You may want to have a look at my ante-post column from Monday before you read today's fresh thoughts, as the betting advice there still very much stands.
I am very happy with the 33/1 about Heaven's Guest, and the 20/1 each way about Desert Encounter - the latter is actually bigger now, but there is obviously no Rule 4 on ante-post bets if there are any withdrawals now - but we will come on to them again in a minute.
Mistress of Venice is generously-priced
I'll get struck straight into Ascot's opener at 13:50, in which I think Mistress Of Venice is a bet at 10.09/1 or bigger in the Group 3 2yo fillies race.
Nyaleti and Dance Diva deservedly head the betting here but they take out too much of the market for my liking and no way should Mistress Of Venice be 9/1.
Okay, she finished three-quarters of a length behind Nyaleti in the Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket last time - and also one-and-a-half lengths in arrears of Neola, another fairly priced filly in this race, at York previously - but I don't think she was seen to best effect there.
Jim Crowley surprisingly decided to go toe-to-toe with Nyaleti on the front end and paid the price, his cause not helped by the filly hanging left towards the centre of the track in the final 2f. She actually did well to finish so close in fourth.
There is plenty of pace in here so if Crowley can rein himself, and the filly, in and adopt the waiting tactics he did when they had earlier finished an excellent fourth in the Albany here at 66/1 then I think we will see an improved performance. And she is actually rated the same horse as Dance Diva, and only 2lb shy of the favourite, coming into the race.
That York third came on soft ground and, as she has hung both right and left before, I would like to see her jockey get on a rail for her to race against.
Soft ground will suit D'bai
The 14:25 is a very tricky race but there are at last five possible pace angles in the race and that could suit D'bai, who is worth a nibble at 10.09/1 or bigger.
I fancy the ground could ride very testing at Ascot come Saturday afternoon, and the selection has a soft-ground win to his name. He appeared to run perfectly well to me when third at Newmarket a fortnight ago, but someone disagreed as he has been gelded (it's a quick turnaround after the chop, granted) since and runs in first-time blinkers here.
If the "set off, set on" approach works then he's a very interesting contender here, as I think he is a fairly handicapped horse off 105 as it stands. He was beaten by less than six lengths in the French Derby two starts ago, when given an awful lot to do from out of the back.
Why it might pay to back Havre De Paix
In the 150K 7f handicap at 15:00, I put up Heaven's Guest on Monday and I still think he is very fair bet at around 25/1 - there were excuses last time, he has had a wind op since and he is 9lb lower than when winning this race in the soft two years ago - but it certainly isn't a race short of well-handicapped horses.
Viscount Barfield (10lb), Makzeem (7lb) and Above the Rest (3lb) are all well-in and hold strong claims and I couldn't put you off either of that trio, and other market leaders like Fastnet Tempest and Flaming Spear (representing last year's winning owner Tony Bloom) are obvious contenders, too.
I nearly took a flier with Guineas seventh Top Score in a first-time visor but the prospect of soft ground put me off, but Havre De Paix is getting a few quid of mine at 40.039/1 or bigger, even though I'm not a massive fan of the jockey.
The case for this horse is pretty simple. She has proven form on testing ground and runs here off the same mark as when chasing home a very progressive filly in Mittens over 1m last time.
I think forcing tactics over 7f in the expected conditions will suit her - she is one of only two or three pace angles in the race, and has finished a close second on her only starts over 6f and 7f despite staying as far as 1m1f, so let's hope her jockey gets very busy, very early - and the stable are back in excellent form after suffering from a mid-season virus for two months.
Desert Encounter is a player in the King George
In the big one at 15:35 my thoughts haven't really changed from earlier in the week.
I think Enable is the likeliest winner, Highland Reel will struggle in the ground (if he runs) and if there is to be a shock it will come from Desert Encounter, who currently trades at around the 40.039/1 mark in the win-only Exchange market.
I'll quickly summarise Desert Encounter's chances. He needs to improve a lot to win this, no doubt, but he ran a career-best over 1m2f on fast ground in the Eclipse last time. There is no doubt that an extra 2f and easier ground will suit him here, and he is one from one at the course.
If the track gets a lot more rain he is a player, trust me.
A winner in waiting at York
Over at York, I am pretty sweet on Move In Time at 14.013/1 or bigger in the Skybet Dash at 14:40 but there are negatives attached, so let's address them first.
I actually think 5f on good ground in a strongly-run race are probably his ideal conditions, so 6f on worsening ground - the ground was good, good to soft in places on Friday morning, but a fair bit of rain was forecast from late afternoon onwards - is an obvious worry.
As is the form of the David O'Meara stable. Going into Friday, they had only one winner - a 13/8 chance - from 61 runners in the last fortnight.
However, against that, the horse does have two 6f wins to his name (form just nine starts at the trip) and one of his better form efforts came in a Group 3 win in France in heavy ground.
And, if you dig into the O'Meara stats, the form of the yard isn't as bad as it first appears. He has had 15 seconds in the past fortnight, and 12 thirds.
More pertinently, what we have in his Move In Time is a winner in waiting. In fact, he should be coming here after scoring here earlier in the month, but he continually got no run throughout the closing stages - and I am taking the last furlong and more here - and he did well to get within two lengths of the winner.
He is a winner without a penalty in my book, and there is no doubt that he is potentially thrown in here off 94.
Of course, he is a 9yo now and getting on a bit but he was rated 113 at his peak, when his wins included the Group 1 Abbaye in 2014, and he put up one of his best handicap performances at this track that year when a short-head second to Blaine off a mark of 103.
If they don't get too much rain by off-time, I can see him vying for favouritism. And winning.
Of the opposition, I do think the strong-travelling Ultimate Avenue has a big race in him after an unfortunate third at Newmarket in a first-time tongue-tie - he is 3lb higher here, but rightly so, even if rain for him probably wouldn't be ideal - and if it does turn very testing then Mobsta could be interesting off his falling mark of 102.
I won't have a bet in any of the other two ITV-televised races at York, but in the opener at 14:05, Von Blucher looks fairly handicapped off a 2lb lower mark than his sixth in the Bunbury Cup.
Autocratic looks the right favourite in the 15:15 but it isn't hard to see Success Days getting an easy lead - he may have to see off occasional front-runner Elbereth first - and his connections will applaud every drop of rain that falls in the next 24 hours at York. He is a proper mudlark, and could well have his ideal conditions here.
Back Mistress Of Venice at 10.09/1 or bigger in 13:50 at Ascot
Back D'bai at 10.09/1 or bigger in 14:25 at Ascot
Back Move In Time at 14.013/1 or bigger in 14:40 at York
Back Havre De Paix at 40.039/1 or bigger in 15:00 at Ascot
Already recommended ante-post
Back Heaven's Guest at 33/1 in the 15:00 at Ascot
Back Desert Encounter at 20/1 each-way in the 15:35 at Ascot