In-form tipster Tony Calvin sets about Saturday's racing at Ascot and York and he's clear on his fancy in the King George but begins with a monster price in the preceding race...
"If Maxine Guyon can hold on to Fort Bastion as long as possible then I think a helter-skelter 7f on this faster ground is exactly what this tricky customer wants."
We will come to the winner of the King George later on in the article - if you can't wait, Magician strolls home - but I am so taken by the price that I have to lead with Fort Bastion at odds of 65.064/1 and bigger in the International Stakes at 15:15 at Ascot.
And the selection has a trading element to it as well, as I recommend that you put in a keep bet to lay the horse at 3.052/1 in-running.
But, first, the case for the selection...
Fort Bastion was a smart sort when with Richard Hannon earlier in his career, being rated 106 in his pomp and finishing second in a Chesham here as a juvenile, but he didn't shine when with Ed Dunlop and Richard Fahey last season, when suffering a fair few niggles by the sounds of it.
As a result, current handler Ruth Carr picked him up for a bargain 18,000gns last October and has got him back to somewhere near his best, winning at Thirsk in May before just being touched off at York, and he returned to form after a couple of below-par efforts when a good fourth at Newmarket last time.
I momentarily thought that he was coming to win his race there, but if Guyon can hold on to him as long as possible then I think a helter-skelter 7f on this faster ground is exactly what this tricky customer wants.
Granted, the horse has been known to look like winning, only to be found wanting. But that is where the in-running insurance comes in.
He traded at 2.35/4 in the run at Newmarket last time, and earlier defeat-from-jaws-of victory lows have included 1.16 (at York in May), 1.68/13, 1.824/5 and 1.834/5 failures.
So that get lay in. I suggest 3.052/1. Random, but feel free to choose your own single-figure odds, should you wish.
But never go up at a conventional price though, such as 2.01/1 or 3.02/1. You have more chance of getting matched if you are the next price up, in my experience, but that is a subject for another day.
Right, before I tip up Magician at 7.06/1 in the Qipco King George at 15:50, I have an admission to make.
I averaged 8.85 about Magician in Betfair's ante-post market earlier this week, so I am on at bigger prices. In fact, the price the layers were offering about Aidan O'Brien's 4yo had me half-suspecting that he wasn't certain to line up.
But he does and he is still very much a bet at the current odds, though any more of the thunderstorms that we had at the course this afternoon would seriously dent my enthusiasm as he likes it good or faster.
He comes into this contest as officially the best horse in the race, and after an excellent second to a peak-form The Fugue here over 1m2f last month, where the Arc winner Treve was a length behind in third and subsequent Eclipse winner Mukhadram a further 1 ½ lengths away in fourth.
That is comfortably the most solid Group 1 form any of this field can muster, and we saw when Magician beat The Fugue in the Breeders' Cup Turf that 1m4f on fast ground holds no terrors, and we know that he handles the track, too. Odds of around 5-1+ are simply too big.
Of course, you don't have to look hard for dangers and Telescope, Taghrooda and Eagle Top clearly have the potential to improve past him, but the price more than compensates on that score.
I don't fancy anything at the prices in the other two Channel 4 races at Ascot - though Osaila in the 14:05 and Voyageofdiscovery in the 14:40 are of mild betting interest - so over we go to York.
Again, two of the races make little appeal - though I was half-tempted by Maven in the opener - but I am going to give Hoof It another chance in the Skybet Dash at 15:30 at odds of 17.016/1 or bigger.
I backed the old-stager in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot, where the draw did for him. But, as they say, he ran a lot better than his finishing position suggested there and a 1lb drop in the weights since is always handy in these sprint handicaps.
And he had earlier been running well enough on the all-weather to suggest that a repeat of his win in this race three years ago, under today's jockey Kieren Fallon, is not out of the question. He'll do for me at the price.
The last bet on the Channel 4 races is Alfred Hutchinson in the 14:20.
The story with him is simple. He has been generously dropped 1lb for a good fourth to Bronze Angel over 1m here recently, and I think he could be more effective over this furlong shorter trip in strongly-run races.
Back him at odds of 8.07/1 or bigger.
There, I told you the case for him was straightforward. Let's hope that winning is, too.
Back Fort Bastion at 65.064/1 and lay in-running @ 3.052/1 in the 15:15 at Ascot
Back Magician at 7.06/1 in the 15:50 at Ascot
Back Hoof It @ 17.016/1 or bigger in the 15:30 at York
Back Alfred Hutchinson @ 8.07/1 in the 14:20 at York