It's farewell to Tony Calvin for a few months who is taking a thoroughly deserved break, but not before our top tipster puts up five bets to consider on the final day of Royal Ascot...
"He was just beaten by Scarlet Dragon in the Duke Of Edinburgh here last season and then he went to the Old Newton Cup at Haydock in the mud and won it comprehensively off a lofty mark of 105."
The one plus about Friday's deluge is at least we know how the ground will ride on the final day of Royal Ascot - we are due a bit more overnight, too - but it now has a bit of a "Chester" feel about it.
If you are betting at Chester, you have to pay a punchy premium if backing low-drawn horses, and at Ascot on Saturday you will be doing likewise if you want to side with the proven mudlarks.
The classic example of this is Wonderful Tonight in the Hardwicke. She was double-figures across the board when I put in a good word for her on the Racing Only Bettor Podcast on Thursday, but she is now half the price after the rain.
Anyway, more of her, and other dramatic shorteners, later.
I don't suppose there is any way around the ground v crashing price dilemma, so let's crack on.
Godolphin pair caught the eye in Jersey Stakes
Point Lonsdale is the short-priced favourite in the Chesham at 14:30 after impressing on the eye and the clock in a wide-margin win over this trip on the Curragh on his debut, and the form was given a boost of sorts when the second was just touched off in a decent Gowran Park contest next time.
But do you want to be taking even the lengthening 7/4 on the exchange about a horse unproven in these conditions against similar once-raced, unexposed youngsters?
The answer has to be no from this quarter.
Sweeping is probably the one I like most at the prices after a good second to Dhahab at Leicester on his debut - the winner should have finished second at worst in the Coventry on Tuesday - but it was fast ground that day and who knows how he will cope with heavy (and a drying, cloying heavy at that).
I also don't have a betting opinion in the Jersey Stakes at 15:05.
I was going to say unfortunately but I don't need to apologise for not tipping when I am not punting myself.
It was hard enough to call before the rain came, and I have now gone off my original lean Naval Crown (though he has now drifted to 11/1 with the Sportsbook, so I was half-tempted again), and another in the same Godolphin colours, Storm Damage, was probably the one that interested me at a bigger price.
But now he is not that much bigger.
He is clearly the joker in the pack, coming here on the back of a sole all-weather win just 17 days ago, but, boy, was he impressive in beating a fair sort pointless over 7f at Kempton.
He has loads to find with the form horses but he obvious rates highly on potential and there is some encouragement in his pedigree that he will cope with the ground - his sire gets his fair share that so, and the dam won on the softest ground she encountered and some of his siblings have obliged in deep conditions - so I wasn't going to rule out a swing at a price.
However, he was 33s on Thursday, and the general 22s in the marketplace disappeared when he was tipped up elsewhere on Friday afternoon, and he is into 15.014/1 on the exchange at the time of filing.
Some write their columns without reference to historical prices, or indeed any odds at all - incidentally, the betting coverage has been woeful and inaccurate in the mornings on Sky Sports Racing this week, and they need a dedicated, serious person in this slot (as do others) - but I can't be recommending horses at the tail-end of early, small-stakes gambles.
And, in truth, he is a total guess-up anyway, so I can leave the race alone.
Take a flyer on an outsider in Hardwicke
Back to Wonderful Tonight in the Hardwicke at 15:40.
As I mentioned earlier, she was 10s with the Sportsbook on Thursday, and even a touch bigger elsewhere, but her price fell in conjunction with every single raindrop and double-figures quotes are now a distant memory (though I appreciate we have had three NRs since).
Indeed, she is only a 6.05/1 chance on the exchange, and that is the biggest in the marketplace, with 4/1 tops on the fixed-odds front.
For all I rate her chance, and she was devilishly impressive when winning her second Group 1 in heavy ground over course and distance last October - with her sex allowance, she sets the form standard here - the bird has surely flown as regards price, and this is a fair test for her on her reappearance.
That was ultimately the no-bet clincher for me, especially as she was beaten first time up in 2019 and 2020, though I accept we should be judging her on the back-end form.
Similarly, Albaflora, 18s on Thursday (and one firm left a 12/1 arb up for hours yesterday afternoon) but now a top price at 11/2 with the fixed-odds books, is hard to entertain each-way at her current odds.
She surely must drift again as I can't recommend her at 5s win and place now.
I am going to take a flier with Deja at 40/1 each-way, four places, with the Betfair Sportsbook.
He has run like a drain on both starts this season, including when a big late drifter behind Albaflora over course and distance last time, but we are getting the price as compensation and his best form has come in these conditions.
He was just beaten by Scarlet Dragon in the Duke Of Edinburgh here last season and then he went to the Old Newton Cup at Haydock in the mud and won it comprehensively off a lofty mark of 105.
On that form he is not a no-hoper here by any means, and I'll take my chances at the price.
The stable have had a barren spell this season, but they had their second winner of the season at Chelmsford on Wednesday and I'd love to see Peter Chapple-Hyam, who has had his troubles since his star shone so brightly in the 90s, get back on that Ascot winning podium again with his chubby, cheeky grin.
Especially as I would have just won a few bags beforehand if he does.
Dreams can finally land Diamond Jubilee
The money has predictably come for Glen Shiel in the Diamond Jubilee at 16:20 as he should be all the better for his pipe-opener at the Curragh last month and he will be in his element here.
He took off at the end of last season, rounding off a successful campaign with a Group 1 win here in the soft in October, and everything is spot on for him here.
But, as I said, he has not been missed in the market now - he is just 9/2 with the Sportsbook - and the horse who beat him pointless in the Haydock Sprint Cup last September, is much the likeliest winner.
Step forward, Dream Of Dreams.
He had an ideal prep when winning as he was entitled to do at odds-on at Windsor on his return, and he is well set to right some wrongs in this race.
He has been touched off in a photo in the last two runnings of this contest, he is likely to handle the deep ground (he has a great record in soft, even if he did disappoint in his sole start in heavy) and he is the highest-rated horse in the race, too.
Everything looks set for a winning run, and he was going to be a selection for me at around 7/2 but then Starman (who I didn't particularly fancy) came out and his price obviously shortened further.
He was available at 3.953/1 at 6am on Saturday and I would have tipped him at that price, but he has shortened into 3.65 and I can just about let him go now. If he hits 3s again on the exchange that will be my trigger point to get involved.
Lynn has sound claims in Wokingham but was can pass
You will rarely see me contemplating backing and tipping a 9/2 poke in a 26-runner sprint handicap but King's Lynn has to be everyone's starting point when looking for the winner of the Wokingham at 17:00.
The downsides are that he runs here just four days after taking in the King's Stand on Tuesday, his draw in seven is troubling and he would never have raced on ground approaching this bad before - indeed, he was taken out on officially soft ground here last October - but the negatives come to a juddering halt there.
He was well handicapped on his Listed race win at Haydock last month before connections decided to take in the Group 1 5f race earlier in the week, instead of coming straight here.
I thought he was woefully underpriced at 8/1 there but he ran an absolute screamer and he would have shaken up the placed horses had he got any run up the inner in the closing stages.
As it was, he was beaten just 3 ½ lengths, and even a reproduction of that bare form would surely see him win this, especially as I reckon he is better suited to this 6f trip.
But for all he ran well on soft at Doncaster last season, this ground will be a different kettle of fish here, and I am more worried about the draw in seven, as I reckon the stands' side is the place to be once again.
Hands up, I did back him at 11/2 each-way, seven places on Thursday, before the rains came but I have deserted him at the last minute and am going to go win-only on two against him, with an honourable mention also going to Pendleton (all racing bods will be picturing Victoria when saying his name out loud, nap).
Two big-price alternatives
The first is Danzeno, drawn in 29, who has basically the opposite profile to King's Lynn.
He is a 10yo, he is thoroughly exposed, he has no secrets from the handicapper, and he has not raced for 250 days. And he could only finish ninth in this race (from just a 1lb higher mark) first time out last season.
But he has a great overall record at this track - three of his best efforts have come here, including in Group 1 company - his record on soft and heavy ground is excellent, and he did win by 6 lengths on his reappearance in 2019.
It is a concern that he has missed three recent engagements but that at least tells us - or me anyway - that he has been ready to rock for a while and this is a horse with a wealth of big-field handicap form, including when second off just a 2lb lower mark than this in the Portland last season. So he is no back number.
At 40.039/1 or bigger, I am happy to play, win-only, on the exchange. I think he is the sort who could drift to a silly price too, given his unsexy profile.
I am going to stick to my script and tip another exposed, ageing handicapper, and also one drawn high, proven on the ground and at the track, and who comes in here in winning form. And crucially we can also back Mr Lupton at 22.021/1 or bigger. 18/1+ for him will be fine (currently 20s with Sportsbook, six places).
He is back up to a mark of 105 after winning at York last time but this horse was winning a Group 2 not so long ago, was third in an Ayr Gold Cup off just a 2lb lower mark last season, and I like the angle of slow ground suiting this strong-closer.
In these conditions, you could need a hardy, old-stager, and he fits the bill.
Two 25/1 shots for the Golden Gates Stakes
I loved King Frankel on Saturday's Podcast when he was 10/1 but he is now favourite on the exchange at around 5/1 in the 17:35.
Cue me sulking and looking elsewhere.
Seasett was an obvious alternative but he has shortened the best part of three points since 4pm yesterday, and top of the list at the current prices are Pythagoras, Glentaneous and Irish Legend.
I have actually backed all three, but I will stick up just two here, starting with Irish Legend at 26.025/1 or bigger.
He blew out on good ground when last in the Sandown Classic Trial but perhaps he just needs a softer, and his action - and indeed the formbook - suggests that could be the case, though the way he dropped away at Esher indicated something could have been amiss.
Timeform called it heavy ground when he won at Nottingham on his debut and I thought he did it pretty snugly when winning in first-time cheekpieces at Newcastle last time.
He is only 3lb higher here and, with blinkers replacing pieces - Hugo Palmer has a good record with this headgear switch - I think there is plenty more to come from him on just his fifth start.
I can't recall the last time I backed or tipped a horse ridden by Martin Dwyer - I am just off to the doctors - but I can't ignore his mount Glentaneous here win-only at 26.025/1 or bigger.
He was only just touched off over 1m on his return, and I like the angle of him stepping up to 1m2f on deep ground here, off what I think is a fair mark of 89.
His dam won over 1m4f on heavy ground and he looks a big improver in these conditions after three starts - he is only a head and a neck away from coming here unbeaten - though granted this is his turf debut, so that is an unknown (though that could easily be a positive).
I backed Falcon Eight at 11/2 earlier in the week for the Queen Alexandra at 18:10 but I have gone off him a fair bit in this ground, and this is one of the better renewals in recent renewals, and at his shortening odds of 7/2 with the Sportsbook.
On Thursday, I said he looked more like an 11/4 chance, than 11/2, and actually made him my Racing Only Bettor Podcast nap and maybe he will be fine on the ground, but no tip here as it stands.
I am happy to leave it there, and I am delighted to sign off until September now, god willing, after a fair recent run and with five big-priced Saturday selections to boot.
Stay safe, and be luckier.
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