quality to wafer-thin levels on occasions.
Before I get accused of being a miserable old sod (again), I better acknowledge the presence of Stradivarius in the Group 1 Goodwood Cup at 15:15 and he may have to run a career-best to give 15lb to the Irish Derby winner Santiago.
John Gosden knows how hard a task his Stradivarius faces here, as his horse took advantage of the 13lb he received from Big Orange when winning this race as a three-year-old in 2017 and the age allowance has since increased by 2lb.
The market thinks he will get the job done okay, as he current trades at 1.574/7, and he certainly looked at the peak of his game when winning the Gold Cup in runaway style at Ascot last time.
But Santiago - ridden by Ryan Moore - is a Classic winner who previously shaped liked a stayer when winning the Queen's Vase, and he looks the only horse capable of sticking it up to the jolly. But there is no juice in his price of around 5/2 on the exchange given the horse he is up against.
Diamond can shine again
I may as well stick to the class contests while I am at it, and the Group 2 Lennox Stakes at 14:45 has attracted a far more deeper field of 13, with several holding realistic winning claims.
The first thing to say about this race is pace seems to be at a premium here and you have to think that Marie's Diamond will be able to get an uncontested lead on the front end from stall two, and we have seen how effective he is when he leads, when he won at Newmarket first time out and when third in the Queen Anne next time.
He was collared good and proper when eventually well beaten in the Summer Mile last time, but this is the Mark Johnston yard and they can bounce back to form in an instant, and Marie's Diamond looks too big at 16/1+ given the probable (he says hopefully) tactical angle.
He also finished second in a Richmond Stakes here at two, his only previous start at the track, and I can see the step back to 7f suiting him.
I am all about price so I am going to trust in Silvestre De Sousa to judge it to perfection from the front; he has made all on the horse on the last two occasions he has been on board.
Back him at 21.020/1 or bigger.
Sir Dancealot can see off big contenders
I hate to be predictable but I thought Sir Dancealot ran a great trial for a race that he has won for this last two years when seventh in the July Cup last time.
He was always playing catch-up from the rear over 6f against some of the best sprinters around, but the way he finished off his race on the outside immediately had me thinking "Lennox Stakes."
You clearly wouldn't want to see too much more rain for him but Tuesday looks a dry day, so I am working on the basis of good ground, which will be fine. He looks a backable proposition at 8.07/1 or bigger.
As I said, there are plenty of other big, obvious contenders here - the market leaders Space Blues, Safe Voyage and Duke of Hazzard, the latter unbeaten in three starts at Goodwood - but if there is to be a big shock then Beat Le Bon could supply it.
He finished last behind Mohaather in the Summer Mile on his return but that masks a more encouraging reappearance than the bare stats suggests, as he travelled well for a long way.
He admittedly did stop quickly, which is the concern, but he clearly loves it around here and a reproduction of his Golden Mile win off 104 at this meeting last year doesn't give him that much to find.
I would have given him a spin but he will have preferred quicker ground and the early 25/1 in the marketplace has disappeared. And I can't really tip three horses in one race ! (though I may end up backing him personally, too).
I only ruled out two of the 12 when I initially went through the opening 0-95 fillies' handicap at 13:10 so it is clearly not a race that I had a firm opinion about.
That said, I did toy with chancing Agent Of Fortune towards the bottom of the weights, even if she is 1lb out of the weights and her Ascot run last time was hardly full of promise.
But the situation was accepted quickly enough there and Ryan Moore has been booked for his old man (though he hasn't ridden a winner for him since 2017), and the filly is effectively on the same mark as when beating Prompting, who has won her next two outings in striking fashion since joining David O'Meara, at Kempton in February.
She does have turf form in the past (prior to her recent marked improvement in early 2020) and it may be a mistake to be labelling her as purely an all-weather horse just yet.
Two against the field in the 13:45
If the opener was tricky, then the 1m2f handicap at 13:45 looks a punting minefield with a capital M.
For me, Cape Cavalli is the most obvious winner, but do you really want to be backing 6/1 chances in 18-runner handicaps around here when they are drawn in 17?
However, I thought he fully deserved his 8lb rise for a very impressive York win last time (albeit in a much weaker handicap than this). That came in a very good time too, against in-form horses, and of course Cieran Fallon lightens the load by 3lb here.
I can see this course winner coming high, wide and handsome late on here so, in the hope that Fallon takes the cowards' route and forfeits ground by racing on the outside with the intention/trade-off of getting a clear run - and the horse can take a while to get rolling, too - then I was happy to pull the trigger at 7.413/2.
However, his price crashed just after midday and the opening 8.415/2 on the exchange plummeted into as low as 5.85/1, so I had to abandon that idea. That price was just too short, and I make no apologies for being so odds-conscious when tipping.
I am still taking two against the field though, starting with Restorer at 40.039/1.
The Ian Williams yard was not at full throttle when Restorer won at Newbury last month, so he did well to get home in front there, and a 4lb rise seems fair.
He is an 8yo now and clearly far more exposed than most, but he was rated 14lb higher than his revised mark in the past and hopefully he can break well from stall three (he can be slowly away) and sit handy on the inner.
There are obvious doubts, but he didn't strike me a 40/1+ chance at all.
Tinandali has to go well with a clear run, as he certainly didn't get that when fifth at York last time. He had to sit and wait for a gap to appear, and the race was over by the time he got out.
He had earlier shaped equally as well when third off this mark at Epsom, and he should be on the premises with any luck from his midfield draw. I thought he looked a fair price at 9.28/1 or bigger.
I'd be keen to oppose Battleground in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at 14:15 purely on the basis that his form, for all his top-notch pedigree and easy Chesham win, does not entitle him to be a 5/4 chance.
And it is not as if Aidan O'Brien's juveniles have brushed aside all-comers when coming over to the UK this season.
I'd be inclined to say Youth Spirit at around 7/1 each way is a much better bet, but these 2yo races rarely do it for me and this is no exception.
It's a potential burn-up on the dancefloor in the 5f handicap at 15:45 as several of these like to go at it hammer and tongs from the outset.
It was therefore no surprise to see the closer Celsius popular in the early betting as the four-year-old course winner also comes here in good nick. But the value in his price has ebbed away sufficiently for me to let him win this unbacked, and who knows how the pace scenario will unfold, anyway.
The 6f maiden at 16:20 underlines my point about how weak the racing can be at this meeting and the closing 0-95 handicap at 16:50 doesn't hold much betting appeal, either.
Maybe, Time Voyage would be my choice in the lucky last but there is no need chase bets with such a busy week ahead.