After a successful week in the tipping chair in-form Tony Calvin has a quintet of recommendations for the final day of Royal Ascot...
"I fully get the case for Sceptical and Hello Youmzain at the top of the market but the selection is the form horse and the one to beat on his head second to Blue Point in this race last season..."
I have found bets a touch harder to come by as the week has progressed, and perhaps none more so than on the final day at Royal Ascot on Saturday.
Initially, at least, it had the look of a card where bets would be thin on the ground.
As I always say, never force a bet just because you are bored or want an interest in a race that is on the box. The next punting opportunity is never far away.
Focus on Hyper to start your punting day
But I warmed to the action, starting with Hyperfocus in the opener at 12:40. Back him at 33/1 each-way, five places, with the Betfair Sportsbook.
On the face it, he comes here after a pretty lacklustre return at Newcastle but he has never shone on his reappearance since winning on debut in 2016 - he stepped forward significantly from first to second run last term - so I am not too concerned about that run.
But I am very enthused by the fact that he was dropped 3lb for it, which brings him back to the same mark as when he finished a head second to Gulliver in the 22-runner Coral Sprint Trophy just three starts ago.
The weather can do what it likes for him, as he has form on good, soft and heavy ground - in fact, more rain would probably be a big plus given his three excellent runs in testing conditions last season, but it looks largely dry from here on - and he is handicapped to play a far more leading role than 33/1 quotes suggest.
He likes to go forward, so expect him to get on the stands' rail from stall 23 of 24 and try to hang on. Hopefully, it will be the place to be - and Friday's action suggested it could be yet again - but you never know at Ascot.
Another outsider in a Wide Open handicap
Open Wide didn't have a race at all when a considerate fifth at Goodwood at the weekend - he will have done more walking out of his box in the mornings - and he could be a contender at 20/1+ if the ground doesn't ride too bad.
In fact, I am going to have a saver at [23.0] or bigger win-only on the exchange.
Like I said, he was given an easy time of it at Goodwood, after having no chance from off the pace at Newmarket on his return, and he is just 1lb higher than when chasing home Khaadem in the Stewards' Cup last season.
If the track continues to dry out, then he has a big chance, and his last three form figures at this track read 2-2-3, the latest run a length third to Swindler off a 1lb higher mark than this in September.
His midfield draw gives this closer options, and I expect a more aggressive ride on him here.
Lots to Love about Locket
Sorry to be predictable, but I am happy to let others work out the mystifying puzzles that follow, namely the 2yo races, the Queen Mary and the Coventry. Just far too many unknowns for me.
And, I will be honest with you, the seven-runner Coronation Stakes and the St James's Palace Stakes that are next up hardly had me reaching for the "back" button straight away, I can tell you.
But the Ballydoyle second string Love Locket at [26.0] or bigger in the Coronation Stakes at 14:25 looks too big to me.
I appreciate she has a lot to find with Group/Grade 1 fillies in here, having just beaten a 101-rated rival by 1 ½ lengths over 7f at Leopardstown on her reappearance.
But don't forget she, herself, went into that Group 3 race rated a mere 88, so she clearly made great strides to win that day, even if she had the ideal spot, on the inner and on the pace.
She goes up another two grades here and an extra furlong, but her dam was a winner over 1m4f (on soft), so I wouldn't have any qualms about stamina, and her confirmed ability to shine in very testing conditions at two is another plus, for all the recent victory came on good to firm. So she should be fine, whatever the weather does.
She is a filly with a lot of upside - and her jockey Seamie Heffernan was very complimentary about her after that Leopardstown victory, though I suppose he was never going to talk her down - and she could cause a minor shock here.
Dreaming of a winner in the Diamond Jubilee
The meeting finale, The Queen Alexandra, makes zero appeal, so that just leaves us with the Diamond Jubilee and the Wokingham.
If the gelding operation has done its job, then Dream Of Dreams has a much better chance than odds of [9.4] or bigger would have you believe in the Diamond Jubilee at 15:35.
I fully get the case for Sceptical and Hello Youmzain at the top of the market but the selection is the form horse and the one to beat on his head second to Blue Point in this race last season, where he pulled clear of Kachy in third (with Speak In Colours and The Tin Man in behind, with Sands Of Mali well below par and beating one home).
His form fell away dramatically after that but hopefully having the cruelest cut has rectified matters on that score, and I am happy enough he can show his form in the soft (ish) ground.
Last year's second came on quick ground but he has three smart performances to his name on soft - including when just touched off here in a Group 3 in October 2018 - and he did win first time up last season, too.
Let's hope the vet has done the business.
Ground and course form point to a big run from Lupton
I will definitely give Mr Lupton a spin at [26.0] or bigger in the Wokingham at 16:10.
He ran a perfectly solid race on his return when fourth to Oxted in the Group 3 Abernant at Newmarket, and I was very surprised he was dropped 3lb for it.
That means he has come down 7lb in the weights since beating Speak In Colours off levels in a Group 2 at the Curragh last May - and Connor Murtagh takes another 3lb off, too - and that makes him dangerous to all.
He has plenty of soft ground form and he has run well on all three visits here, notably when a neck second in a Listed race (on soft) in October 2018. And he has plenty of big-field wins to his credit, too, and you can argue his best form has come on quick ground, so drying conditions are no hardship.
Of course, you can make a case for bundles in here - Gulliver and Hey Jonesy, blinkered first time, maybe are the two others that interested me most at the prices - but he is getting my cash, even though a draw in eight could be on the low side.
Briefer than usual, but hopefully profitable.
Hope you had a great week.
Check out Betfair's video guide to Ascot, in association with Timeform...
Hyperfocus at 33/1 each-way, five places, with Betfair Sportsbook in 12:40
Open Wide at [23.0] or bigger in 12:40
Love Locket at [26.0] or bigger in 14:25
Dream Of Dreams at [9.4] or bigger in 15:35
Mr Lupton at [26.0] or bigger in 16:10