It's Future Champions day at Newmarket but Tony Calvin is more interested in a 34-runner handicap as he brings us his latest ITV racing tips...
"He has yet to do it in a big field and has two run awful races this season, but he comes here in peak form and I think he has a massive performance in him."
I put up Mondain at 20/1 each-way for the Cesarewitch in my ante-post column on Monday and I am certainly not deserting him now.
I won't be putting him up afresh here, but if you are new to the party then he remains the premier bet in the race at 13/114.0 or bigger win-only on the exchange, even if odds ebbed away through Friday.
The case for him is as straightforward as it convincing. Hopefully.
First up, he is officially the best-treated horse in the 34-strong field.
Yes, others may potentially have more in hand - most obviously, the improving 3yo Coltrane - but if the handicapper had his chance then Mondain would be carrying 3lb more than he does here.
Some may think that doesn't count for a lot in this 2m2f race, but it does when you factor in the other positives surrounding his chance.
This horse isn't bred to get much beyond 1m2f but he is a proper stayer, as was evidenced by his 5 ½-length win over Fun Mac over an extended 2m1f at Ayr last time. He just galloped them into submission.
He has tasted defeat only once in his four starts over 2m or further, and he has improved since that second at Ascot in August, a race in which the winner and third came from well off the pace and the selection could well have been disadvantaged by racing prominently.
He then went on to meet serious trouble in running at Ripon, bumped into a handicap blot in Believe In Love over 1m6f in the soft on the July course - but just go and look at the way he finished off his race, pulling 7 lengths clear of the third who ran well in defeat next time - and then routed the opposition at Ayr last time.
He is an improving horse who I don't think will have any issues in the ground (which now looks like being good to soft), and this extreme stamina test promises to really suit him.
He has yet to do it in a big field and has two run awful races this season, but he comes here in peak form and I think he has a massive performance in him.
So actually, bin the above comment.
I have just re-convinced (if that is a word) myself and am backing him again at 13/114.0 or bigger win-only, and suggest you do the same, even if that price was about four points bigger on the exchange on Friday morning.
I would have him vying for favouritism - and he may well be before too long if the market momentum behind him (and, granted, you shouldn't get carried away by early moves as they often wither away) continues.
Let's hope he can the follow in the footsteps of Scatter Dice, who took this prize for the same owner and trainer in 2013.
Mullins aiming to win three on the spin
Having said on Monday that we seemed certain not to a get a maximum field of 34, given we only had 36 five-day entries, how unlucky must the connections of Lightly Squeeze be feeling after all bar Verdana Blue stood their ground on Thursday. And she would have run had she not picked up an injury.
That means the Irish horses are coming over en masse, despite the Irish Cesarewitch taking place at the Curragh on Sunday, and Willie Mullins is now responsible for the favourite in Great White Shark.
Mullins has won the last two runnings of this race and you can see the case for Great White Shark off a mark of 86, as she is up to 145 over hurdles after her Galway win over 2m7f in the soft last time out in July.
Ground and trip are no issues for this improving hurdler, but she does need to leave her recent Flat form behind her here and the price has largely gone with her.
I toyed with putting up a saver at a big price - my old mate Smart Champion has had his chances, but I can see outsiders Lynwood Gold, Dalton Highway and 2018 fourth Vis A Vis going well - but I am going to stick solely with Mondain, so let's not run one of your stinkers, eh?
Juvenile races look difficult to call
Regular readers will know that I like to write reams of copy of every televised race but I just cannot build up any betting enthusiasm for the three juveniles races on ITV before the Cesarewitch.
Of course, the 14-runner Dewhurst at 14:55 looks a brilliant race on paper and promises to be some spectacle, but I have no idea what will come out best from a host of unexposed and improving colts.
I could maybe rule out three of the 14, but they are all 50/1 and bigger, and after that I am struggling. I will let others guide you there.
Kyprios is the predictable favourite, at a general 7/4, for the Zetland Stakes over 1m2f at 13:45 as he screamed stamina when winning over an extended 1m at Galway on his debut, is related to very smart stayers Search For A Song and Falcon Eight, and is proven in testing conditions.
But his price is no giveaway against higher-rated rivals, and I wouldn't rule out a bigger run from the 79-rated course winner Mystery Angel than her price of around 16/1 suggests.
And the Autumn Stakes over 1m at 14:20 looks even tricker to call. It actually looks a race that is ripe for an upset, and I did briefly entertain William Bligh at 25/1+, but, no, I am off to York in search of handicap action.
I won't Refrain from backing Light in the Rockingham
Having said that, Light Refrain does interest me in the 2yo Rockingham Stakes at 14:00 on the Knavesmire.
Her Newcastle win at heavy odds-on last time told us little but her earlier second to Lady Hayes over 7f at Salisbury came in a good time, and the winner followed up under a penalty at Haydock next time (albeit at odds of 3/10). The third was a further 4 ¾ lengths adrift, too.
She clearly needs to improve to take this - though the speed figures already give her every chance - and the other question mark is the ground, as she has yet to race on anything worse than good.
But she is by Frankel out of a mare who won a Listed race at two over 7f in the soft for the stable, so I think it is telling that William Haggas brings her here full in the knowledge of the likely conditions.
I can see Danny Tudhope looking to bounce her out in front over 6f here - she got on the far rail and went from the front over 7f at Salisbury - and proving hard to catch. She is not my usual price and is a rare 2yo punt, but I have backed her at 9/2 and I will be going in again at 9/25.5 or bigger.
Take another chance on Anything at York
Anythingtoday didn't quite come up to my expectations in the Cambridgeshire but he clearly ran well to finish seventh of 27 there and I am more than happy to give him another chance at 8/1 each way, four places, with the Betfair Sportsbook in the 14:35.
Once again, he may not have the scope for improvement of an Ilaraab, but I think he is handicapped to win soon, and the key to him is being produced later than he has been of late.
Prior to the Newmarket run last time, he had shown a good turn of speed to come to win his race on numerous occasions, only to be worried out of it late on.
This was firmly in evidence over course and distance two starts ago, where for all the world he looked like gagging up 1f out before being mugged late on, so this strong traveller just needs a far more patient ride.
He has won in the soft and has put up three good efforts at the course - he won off a 1lb higher market than this here over 1m4f last July - and I'll be disappointed, and poorer, if he is out of the first four.
I feel ashamed to inform you that I couldn't find a bet in the 22-runner 6f handicap at 15:10 but in my defence it is 9/1 the field if you shop around and that underlines what a devilishly hard contest this is to call.
Tranchee at a double-figure price came closest to being a selection, but the early 14s went on Thursday afternoon, and he shortened into around 9/1 on the exchange too, and my pricked punting ears went all floppy after that.
Perhaps I am just getting old.
But it is all about the price, and never forget that.
Light Refrain at 9/25.5 or bigger in 14:00 at York
Anythingtoday at 8/1 each way, four places, with the Betfair Sportsbook in 14:35 at York
Mondain at 13/114.0 or bigger in 15:35 at Newmarket