I originally wrote a 300-word intro about watering - focusing on how some trainers need to let the clerks do their jobs free of self-interested badgering - but I decided to scrap it and get straight to the racing, and we may as well start with the star attraction Baaeed in the Lockinge at 15:35, a race in which all nine thankfully stood their ground from the five-day stage.
Baaeed should bolt up
On all known evidence, the favourite should win as his price of around 1/2 suggests given his dominant level of form, though maybe William Haggas will be looking up at that sunny Newbury sky for the next two days and hoping for another shower or two.
But he clearly handles faster ground, and the potential odds-on layers are probably better off looking at other ways to approach the race, though I couldn't see any guaranteed pace in here, which will perhaps be playing on Haggas' mind as well.
The natural avenue is the Without Favourite market, especially with their being eight runners on this line (providing no non-runners, obviously) , but unfortunately they only tend to materialise on the site from Friday afternoons onwards.
Mother Earth is clearly the most solid of the opposition, especially as the pre-race market suggested she was likely to get beaten at the Curragh on her return (she went off at a Betfair SP of 1.91, when she was entitled be 1.5 or less on form), but I'll probably return to this race on Saturday morning.
I'll post any thoughts on Twitter on my handle. Alcohol Free has been the early mover against the favourite from 16/1 to 12s.
One caught the eye in the Carnarvon Stakes
Once again, you'd have liked to have seen more runners on such a valuable card, but we are where we are - we have nine meetings in the UK and Ireland on Saturday - and the opening Carnarvon Stakes at 13:35 has held up pretty well at the overnight stage, with nine rocking up from 15 at the five-day entries.
It immediately struck as a no-bet race for me, as I find edges so hard to find in these fiddly, close-knit, Listed races - the official ratings tell you as much - but I must say Ehraz caught the eye when third at Ascot on his return.
He finished 1 ¾ lengths behind Hierarchy there, and meets that rival on the same terms here, but go and look at the video of that race and you will see Jim Crowley gliding through the race on Ehraz and not subjecting his mount to anything like a hard time once the chips were down.
He was probably also disadvantaged by racing widest from the near rail, and I think you can expect considerable improvement here, especially as there are three in here set to give him a nice tow into the contest.
It is needed though, and I just wondered whether his price of 9/2 with the Betfair Sportsbook compensates for that in such a trappy little affair.
Nearly, but not quite, was the answer. Maybe if he hits 6s win-only on the exchange at some point (perhaps unlikely) I will have a dabble.
One can lead and hold on...
Without A Fight has gone forward in the past but I'd expect Outbox to lead in the 1m4f Group 3 at 14:10.
Unlike the top pair, the clear form duo Scope (I am still not entirely sold on the current form of the Ralph Beckett yard, despite a 13/8 winner at Salisbury on Thursday) and Eshaada, though they both carry 7lb Group 1 penalties, he is also race-fit and is bang in the mix at these weights.
He has won around here and handles quick and good ground alike but, once again, does he have enough going for him to warrant a bet?
I like my cases to be a toucher stronger than his to be honest but, then again, his opening price of 14/1 with the Sportsbook was getting on for double than I expected - and odds are the only consideration when betting - and his premier level of 2021 form (notably his second to Hukum at York) actually makes him the one to beat on these terms, plus Archie Watson is in roaring nick, going along at a current strike rate of 31 percent.
And maybe Outbox also needed it a touch at Newmarket last time, coming off a winning, if mercenary, cash-dash to Doha in February, not that it was a poor effort.
Unsurprisingly, the 14s didn't last long after midday on Thursday - and nor did the general 11/1 in the marketplace - and unfortunately nor did the revised 10/1.
I napped him on the Racing...Only Bettor Podcast at that price on Thursday evening and I must have made a half-decent case as he has been further trimmed into 15/2.
I can't tip him at that price - as I said on the pod, 8s was my cut-off point - so I suggest we look to back him at 10.09/1 or bigger on the exchange. However, 8/1 is the lowest price to take there.
Two selections in the London Gold Cup
We say it every year, but it invariably holds true - you have needed to be a future Group 1 or 2 horse to win this - and that is the London Gold Cup at 14:45 is one of the hottest handicaps around, with unexposed 3yos going at it. However, it looks a lesser-class renewal this season.
There looks set to be a lot of competition for the lead here, so I am not overly-concerned about pace considerations - the jockeys will have to adapt on the spot - and I will focus solely on the prices.
I am going to go in two-handed with the obvious, and a left-field selection, who was originally put in as the 33/1 outsider by the Betfair Sportsbook.
I will start with the latter, La Pulga, who I am sticking up at 21.020/1 or bigger on the exchange. You will get bigger given his profile but 20/1 (also his price on the Sportsbook) is the base price.
I am going in win-only here as I think he has a lot of blow-out potential as he looked anything but an easy ride at Sandown on his reappearance and he is not certain to stay.
The big positive about him is that I think he is the best handicapped horse going into the race judged on his neck second to Desert Angel over 1m at Doncaster last season, I know it was only a four-runner race but the winner is now rated 19lb higher, and the selection has gone up just 1lb since.
His two starts since have not been as encouraging, and he looked a tricky ride on his return at Sandown (his first start since being gelded), though he did knuckle down a bit in the closing stages on the rail, and he was dropped in from a wide draw from the start, so maybe it was a planned sighter for this.
And perhaps he needs this 1m2f trip, even though his pedigree may disagree.
Maybe I am getting suckered in by Roger Charlton's great record in the race - he has won three of the last six runnings, though it has to be said La Pulga looks to have no pretensions at all to Group class - but I will take a swing at the price.
Charlton actually owes his owner one in this race, as his Headman beat Mohammed Jaber's Sinjaari a short-head in this contest in 2019.
The Sportsbook (paying four places) rightly want to duck Mr Big Stuff at 4s at the moment, so I will be looking to back him win-only at 7.06/1 or bigger on the exchange. 5/1 would be my minimum.
He has a decent pedigree, being by Iffraaj out of a one-time 100-rated mare, so the scope for him to improve on a rating of 81 is clear, and the way he travelled through the race on his comeback at Nottingham augured well for his chances here.
Maybe, a lack of hard fitness found him out there against a race-sharp rival, and one that has since gone to just get touched off a 5lb higher mark next time.
The winner, Al Qareem, is now rated 8lb higher, and Mr Big Stuff was raised only 3lb for that second, a very fair adjustment considering the third horse, who went off favourite after winning his previous start, was 3 lengths away in third.
Actually, the winner of the Nottingham race and the third, Speycaster, actually run in the 4.10pm at York on Friday, so have a look at how they fare.
Richard Spencer has won with two of his last eight runners, and Hollie Doyle is often his go-to jockey. Let's hope she has a good day, as she also rides Outbox.
A Savvy bet lined up at Newmarket
It is very interesting that Sean Woods, fresh from a winner on Thursday to keep up his incredible strike rate of 37 per cent this season, sends his Savvy Victory to Newmarket for a Listed race instead of going for Newbury's London Gold Cup off a mark of 91 (Ryan Moore was jocked up at the five-day stage), so he may have a better chance than it first appears in the 13:50.
He clearly places his horses to maximum effect.
I'll take a small-stakes stab at 21.020/1 or bigger. He is also that price with the Sportsbook now, but I imagine you will get bigger on the exchange, with the likes of Ottoman Fleet likely to be all the rage.
An impressive winner at Pontefract (though it was a relatively modest maiden), he took his chance in the Chester Vase last time and ran as well as could have been expected - the handicapper actually raised him 4lb for it - despite maybe not seeing out the extended 1m4f trip.
The return to 1m2f will suit and, though his knee action suggests softer ground could be more welcome, he simply looks too big a price to ignore in a race full of unknowns.
I nearly plumped for Pocket The Profit at around 10/1 in the 6f handicap at 14:25 as I don't think we have seen the best of him here and at Chester on his last two starts.
However, there is no shortage of dangers in this sprint and I just wonder whether he wants 7f when he encounters decent ground, as he can get a bit outpaced over 6f on occasions. That could find him out here.
Market drifter can succeed once more
The one remaining ITV race is the 7f handicap at 15:00 and the question is do I want to row in with Shine So Bright again around 4/1 on the exchange?
He was a colossal drifter when winning for this column over course and distance last time - I tipped him up at 3/1 and he won at a Betfair SP of 7.87/1 - and I thought he did very well to pick up Wizard D'Amour, who re-opposes here, that day. Things didn't pan out ideally for him.
He clearly isn't an easy ride but he saw it out very well in a first-time hood, with the third 2 ½ lengths away, and a 4lb rise still leaves him competitively weighted off 102 (he has been rated 115 in the past).
The runner-up has a 2lb pull for a length defeat, so he could well be the biggest danger once again, and I came to the conclusion he is a bet at 5.04/1 or bigger on the exchange.
The talked-up Harry Davies again takes 7lb off, and three of the horse's best efforts have come on this track, on decent ground.
Whether the hood works a second time, we shall see, but I will pay to find out. I wouldn't go much lower than 7/2, though, if necessary. Hopefully, he gets more cover today.