I have said this before but I prefer going into the weekend racing unencumbered by ante-post positions - no matter how hard you try to resist, the strong temptation is to remain loyal to your original thoughts, which is illogical given how many things can change in a few days - and I duly have a blank canvass to work with for once.
Wait and see position could pay off
The horse that most interested me on Tuesday was Glenartney in York's 1m5f188yd Fillies' Stakes at 15:30 as I very much liked her profile stepping up in trip on a course on which she has shown her best form.
Furthermore, I thought the race had the potential to cut up.
I couldn't tip her at that stage though, as she is clearly a fragile filly who they have minded - she was a late non-runner three times last season - and she also held an entry at Goodwood, so she was very easy to resist (8/1 was available in the market).
So, as per the opening paragraph, it was good to come to the race afresh after the 10am decs on Thursday.
Well, she is entered but the fixed-odds 8s has gone, with the ante-post favourite Search For A Song not entered, and just seven runners means only two places for each-way investments.
Probably not the best "wait and see" position I have ever adopted, in hindsight.
However, I was very surprised to see her available as big as 15/2 when the betting re-opened on Thursday morning, and she is most certainly a win-only bet at 7.06/1 or bigger on the Exchange (I suspect you will get bigger). Mainly because none of the opposition is not remotely scary, for all she is the second lowest-rated female in here.
The form of the Roger Varian yard alone is enough to put you off Believe In Love at the price (this went live before he had some short-priced runners at Sandown on Thursday evening, so check those results) and Mighty Blue disappointed when an 11/8 chance in this race last year, though to be fair she is a decent price at 4/1+.
Urban Artist, second in this last year, could well get the run of the race from the front but I think Glenartney has plenty going for her at a bigger price.
Glenartney another Walker winner?
She finished a length behind Silence Please (who was badly hampered at one stage) at Goodwood on her return, but connections would have been delighted with the run. She was very weak in the betting there, going off a Betfair SP of 11.43, and it later transpired that she had been struck into the race, as well.
Returning to the scene of her best run, when third in the Galtres Stakes over 1m4f here last August, and stepping up to 1m6f for the first time - her run-style strongly suggests he will suit - I can very much see her finding the improvement to win this (I readily acknowledge she has 11lb to find with Believe In Love on official figures).
Another plus is Ed Walker's recent form. He was worried about the general health of his horses not so long ago but four of his last eight runners have won going into Friday's racing, so that would have settled his nerves. He has only had nine winners in total in 2022, so the signs are very good now.
The 6/1 with the Sportsbook is obviously acceptable if you want to back her there.
I am not getting drawn into the 6f handicap at 14:55 - though I expect Jawwaal to be ridden with more vigour than he was on his return here last week, and there have been early nibbles for him - so let's go elsewhere.
Give Annaf another chance
Only one of the two ITV races at Goodwood interested me and that was the 7f handicap at 13:45 in which I am very much inclined to give Annaf another chance after his disappointing run at Newmarket last time.
He went off as the 9/2 joint favourite there but the writing was probably on the wall from the start as he jinked coming out of the stalls, got broadsided, and then his jockey shuffled him across the track to get some running room.
And then he came back in and reported the horse didn't handle the dip.
Goodwood may not be ideal then - and all his previous form has been on the all-weather too - so there are questions to answer, but I think he has a handicap in him off 95 on the evidence of his fourth to El Caballo and Tiber Flow on All Weather Finals day at Newcastle last month.
Sure, the handicapper raised him 7lb for that (since dropped 1lb for the Newmarket run), but it was justified as that looks very strong form.
The winner El Caballo is favourite for the Sandy Lane at Haydock on Saturday, the runner-up Tiber Flow was a (lucky) winner in Listed company at Newbury last weekend and plenty in behind went into that contest on the back of winning efforts.
Having just his sixth start, he looks overpriced to these mince pies, even if being drawn 12 of 12 could cause his rider a few problems from the outside berth, especially if he blows the start again. We could know our fate early here, so buckle up.
Annaf actually opened up at a massive 20/1 on the Betfair Sportsbook just before 14:00 on Thursday but, as that was the biggest price in the marketplace by eight points, it was highly unlikely to survive.
It didn't but the revised 14s remains a bet win-only, as would 12/1+.
It passed me by when I looked at the weekend racing on Tuesday that Haydock's ITV card wasn't sponsored, but Cazoo - who were greeted in sniffy terms by some when announced as the supporter of the Derby and Oaks - stepped in at the last minute on Wednesday, albeit at a favourable rate (to both parties) you would assume.
Racing will do very well to retain similar companies as the financial squeeze hits home, let alone find new backers.
However, back to the racing itself, and I am going to focus on races in which I have a betting opinion.
Winning opportunity for Carlos Felix
I am very wary of Milton Harris' Songo in the 1m4f handicap at 13:25 as that man has the midas touch at the moment - I may even have a saver on him to cover my stake - but surely Carlos Felix, once bought for 700,000 euros, has been found a winning opportunity here.
He looked a horse going places when winning by 4 ½ lengths off a mark of 78 at Ascot in June but he simply failed to kick on and that was his sole victory on his dance card.
But he has been knocking on the door all season, coming second over 2m last time when he had the misfortune to bump into a gambled-on winner (from 16s into 3s, apparently, for whatever money that entailed).
He returns to what appears his premier distance of 1m4f and he will surely be hard to shift out of the frame here at the very least. Hopefully, the first-time cheekpieces help - the trainer is a fair 7 from 60 with this option since 2016 - and he didn't run badly here off a 17lb higher mark than this in June 2020.
I couldn't put you off an each-way angle, given my regard for Songo, but I will suggest a win-only bet at 6.05/1 or bigger on the Exchange.
My lowest acceptable price would be 4/1.
Better surface and longer trip to suit Hubert
Prices were shifting rapidly throughout Thursday, and I wasn't at all surprised when the general opening 10s about Valley Forge was quickly gobbled up early on Thursday afternoon in the 14:00, and swallowed hole.
I was expecting him to be nearer half that price, and he was a top-priced 7s within minutes, and as short as 5s in a place within an hour.
With that in mind, I was in a dilemma over what to do. The Sportsbook's price went from 10s to 7s to 11/2, and I am very price sensitive.
Winner of the ultra-competitive Melrose at York last season and a good third off a 1lb higher mark than this at this course afterwards, he looked to hate it at Newmarket on his return - his first start since being gelded - never looking on an even keel, even if he was perhaps disadvantaged by racing widest of the leading party.
He is not a given to see out the 2m here but I'd be disappointed if he wasn't able to mount a strong challenge off this mark with that run his belt.
Hopefully a return to a left-handed track will sort him out but, given you can argue he has a regressive profile since the York win, and his price has run away from me, I have to sidestep him at his current odds.
And then I fell upon the claims of Just Hubert in the race and he is my bet at 9/1 each way, four places, with the Betfair Sportsbook.
He caught the eye in no uncertain terms over an inadequate 1m4f at Ascot on his return, meeting trouble and running far better than his beaten distance suggests.
He was third in this race off this mark on unsuitably heavy ground last season and the better surface here is very much in his favour, as is obviously stepping up to 2m once again.
He obviously can be a moody sort - and I did consider him win-only as a result - but he won twice last season for this jockey and if he consents to put his best foot forward then I fancy him to at least hit the top four, with winning a very live option.
Mighty Ulysses could be tough to beat in what is a desperately poor turn-out of 10 for a 100k handicap at 14:35 but of course his price reflects that.
Ring Of Beara can be expected to be run a lot better than he did first time put at Sandown - you could name your price about him towards the off, as he drifted to a Betfair SP of 13.88 from half that - and I considered him at 28s, and Spirit Catcher at 9s, on the Sportsbook but I decided to sit tight here as well.
I could rue ignoring the former given his juicy price (and he is fairly treated on his 2021 form), and also the latter given he has a very solid each-way look to him, but they narrowly failed the bet test at Betfair's current odds.
Solid each-way angle, shame about the price
Nothing doing for me in the Sandy Lane at 15:10 and the only decision I had to make was whether to side with Came From The Dark in the Temple Stakes at 15:45.
We all know Winter Power just wins on her Nunthorpe form but all her best efforts have come at York and Came From The Dark, with track form figures of 17121, looks a very solid option for those looking for an each-way angle.
But his price has ebbed away during the week, and his price of around 5s is no more than fair now.
ITV are also showing the Irish 2000 Guineas at 15:20, but it is priced up exactly as you would expect it to be.
And I actually think the Native Trail-Buckaroo-Ivy League avenue is probably a very fair tricast bet, if that is your bag.