Make sure the price is right...
Price is everything in betting - and don't let anyone tell you any different.
It doesn't matter a jot what you fancy. If you aren't happy with the odds on offer, you have to walk away, or look elsewhere.
Of course, the vast majority of punters do exactly the opposite and chip away regardless - and dare I say it, some tipsters, too - but they will be in for a nasty surprise if they keep a record of their profit and loss. And look at it.
I mention this, in a far too high-handed and superior manner obviously, because it is clear that some prices have long since sailed when it comes to Saturday's racing.
Or least the gangway is in the process of being raised.
To Gulliver or not...?
The most obvious case in point is Gulliver in the Ayr Gold Cup at 15:50. He was 16/1 in places on Monday but he is now half that price after being tipped up by anyone with a column during the week.
Some of those were happy to row in with him at 8/1, and I suppose you have to take each case on its merits and not be swayed by long-gone, ante-post positions.
And there is no doubt that Gulliver does hold obvious claims. Well, as clear-cut as you get in a 25-runner 6f handicap, despite the horse actually being 1lb badly-in at the weights.
He has pretty convincing claims even if you ignore his Curragh run last time - he is only 2lb higher than when beating Great St Wilfrid consolation race winner Growl convincingly in a 18-runner field at York in June on quick ground - but his Ireland third to Buffer Zone, who heads the betting here, last weekend sealed the deal for many, it seems.
We all tend to get seduced by a fast-finisher but it was clear he would have shaken up the comfortable winner there with an uninterrupted passage, and he is now 4lb better off.
The dilemma we now face with him is not only the price but his inconsistent profile.
After that York win, he finished 15th of 15 on his next start (on soft ground admittedly), but that was the third occasion he has trailed in last after winning his previous outing (and he has actually failed to beat a horse home on seven starts in his career).
He may be a very small saver for me - I really am still dithering as I write - but I can't have him as my main bet.
Gunmetal a value bet with plenty of places
Arecibo, Intisaab and Growl do look very solid place contenders - the former is priced accordingly, but the latter is a fair price at 25/1+ - but I think headgear could be the key to finding the winner of this race.
Hey Jonesy was very nearly the pick in his initial visor - the stable have won this race three times in recent years, and he looks a big player back to 6f off a falling mark - but the horse who has the honour of my being my premier selection is Gunmetal at 18/1 each way, six places (the 25s went early on Friday), with the Betfair Sportsbook.
He may not prove to be ideally drawn in 23 but I can't get overly-concerned by how the race may pan out, and this is a horse who ploughs his own furrow when on song anyway, as he showed when making all to beat a certain Dakota Gold by 2¾-lengths in the Great St Wilfrid at Ripon last season.
That win came off a mark of 97, and he remains of interest of 101 here.
Granted, I would obviously like him to be racing off his current, correct mark of 97 - this is an early-closer and he would have been racing off 4lb lower were this is a normal handicap - but I can live with that at the price.
Especially, as the first-time blinkers could see him spring back to form.
He has been below-par of late but he ran a couple of blinders off a 2lb higher mark than this at York and the Wokingham earlier in the season - he did best of those on the far side at Ascot, from off the pace - but the headgear is a very interesting angle for him.
David Barron is a fair 13 from 101 with this option in recent years, but it is also the horse's family history that interests me.
His half-brother Kensington won nine of his 10 races in headgear, while another, Scuba, won three of his four starts in blinkers (including first-time-up, with the other success coming in a visor).
So the signs are there that this could be a good move, especially as conditions looks ideal for Gunmetal, namely 6f and fast ground, as well.
So I hope to see another gushing Oisin Murphy interview with Matt Chapman on ITV just before 4pm on Saturday...
As for that Gulliver saver, I am happy to fly solo with Gunmetal. I will probably kick myself but it wouldn't be the first time.
Go to war with Waarif
I may as well stick with Ayr now, and the 1m handicap at 14:00 is the opener on ITV there.
Barron, trainer of Gunmetal, obviously has a major chance here with Kynren and things could well easily drop right for him for the first time since September 2017. He looks rock-solid at around 3/1, and is by far the most likely winner.
Irreverent is another horse who has halved in price since the start of the week and it is interesting that Richard Fahey has seen fit to put cheek pieces on the horse even after his win last time.
He's clearly a big runner here too, but I kept on coming back to last year's winner Waarif (below) at 10/1 each way with the Betfair Sportsbook. That looks a very generous offering.
He did us a 12/1 favour when winning this contest in heavy ground last season but he looked to have rather lost his way this term after a good spell in midsummer, the highlight of which was a Windsor 1m fast-ground defeat of recent dual subsequent winner Bless Him off a 1lb higher mark than this (though that good run of form also included a good second here).
But he signalled that he could be back in his business after four lacklustre runs with a 2½-length fourth to Davydenko at Doncaster last time, and he is set for a bold showing here on that evidence.
Get Knotted my Silver selection
The Ayr Silver Cup at 14:40 is next up and I like Get Knotted at 17.016/1 or bigger.
A lot of people will have him pegged as a York specialist and better over 7f, but a study of his record would contest that take.
He actually finished a head second in this very race in 2016 (off a 9lb higher mark) and you could argue that his best career effort also came over this 6f trip.
Furthermore, his record at this course is very good - form figures of 1310624, with the fourth being in the main event last year (off a 10lb higher mark) - and he shaped pretty well over 7f at Haydock last time when getting no racing room until the race was over.
I like the chances of this ground-versatile seven-year-old.
I don't have a betting opinion in the Firth Of Clyde Stakes at 15:15 - I agree that Orlaith is the right favourite - so off we trot to Newbury.
Unfortunately, they are not blessed with the big fields of Ayr, and that inevitably impacts on their punting attraction.
Well it does for me anyway.
The eight-runner Group 3 sprint at 13:45 makes about as much appeal as being an attentive waiter for Boris Johnson and Laura Kuennsburg in a romantic candle-lit soiree, and I am happy to let the old boy Desert Encounter win the 1m3f Group 3 at 14:20 for the second time without my cash.
He probably isn't a bad price at around the 6/4 mark, mind you, in his current nick.
I was torn about getting stuck into the Mill Reef at 14:55 as I can't have the second favourite Mystery Power under his 3lb penalty - and that Superlative Stakes win was in a poor Group 2, for all it came in a decent time - and, as much as I like Haydock winner Pierre Lapin, he is now 3s from 8s earlier in the week.
I'll admit to having a personal each-way nibble at Firepower at 33s as it is interesting that Clive Cox pitches him into a Group 2 here off a lengthy break since a modest showing at Royal Ascot.
But it is very hard to articulate a convincing case for him on paper - he looked a bit wayward earlier in the season, so being given time to strengthen up and a first-time hood could pay dividends - and so I can't really put him this well-regarded sort up as a bet (you have to persuade your reader), for all that I wouldn't be in the least surprised were he to figure in a very winnable race.
The solid each-way chances are Shadn and Malotru and the latter, fourth in the Gimcrack, is probably the safest win and place conveyance at 6/1, But this is another race I can leave alone.
Chief can execute a win
Forest Of Dean is 5lb well-in the 1m2f handicap at 15:30 and deserving of his price of around 11/4, but Exec Chief is worth an each-way investment at 20/1 with the Betfair Sportsbook, who are paying four places.
I do like a Saeed bin Suroor horse in first-time headgear so Great Example was considered, but Chief Exec is basically twice the price and that was obviously the clincher.
He blew out here in April (when carrying my cash) but he was previously unbeaten at this track in two starts and he has been largely consistent this season, including when seventh at Goodwood last time.
Dropped 2lb since, he is on his lowest mark since just losing out to the gambled-on Petrus at Doncaster on his reappearance, and his best turf efforts have come at and around this trip on decent ground.