With resident tipster Tony Calvin on holiday, Alan Dudman steps up to the plate for the televised action for Shergar Cup Day at Ascot. He also has a couple of bets for Haydock.....
"Nicholas T finished runner-up in the mile race here last term, so he needs to prove himself for this, but he stays 1m2f well."
With nine races, and all six from Shergar Cup Day to be played out in front of the ITV4 cameras, Saturday's action promises to be fast and furious. With that; the Dash kicks off the day's proceedings at 13:05, and Tis Marvellous looks an excellent bet at around the [7.0] mark. Probably nearer bet of the day material.
In fact, I was a little surprised he was as big as [7.0] considering his run in the Wokingham at the Royal Meeting. He finished fourth over the far side on that occasion behind Bacchus and Dreamfield - and the second wasn't beaten a million miles subsequently in the Group 1 July Cup.
That's outstanding form in the context of this rather open-looking sprint, and that goes alongside Tis Marvellous' run on his reappearance at Newmarket behind Stewards' Cup winner Gifted Master.
Yes we have to forgive the run of the selection behind Gifted Master again at the Sussex venue, but it's one of those Goodwood races you can just put a line through at that track. Hard luck stories and no-shows are common themes there.
Tis Marvellous was a quality 2yo who was pitched into some hot 3yo races afterwards against the likes of Battaash and Caravaggio - so from a mark of 100 I have no problems backing him. He's proven at Ascot and stays 6f well - so there'll be no doubts with him finishing either.
Indeed, that was the case at Newmarket earlier in the season when he stayed on late in a race that wasn't run to suit.
The track and stiff finish might not play to the strengths of quicksilver El Astronaute - who has failed in his previous sole attempt at the venue. Around [6.0], he is likely trading material for a quick back-to-lay, and could be the sort to lay back at around [3.0] with an increased lay stake for a green book.
It's worth noting trainer Robert Cowell likes this race with three winners since its inception. His trio are priced on the Sportsbook at 8/1 Sir Robert Cheval, 11/2 Encore D'Or and 9/2 Evergate.
With the column remit of looking for the bigger price, Stars Over The Sea has got to be included at around [14.0] for trainer Ian Williams - who is double-handed in this with Byron Flyer. More on the latter later.
Stars Over The Sea has a few question marks but a case can still be made. His effort last time at Newbury was a poor run, however it smacked of a race that was very much needed. It was his first outing since October in the previous year and was also his debut for Williams.
Maybe this race has been the plan? He should also be looked at in the 4 Places Market with a little insurance.
The hood is on for the first time and he could be a player from 98 on his old form with previous trainer Henry De Bromhead.
If you're like me, and struggle to spot your horse in these races with the team colours, at least we should be able to sight his rider Gerald Mosse - the man with the white gloves.
I'll probably get sucked in with Byron Flyer too, he's an old friend who should have more wins next to his name. In fact, a record of 0-10 on the Flat is a bit harsh for a horse rated in the 90s.
He likes finishing second, and was runner-up in this race 12 months ago. Hayler Turner rides and he travels well for a stayer. He was a tad unlucky in the Chester Plate earlier in the season and I would kick myself several times if I left him out and he went one place better.
Trainer Jim Goldie has been winning some decent handicaps this term. Euchen Glen won the John Smith's Cup recently, and Goldie also struck with a pair of nice winners at Goodwood with Sir Chauvelin and Tommy G. Here's hoping to another win with Nicholas T.
A horse synonymous with the word unlucky. The 'T' might well stand for trouble.
He often meets traffic problems but that's the way he needs to be ridden; cold and held up for a late challenge. This is some challenge for his rider Per-Anders Graberg, but the price of [12.0] compensates for that.
You can take your pick from his hard luck stories in his career, and one that stands out was the recent effort at his beloved Ayr. He really ought to have won that.
Nicholas T finished runner-up in the mile race here last term, so he needs to prove himself for this trip, but he stays 1m2f well and with the way he's played late, the stiff finish at Ascot might help him. After all, he charged home when finishing second in the Zetland Gold Cup behind Big Country earlier in the season.
Maybe another late rattle is on the cards?
The Shergar Cup Mile looks the most open contest of the day with a 5/1 the field market. This will be one of my quieter races, but a small stakes bet on Across Dubai is recommended at a decent price.
He clearly hasn't lived up to early expectations, and he was a horse who held Derby and Dante entries last term. He has mostly been campaigned over 1m2f and 1m4f, so it's a new test over today's shorter trip and that just might suit. Often in races he has suffered due to a steady gallop, this should be a bit more suitable with a proper pace and they'll go a bit quicker over 1m.
He finished third at Chelmsford from 95 earlier in the season, and his trainer William Haggas doesn't mind sending his horses for handicaps at the Essex venue, as we saw with recent Goodwood winner Seniority.
When Across Dubai gets it right he looks good - and he travelled like a decent horse when winning at Haydock last term. However, we have to forgive a few bad runs in there, but he is worth a small interest over a new trip.
The most progressive runner in this field by a mile is Gossip Column. His upward trajectory shows no sign of stopping and he could be a future Chester Cup horse. He has won four times from 1m2f and 1m4f with 32lb of improvement this term - and he doesn't look like he is finished.
The [3.90] price on him seems more than fair. But for the column is there anything at a bigger price?
Berkshire Blue is the complete unknown. He hammered a field in a novice at Wolverhampton by 11 lengths on just his second start, and he was pitched into the Group 3 Bahrain Trophy last time - a race which is effectively a trial for the St Leger.
He was well beaten there and runs in a handicap for the first time today from 90 with the "Magic Man" Joao Moreira booked - one of the greatest jockeys in the world.
My only doubt is with that mark. He had been backed earlier on Friday on the Sportsbook from 12/1 to 10/1, but Gossip Column might be too tough to beat.
His mount looks the standout in this race - the impressive-looking colt George Of Hearts. He cost 470,000 euros as a breeze-up buy and he has a bit about him, including plenty of Ascot form for a lightly-raced horse.
He was in a hot race behind Crack On Crack On at the track last month and was backed for the Britannia at the Royal Meeting and ran well in the main group from his draw of 32. He also met a bit of trouble in the big handicap.
The other race of note at Ascot this season was over 7f in 0-105 company - and he missed the break in that and got himself too far back.
From a rating of 91 he could still be well treated, and I get the feeling he could be a 100-horse down the line. Again we are dealing with a fair price of around [4.20], and there's every chance this drop back in trip down to 6f could really suit if they go a pace.
He could be the class in the race.
Of the bigger priced runners, Bungee Jump is a great credit to Grace Harris - who claimed the horse from Kevin Ryan earlier in the season. He's been running well in handicaps and has improved 12lb since the switch. He's a tough sort that can be backed at [11.0] and has form up to 7f and 1m - so he'll not want for stamina.
There was also a bit of cash on the Sportsbook on Friday for Helvetian - perhaps with the forecast rain and thunderstorms on Friday. He could be best with a bit of juice in the ground, but he looked a very progressive horse when winning the money at Kempton from 88 earlier in the year.
He ran with credit behind Lord Riddiford last week at Goodwood but doesn't quite make the list.
It's time to be on "forecast watch" for the Haydock card - and it's something to keep in mind with the track hosting racing on Friday evening (and starting after this column is published at 17:45). If there is rain or the ground rides on the slower side, then a pair of fillies should enjoy cut in the shape of Narella and Shepherd Market.
Although they will have to be decent to beat favourite Agrotera, who absolutely dotted up in the Sandringham at Royal Ascot last time. It's fair to say she was well-handicapped in that - ridiculously so. In fact, she looks a Group filly in the making for Ed Walker and her owner-breeder Bjorn Neilsen.
Her Ascot victory came on quick ground, but if there's rain she shouldn't have a problem judged on her run behind Dathanna on soft ground earlier in the season.
Clive Cox's Shepherd Market is the likely front-runner in the field and she'll definitely need some dig in the surface. She's from the only crop of Cox's Reckless Abandon so it's an important race in terms of her breeding and the family, as he turned out to be subfertile at stud.
She made her comeback for the season over course and distance in May but hung left - so she needs to sort that out, but she should improve on that run.
The other to note is Roger Varian's Narella - who holds the highest rating in the field of 102. Whether she is worth that is another matter - as I have no idea how strong the Group 3 she landed for Markus Klug in Germany was, but German form can be often underrated. If she nudges towards [10.0], she could be the play in the race.
Shepherd Market is solid if you are looking for a place bet.
The Group 3 Rose Of Lancaster is the feature for the afternoon over 1m2f with Elwazir as the short price fav at 6/4. He's rated 105 and has earned a crack at his Group stripes, but a selection at that price, it's fair to say, will never appear in this column.
Put it this way, if I did, I doubt I will be asked back!
This race was mentioned as his target and he's looking to follow in the footsteps of the trainer Owen Burrows' Laraaib - who won the same Ascot race before finishing third in this. Of course he's progressive, you don't mind me to tell you that, and he takes a step up in class here.
There's an argument to say that Communique has achieved far more already and he can be backed at 11/2 on the Sportsbook. He's a typical looking Mark Johnston horse; big and rangy who was a bit raw earlier in the season but is flying in handicaps. He landed the London Gold Cup from 84 a few months ago, and has since landed a couple of big pots at Newmarket (from 92) and Goodwood (97).
The London Gold Cup usually throws up a Group horse and he is bound to get further than today's trip in time.
Brorocco ran well in a Group 2 at York last time, but I've no idea where that run came from and I'm not convinced about him at this level. He looks vulnerable to an improving 3yo - which is exactly what Communique is. Most of his races have been on good or good to firm with just one outing on good to soft - and he seemed to handle that fine.
I doubt the Group 3 Sweet Solera would have floated Tony Calvin's boat as a betting race if he was here, and it's the same for me.
Man Edition and La Pelosa meet once again in their private battle - although I was disappointed with latter's run at Sandown last time. Very disappointed.
Godolphin tend to throw some decent fillies at this race; the likes of Discourse, Certify, White Moonstone and Ihtimal were all successful, but La Pelosa doesn't quite look up to that level.
It's 5/2 against 7/2 for the two, with the bigger price on La Pelosa.
We'd be guessing with a punt on California Love at 12/1 on the Sportsbook for just her third start. She looked very good in winning a novice race at Newmarket over 7f easily. In fact she travelled ever-so-well to stamp herself down as potentially useful.
It's a decent price, but we are backing potential and I can leave her out of today's portfolio.
Minimum Bet Guarantee
Betfair's 'minimum bet guarantee' on all Class 1 and 2 races in the UK and Ireland - which means all customers are able to bet to win a minimum of £500 - has been extended to cover all of Saturday’s Ascot, Haydock, Newmarket and Chelmsford races. T&Cs apply.
Back Tis Marvellous @ [7.0] in the 13:05 at Ascot
Back Byron Flyer @ [7.0] and Stars Over The Sea @ [14.0] in the 13:40 at Ascot
Back Nicholas T @ [12.0] in the 14:15 at Ascot
Back Across Dubai @ [13.0] in the 14:50 at Ascot
Back Narella @ [9.0] in the 14:30 at Haydock
Back Communique @ 11/2 Sportsbook price in the 15:05 at Haydock