Tony Calvin provides an entertaining rundown of the nine races that will be screened on Channel Four on Saturday afternoon...
"I hope to be belting out “Burnt Sugar”, Rolling Stones-stylee, at around a quarter to four in a bar somewhere on Saturday."
You know me by now. If it isn't there, don't force it, and that is the case despite there being nine races on Channel 4 tomorrow. Tight conditions races rarely throw up many better opportunities and that is the case on Saturday, especially at Ascot.
The Cumberland Lodge at 14:30, is a case in point. Even though they meet Western Hymn, a class horse on his day, and improvers like Move Up, and both carry 3lb penalties for recent wins in this grade, I thought Kings Fete and Arab Spring could dominate this race.
But the market agrees, and the pair are about even money combined to win this Group 3. No thanks.
The Group3 sprint at 15:05 is little better from a punting point of view.
It features the return of dual Group 1-winning juvenile Shalaa, who makes a belated reappearance after injuring his pelvis in the spring. He has a clear class edge on his 2yo form but I am in no rush whatsoever to take 2-1 about him. However, none of his nine rivals scream out of me at the prices.
The same is true of the 5f listed race at 16:15. It is an incredibly tight contest on official ratings and I simply can't see any angle into the race.
The Challenge Cup at 15:40 is a different cup of tea though and we have already nailed our colours firmly to the mast with our 33-1 ante-post selection Burnt Sugar on Tuesday.
He is now a top-priced 20-1 in the marketplace - read my argument for him here - and at least we have secured a decent price.
I do expect him to go very well, even if what pace there is seems to be high, and he is drawn in six. If you want a bet in the race, then he remains it for me at around 21.020/1.
I went over the race again thoroughly on Thursday night trying to find a second betting string to my bow but I couldn't find one at the prices.
Librisa Breeze may be 11lb higher than his Hunt Cup second but he is still weighted to make his presence felt here, though odds of around 11-2 are probably bang on the money.
Sorry, but if a bet isn't there, then it isn't there. And I'm not going to tip for the sake of it, and put up something I am not backing myself.
Over at Newmarket, it doesn't get much easier, where Alice Springs looks the worthy favourite in the Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes at 16:00.
She was devastating in the Matron Stakes last time and if she reproduces that form then she will win. But she was undoubtedly helped by racing down the faster strip of ground down the middle there - there was a bias there all day, as Almanzor underlined in the Irish Champion - and she can throw in the odd bad performance.
The three French fillies all have to be respected, but the interesting one in here is the South African mare Smart Call.
On officlal ratings she is the best filly in the race on a mark of 119 after she won the Met in her homeland by 3 ½ lengths.
When I was in Newmarket on Thursday, a few of the local dogs were barking her name - apparently her work since arriving at HQ has been of a high standard - and I will throw a few quid at her at 15.014/1. I am not going mad by any means - this is her first run since January and apparently the Breeders' Cup is her main target - but a small-stakes interest is suggested.
The fillies' sprint handicap at 14:15 looks too tough for me - Pixieleen would be my token choice - and the 15:25 is also a bit of a head-scratcher. There is rain forecast all three C4 tracks tomorrow, but if they don't much get at Newmarket, then Sagaciously could bounce back to form on faster ground, though it isn't a betting race.
Lincoln Rocks could prove very hard to peg back under her 6lb penalty for her recent Musselburgh win - she is a front-runner and doesn't look to have a lot of competition for the lead - but I thought Carenot could be the answer to the 14:50 puzzle.
She was pulled out of the Listed race at Newmarket last Friday, where she would have been taking on 100+-rated fillies, and she obviously has a much easier assignment here off just 79 and 8st 2lb in this 1m handicap.
She was raised a fair 7lb for her Sandown win last time, and it is interesting that William Haggas has replaced the first-time visor that she wore there with first-time blinkers here (he is 12-134 with first-time blinkers in the last five years).
The problem is the price though, and I just can't get interested at that level in a competitive 14-runner handicap.
I will have a dabble in the big 2yo Listed race at Redcar though, and I make no apologies for playing at the top end of the market here as I think there is a lot of dead wood in the heat.
Back Rainbow Mist at 7.06/1 in the 15:15.
I pay little or no attention to previous trends in races, particularly when it comes to the record of favourites, which has zero relevance.
But what is clear is that the class horses tend to dominate in this race - the likes of Bogart, Limato and Log Out Island down the years - and few, if any, have better form claims than the selection.
In fact, only Repton has a higher official mark than him (103 plays 100), and he gets 3lb from that horse, so they are the joint form choices.
Rainbow Mist also boasts the best speed-figure credentials courtesy of his much-improved fifth in the Flying Childers last time.
The step back up to 6f and faster ground are worries - a few of those forecast showers to take the sting out of the ground would be nice - but I just don't see any depth to the race, and odds of 6-1 and bigger are very fair.
I am not going to come out with that garbage "the bigger the field, the bigger the certainty line", but I fail to see any in here with better credentials than him, for all it is a 23-runner race.
I'll be back at 5pm on Saturday when I will be giving you my thoughts on the Arc card.
In the meantime, I hope to be belting out "Burnt Sugar", Rolling Stones-stylee, at around a quarter to four in a bar somewhere on Saturday.
Yes, I know, but give me some license, please.
Back Rainbow Mist at 7.06/1 or bigger in the 15:15 at Redcar
Back Smart Call at 15.014/1 in the 16:00 at Newmarket
Already Recommended (ante-post)