Day 4 at Royal Ascot sees what is, for many, the race of the meeting in the Commonwealth Cup. Tony Calvin, who had winners at 40.2 and 24.58 on day three, has a 66/1 selection there, as well as four other tips from another good looking card at the Berkshire showpiece...
"This War Front colt will love the ground, and first-time blinkers will hopefully help him make that big stride forward. Since 2006, his trainer has a 20% strike rate when trying his horses in that headgear first time up. It's a long shot, but that is what this column is all about."
An Intelligent bet for the Commonwealth
The Commonwealth Cup at 15:40 looks to be the race of the meeting and I think last year's Coventry winner Caravaggio has more on his plate than quotes of even-money suggest, for all he looked ridiculously impressive at Naas last month.
Harry Angel didn't look too slow at Haydock last time though, nor did Blue Point when beating that horse (albeit in receipt of 4lb) here last month, and then you throw in Wesley Ward's unbeaten Bound For Nowhere.
But I am going to take a flier and put up Intelligence Cross at 66/1 each way with the Betfair Sportsbook.
That may seem a strange move given I have just named four, potentially formidable, rivals and the selection is far more exposed than that quartet, too.
But I have long since thought that Intelligence Cross has a big win in him and a helter-skelter 6f on fast ground on this stiff track should really suit. He is a strong stayer at 6f.
I got the distinct impression we didn't see the best of him for various reasons at two, and he again wasn't ridden to best effect when third at Navan last time out in April.
That form is obviously light years away from this red-hot contest but this War Front colt will love the ground, and first-time blinkers will hopefully help him make that big stride forward. Since 2006, his trainer has a 20% strike rate when trying his horses in that headgear first time up.
It's a long shot, but that is what this column is all about.
Three races to watch
Winter did us a massive, 16/1 ante-post favour when winning the 1,000 Guineas, and looked seriously impressive when following up at the Curragh, and I think she will hose up in the Coronation Stakes at 16:20.
But she is certainly not our kind of price, and I am happy to let this 4/7 chance saunter home, unbacked.
In the opener at 14:30, I think Alpha Centauri is a very worthy favourite at around the 9/4 mark.
It's not my kind of bet as there are obviously plenty of lightly-raced, well-bred and unexposed fillies ranged against her - not least Churchill's full-sister Clemmie - as well as Wesley Ward's duo of Fairyland and Princess Peggy (the latter has to pass the vet after taking a spill on Wednesday), but they will all have to go some to beat the favourite.
She looked devastatingly quick when beating Actress by five lengths at Naas last month, and won on fast ground on her debut, and I am not in in a rush to take her on.
I think Fierce Impact could outrun his odds of around 16/1 in the Queen's Vase at 17:00, but it is a devilishly difficult race to call and I am not getting involved. Remember the race is over 1m6f now, though, not 2m. Shame that.
Take on Crystal Ocean in the the King Edward VII Stakes
Right, that is three no-bet races out of the way, so let's get stuck into some more punting. Step forward Salouen in the King Edward VII Stakes at 15:05, who looks a very decent bet at 11.010/1 or bigger.
I am very worried about the favourite Crystal Ocean, as I think he shaped as the best horse in the race when third to Permian in the Dante. But he clearly hasn't been missed in the market, whereas Salouen has at a double-figure price.
He was a very smart juvenile, when placed in the Group 1 Lagardere and Racing Post Trophy, and he made an excellent return to action when a neck second to Khalidi in the Fielden Stakes over 1m1f.
But it is his eye-catching run in the Derby last time which marks him out as a bet here.
He was alongside the eventual winner Wings Of Eagles and just about to get rolling when pitching badly down on his nose 2f out, and you thought it was "game over" there and then.
But, remarkably, Fran Berry got him going again almost immediately and he was beginning to get competitive once again when his renewed run was blocked down the inner.
I am not saying he would have won but I think he would have been in the first six at least, and he gets his chance to show just how unlucky he was that day. Hopefully that experience hasn't soured him.
I will put up Glencadam Glory as a saver at 26.025/1 or bigger as I think this course will suit him a lot better than Epsom last time - he stayed on to take ninth in the Derby from off the pace - and his trainer has won this race twice in recent seasons.
The horse had a habit of starting slowly and blowing his chance at the start before Epsom, but they did a lot of work at home with him before the Classic and he jumped out smartly, only to be reined back on purpose from his outside stall in 18.
He will need to start similarly well if he isn't going to be shuffled back again from stall two, but I'll take my chances at the price. I expect him to be staying on well from off the pace and this stiff finish will suit.
Go Mainstream in the Duke of Edinburgh - but add some Fantasy
Before Sir Michael Stoute stood up at a Highclere Royal Ascot preview dinner last Thursday and declared Mainstream a certainty for the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes at 17:35, the horse was a 12/1 chance.
He then quickly shortened to 9/1, and was 5/1 at the start of the week, though his price has edged out a touch since.
There is little doubt that he is handicapped to take a hand in the finish here, as his third at Newmarket - his first start since being gelded - has worked out ridiculously well.
The winner was runner-up in the Coronation Cup, and the second, Top Tug, and fourth won next time out, and he only has to race off a 2lb higher mark here. Plus the trainer has a great record in this race, and regularly lays one out for it. It sounds like Mainstream is the one.
He has to be on your shortlist, but be warned. He is apparently a very stubborn and moody character - which is why he was gelded, I guess, and wears a hood - and he can be slowly away.
I will have him as a saver on him at 7.26/1, but my main bet at a much bigger price is another one-time rogue - or at least he was labelled that in some quarters - in Oasis Fantasy. Back him at 26.025/1 to win and 5.04/1 to place.
He has raced over 1m2f for his last nine starts - and he finished an excellent head second of 17 off a 1lb higher mark than this at Glorious Goodwood last season - but he is equally as effective over this trip.
Indeed, his last two victories have come over 1m4f and he has been placed in both of his starts at this course over that distance.
It was his effort at York last time put me on to his chance. He was ridden far more aggressively than usual there, and it came on ground softer than ideal, but he stuck on really well when third to the runaway winner Master Carpenter.
Back up to 1m4f on faster ground, under a more patient ride, and on just his fourth start for David Simcock - he was bought for 100,000 guineas by present connections last October - I think he could go very well at a price, for all he is more exposed than the likes of Appeared.
Back Salouen at 11.010/1 and Glencadam Glory at 26.025/1 in the 15:05
Back Intelligence Cross at 66/1 each way (Sportsbook) in the 15:40
Back Mainstream at 7.26/1 to win and Oasis Fantasy at 26.025/1 to win and 5.04/1 to place in the 17:35