There's a cracking day of racing on ITV on Saturday, including the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, and our resident tipster Tony Calvin has a trio of bets to consider...
"I decided Wembley at 5.69/2 or bigger looks very fair and the best win bet in the race, if not exactly maximum-stakes unloading material."
"A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse".
No, not Shakespeare's Richard III - though the race named after him only got a four-runner field at Leicester last week - but the cry of every racecourse executive at the moment, with entries so thin on the prevailing quick ground.
However, at least we have a very healthy turn-out of 15 for the 2000 Guineas - the only notable absentee at 10am on Thursday morning was Dewhurst winner St Mark's Basilica - so we have a cracker in store.
The issue is whether there is a bet to be had.
Wembley looks the right favourite to me
I said in my ante-post piece on the race on Tuesday that I thought Wembley was the most likely winner, but that is telling you little that the market hasn't now got its' collective head around, not that he has shortened up dramatically. In fact, he has drifted a little since Tuesday afternoon.
Sure, he only has a Roscommon maiden victory to his name and four seconds either side of that win would find some harsher critics whispering "twicer" were he a run-of-the-mill handicapper, but there is no doubt whatsoever that he is a Group 1 colt.
And he probably should already be a Group 1 winner had fortune favoured him in the National Stakes and when second to his absent stablemate St Mark's Basilica in the Dewhurst here.
At the Curragh, he was travelling powerfully but still in last place approaching the final furlong, so his strong-finishing effort there that saw him grab second to Thunder Moon has to be marked up considerably.
A different day and a different ride may have brought a different result 50% of the time, perhaps.
And, considering he raced widest on the course in the Dewhurst - there was a track bias that was in evidence all day - then you have to say he was as near as damn it the moral winner there, instead of the ¾-length second, with Thunder Moon 1¾ lengths away in third.
The only son of super-sire Galileo in the line-up, and a horse who will be suited by his first start at 1m and highly likely not to be inconvenienced by the fast ground, he looks the right favourite to me. And the fact that the recent home vibes about him are very positive do not lessen the appeal.
But is he such a stand-out to be prices given he only has 1lb in more of this field on official ratings, other possess better speed figures, and you have some serious lurkers - well, one in particular - in here?
I'll have a quick run through the opposition and then make a call.
Plenty of dangers including my Derby bet Van Gogh
If I like Wembley, I can hardly argue with Thunder Moon's claims at a bit bigger price, while the main Godolphin pair of One Ruler and Master Of The Seas have every right to their relatively lofty place in the market, too.
In fact, Master Of The Seas was another to shape far better than his finishing position would suggest in the National Stakes (traded at 2s on when coming there swinging and he did it well in the Craven in a first-time hood) but I imagine there was a collective cry of "oh no, that could have been better" (I would have filed a swear word but it would only have been edited out) when he drew stall two, away to the far side of the track.
Given what has happened on the track this season, you'd definitely be leaning towards the middle-to-high stalls, even with the stalls in the centre, though they could fan out across the width of course as they did in Night Of Thunder's Guineas, and race in two or three separate pockets (there is potential pace on here from stalls 1,7,9,11 and 12).
The lurker mentioned above is Mutasaabeq and boy was he impressive when getting on the lead and making all in a four-runner race here over 7f here on his return in what was a good time.
Whether or not he can be so keen and repeat the feat going up to 1m in Group 1 company here is another matter altogether though - on the plus side, he seems to have drawn well enough in 12 - I have my doubts, and I certainly want more bang for my buck than his current odds of around 7/1 provide.
I have backed Van Gogh for the Derby at big prices, and I fear this may just happen a touch quickly for him over 1m on fast ground.
But he is a horse of whom I expect big things this season, albeit primarily over 1m2f and beyond, and I so nearly stuck him up each-way bet on him at 10/1, four places, with the Betfair Sportsbook.
He has been ridden forward before, when winning his 7f maiden, so I hope they will ride him more aggressively than they did when he was second to One Ruler in the Autumn Stakes here, a race in which he was dropped out last and didn't get a smooth run through when eating up ground in the final 2f.
He would have won that race on another day and he showed he was more stamina-laden than a miler when winning his Group 1 in deep ground in France afterwards.
I think he could well turn out to be the best of these come the end of the season but, like I said, the trip on the quickest ground he has encountered to date has to be a major concern, so it's a very reluctant pass. A strong-finishing fourth or so, with Epsom in mind (please not France), may have to suffice on this occasion.
I'd have loved to have found an outsider on which to take a wild swing - Ryan Moore in his Betfair column believes that horse could be Poetic Flare, though he has really shortened into 14s in the last 24 hours now, so he is hardly a wise-guy rag having been as big as 22s not long ago - but I decided Wembley at 5.69/2 or bigger looks very fair and the best win bet in the race, if not exactly maximum-stakes unloading material.
Legacy nearly chanced but trip a concern
ITV have also managed to sneak in a race from Thirsk and Goodwood into their coverage, but let's deal with Newmarket and the 10-runner 1m1f "My Oddsboost" on Betfair Suffolk Stakes handicap - I have no idea why I typed out the whole race title, honest guv - comes up first at 13:50.
The Mark Johnston pair of Maydanny and Overwrite, and maybe even Lincoln disappointment Graphite, should ensure a decent gallop here and I was initially drawn to Bell Rock before I saw the prices.
He goes well when fresh and I think he can kick on from a mark of 103 this season, but I was very surprised to see him put in as short as 10/3 favourite when the market first formed on Thursday morning, ahead of Bright Melody, so I couldn't go near him at the moment.
Rightly or wrongly, I was looking for 5/1, minimum.
So I was on the back foot looking for a bet.
Graphite's mark of 95 is a gift on his French form (he was dropped 5lb for that Doncaster run), but backing him here requires more faith than I could muster, even at 40/1+ on the exchange.
Dubai Legacy appealed most at 11/1 with the Sportsbook as Saeed bin Suroor's horses have hit the ground running on his belated return to these shores - he only had his first UK runner on April 22 - and his course winner is certainly fairly treated on a mark of 96.
Over a mile, I would have chanced him, as just gets about that trip, but an extra furlong here in a race likely to be well-run could well find him out stamina-wise.
Hoping I'm a good judge of Judicial in the sprint
The Betfair Palace House Stakes at 14:25 also has the look of a very trappy sprint because it, err, is....
The adjusted official ratings tell you as much - just 3lb separates six of the nine runners - but I must admit I would have probably had Judicial as my narrow favourite (ahead of a defensively-priced Lazulli) purely because of his first-time-out history in this race, so Julie Camacho (who had another winner at Musselburgh yesterday, and whose small string has been in fair form generally) will surely have him gunned for this.
He treads exactly the same path as last season, in that he took in the same Lingfield race in November before finishing a 3/4-length second in this contest, and he was also a narrow runner-up to Mabs Cross in 2018 (his seventh in 2019 was not as flash).
He was rated 111 after beating Major Jumbo easily at Chester in August, which would make him the clear top-rated in here, so that's another fair tick for the 11/2 chance. And Emaraaty Ana and Glamorous Anna should keep the pace honest.
As a 9yo, he is the old man of this party by at least three years, and the likes of Lazuli do have more upside, but Judicial looks a bet at 6.611/2 and bigger.
The Betfair Exchange Jockey Club Stakes at 15:00 has done well to attract five runners given there was only more entry on Monday.
Sir Ron Priestley and maybe Pablo Escobarr are the pace angles in here, and the former looks a likely lad after his return defeat of subsequent Sagaro Stakes second Ocean Wind at Nottingham, but you have to think Pyledriver is a decent price at around 5/2 if anywhere near straight enough.
He was a dual Group 2 over 1m4f last season and shaped like the best horse in the St Leger to my eye, and he deserves to be a touch shorter in the betting.
But given what is likely to be a tactical race and one also housing race-fit rivals and the progressive Al Zaraqaan, it is easy to watch and not to bet.
Lots of ticks for Tom at Thirsk
Thirsk's 16-runner Hunt Cup at 14:40 is also on the box and the striking aspect of this handicap is that I couldn't find any guaranteed pace - a few have gone forward in the past, but none consistently so - so the opportunity is there for one jockey to show some initiative (or be told what to do by the trainer or owner).
Maybe a change of stables could lead to a switch of tactics for Tom Collins. Hopefully, they at least try to get a handy position for him from his outside draw in 13 early doors.
I don't think I am being too controversial here by saying that it is a trainer uplift going to William Haggas from David Elsworth, and this 100,000gns purchase at the sales last autumn is undoubtedly an interesting runner.
He rounded off last term when winning narrowly in the soft at Pontefract in October and, while he has gone up 5lb for that win, the second did win by 4 ¾ lengths off a 4lb higher mark next time out and the third won two starts later, too.
So Haggas could have inherited a decently handicapped horse as it stands even without him waving his magic wand - and that Ponty win came in a good time, too - and one of his other better efforts for Elsworth came when he was just touched off in a four-way photo on fast ground at Doncaster. Mind you, they have had some rain at the course, so it may be good come Saturday.
Throw in the fact that Haggas has also gelded his new recruit, and he himself continues to operate at consistently high strike-rate (30% at the moment) - he also won this race in 2018, though I can't remember why it was run at Wetherby that year - and you have a bet, I feel.
He also has a very fair pedigree, being by Dubawi out the Group 2-winning Cocktail Queen.
He was as big as 9s in a place on Thursday afternoon, but I am happy to side with him here at 9.08/1 or bigger.
Six have rocked up for the 40k fillies' 1m Listed race at Goodwood at 14:05 and I think the market has this accurately covered.
All three bets are at the lower end of the price scale I like to play at, but I struggled to find worthwhile outsiders on Saturday given the nature of the races.
I will be joining the Twitter boycott from 3pm on Friday, but all my columns, current and future, can be found on betting.betfair, and the Racing Only Bettor and Weighed In Podcasts found in the usual place on Spotify etc.
Good luck all.
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