Weekend weather watch number 35 this year as Haydock is the subject of somewhat differing rain reports in the next day or so. Tiresome once again, but there you have it.
Suedois can capitalise on any Limato doubts
The times suggested it was on the fast side there on Thursday and Friday, which will obviously suit Limato in the big one at 16:30 if those conditions still prevail come Saturday afternoon.
But if as much rain arrives on Saturday as is forecast in some reports - it is set to lash it down from mid-morning all through racing, according to one, with 10-15mm in the offing - then Henry Candy could be rueing the decision not to leave last year's winner Twilight Son in the race on Thursday morning.
We could well have a "will he, won't he?" scenario with Limato on Saturday if any significant rain does materialise, and that is not ideal for anyone. The betting on the race would effectively be put on hold.
I know they have expressed reservations about a quick turnaround for him but if it is decent ground and Limato turns up in the same form as when winning the July Cup, or when second in the Nunthorpe, then he pretty much wins this.
But there are doubts, and Suedois at 15.014/1 is a likely beneficiary if Limato is a no-show or underperforms.
He was easily brushed aside by Limato in the July Cup, but he was still best of the rest in second, and while he emptied out in the closing stages of the 6f110yd Prix Maurice De Gheest last time he was still beaten just under two lengths. The slight step back in trip is a plus.
He was beaten under a length in both the Duke Of York and the Diamond Jubilee before that, and just looks a rock-solid Group 1 6f sprinter who acts in good and soft ground, and looks likely to run his race for a stable who took this prize with G Force in 2014. That may be good enough.
We'll be dancing in the rain with Tango success
The Group 3 1m contest at 15:00 looks very tricky but if there is an improver in the race it must be Hathal, not seen out since winning over 7f in the soft at Newbury last September.
But long absences are no barrier to Haggas horses obliging, though I suspect he may not run unless it starts to rain early tomorrow.
Confessional goes for his third win in the race in 16:00 and is still in the form to do so after a fair fifth at Chester last time, and I will have a small-stakes bet on him at 15.014/1 - the smallest punt of the day - but for a bigger investment I do like Intense Tango at 15.014/1 in the 15:30.
There are plenty more "sexier" profiles than hers in this 1m6f handicap but she just screams solid to me.
She is in-form, still improving on the evidence of her Nottingham second last time, is most effective at this trip, handles good and easy ground, and her course form figures read 412.
The stable form is a slight doubt - read on for details about that - but I wouldn't have her anywhere near a 16-1 poke here.
Fair prices on non-Channel 4 fancies
The RUK races book-ending the card are also very interesting. While they may not be double-figure prices, and the former maybe even be favourite, Zest in the 13:50 and Marmajuke Bay at 17:00 could take a fair bit of stopping.
The early betting saw one firm put Marmajuke Bay in at 8-1 and that was very fair indeed. He is a course winner, the form of his Salisbury win last time is working out well, the step up in trip should suit, and any rain about would be a big plus to his chances.
In-form Molson can land Ascot spoils
Charles Molson looks to have a fair bit going for him in the 7f handicap at Ascot and he rates a bet at a double-figure price in the 14:40.
He got edged out by only ½ length in the 6f handicap on this card last season (off a 2lb higher mark than this) and raced exclusively over that trip thereafter until he lost out in a three-way photo over 7f at Newbury last time.
That race was run in a fast time, so hopefully the stiffer 7f won't be a problem, and he comes here after a series of fine efforts, not just the one. He was raised 3lb for the Newbury third, where Von Blucher was a short-head in front of him in second, but he is still 3lb lower than at the start of the season. And Patrick Chamings has his small team in really good order, with three winners in the last nine days.
Back him at 13.012/1 or bigger, though being drawn in one could be an issue as the pace horses are drawn in 15 and 17.
Epsom conqueror worth chancing up in trip
The 1m4f handicap at 15:10 is chock full of improving 3yo handicappers, a fair few of whom are stepping up to 1m4f for the first time.
There looks more to come from Goodwood winner Dal Harraild and the well-regarded Stargazer has an attractive profile stepping up an extra 2f, and it is no surprise to see them head the market. And then you have Real Dominion, raised 3lb for his unlucky defeat at Newmarket last Saturday.
Throw in the likes of Danehill Kodiac and Combative, and you have a very hot heat, but I am going to give a chance to a horse who hasn't been seen out since doing us a 33-1 favour at Epsom on Derby day.
Back Gawdawpalin at 15.014/1.
It is obviously of concern that he hasn't been out since. And he has also been raised 9lb, he is trying 1m4f for the first time and the ground here could easily be the fastest he has encountered.
Not ideal credentials, I grant you.
But his stable continue among the winners, and his pedigree gives you some encouragement that the extra quarter mile won't be an insurmountable problem. And certainly the way he strode clear over 1m2f at Epsom did.
The form of that Epsom win really couldn't have worked out much better. The second has won twice since, the fourth bolted up at Goodwood, the fifth won next time, the sixth Scarlet Dragon has scored three times, and there have also been wins for the seventh, ninth and the 14th.
Handicaps don't come much hotter, so I take my chances, even with all the question marks.
Favourites could be vulnerable in Kempton features
As I mentioned when looking at Haydock, some of the most interesting races are only on RUK on Saturday and that is certainly the case with the Sirenia Stakes at Kempton at 15:15.
The form horse is unquestionably The Last Lion, whose placed efforts in Group company also stand up to close inspection on the clock too, and that is not something that can really be said of Koropick's maiden win at Thirsk.
But he could do no more than hose up there, cruising throughout and treating a horse who had previously finished third in a decent Newbury maiden with contempt. And the third came out and won an above-average maiden at Hamilton earlier in the week.
I think Koropick could give The Last Lion plenty about here but it isn't a betting heat to me, which is also true of the September Stakes at 15:45 in which Arab Spring has a considerably easier task on his hands than in the Juddmonte last time.
I am worried about him having his third quick run back after a lengthy break though, and if Sky Hunter returns at his best - he goes well fresh, but the stable clearly are having a very rough time of it and only had their first runners in over two months on Friday - then he could prove very troublesome. At the odds, I am happy to pass.
Helping hand from handicapper to inspire Georgian success
As you would expect of the 50k London Mile final at 16:15 it is a very competitive race but if ever the handicapper had given a horse a helping hand to follow up their win in a contest last year he has done so with his treatment of Georgian Bay.
Georgian Bay beat a well-handicapped horse in Spirit Raiser by a pretty convincing 1 ½ lengths in this race last season (and from stall 14, too) - no, it wasn't pretty convincing, he hacked up - and he is now only 2lb higher in the weights.
A fair chunk of his subsequent drop in the weights since came courtesy of what I thought was a promising sixth over course and distance last month, his first start for nearly over seven weeks, where he never really got in the race after a tardy start and wasn't subjected to a hard race on the outside in the straight by Harry Bentley, despite travelling pretty well.
Even if the handicapper had strictly rated the bare form of his six-length defeat he has been kind dropping him 3lb for that run, but if he watched the video again and still did it, then he is a generous soul indeed. To these eyes, at least.
Georgian Bay has loads of solid course form, and he is re-united with 5lb claimer Jordan Vaughan who was on board for the win last year, and if ever a horse has been laid out for a repeat win it is this 6yo.
The only, and it could be considerable, negative is that Karl Burke (trainer of Intense Tango) has apparently had horses under a cloud and scoping dirty - he had a 1-16 poke chinned in midweek - but I will plough on regardless and back him at 15.014/1 or better. He is weighted to win.
Back Charles Molson at 17.016/1 in 14:40 at Ascot
Back Gawdawpalin at 15.014/1 in 15:10 at Ascot
Back Intense Tango at 15.014/1 in the 15:30 at Haydock
Back Confessional at 15.014/1 in the 16:00 at Haydock
Back Suedois at 15.014/1 in the 16:30 at Haydock
Back Georgian Bay at 15.014/1 in 16:15 at Kempton