It's the final day of the July Festival at Newmarket and Tony Calvin is recommending three to back, along with his antepost pick, and previewing the action at Ascot...
"First up on ITV from Ascot is the 1m fillies’ handicap at 14:05. This race is actually easily addressed, as I haven’t got a clue."
I may as well start with the class action of Newmarket's Group 1 July Cup at 15:35 - or, more accurately, get it out of the way before getting stuck into the proper punting races.
I have no truck with the Commonwealth Cup winner Golden Horde being the clear favourite given that the 3yo has more scope for improvement than market rivals Sceptical and Hello Youmzain - and he will handle any ground he is presented with here - but odds of around 5/2 are nowhere near big enough to tempt me in.
None of the horses that follow that trio in the betting make much appeal at the prices either, nor do the outsiders - maybe Southern Hills at 33/1+ at a big push - so I will leave this race to the purists.
A bet to light up the 13:50
The ITV action at Newmarket kicks off with the 1m handicap at 13:50 and I am going to take a chance with Laser Show at [17.0] or bigger.
He has a very inconsistent profile - and he missed an intended engagement when a non-runner at Royal Ascot - but I thought he was worth chancing at the price.
He ran a couple of crackers at two, winning first time up at Sandown when beating a smart sort in Riot, and then he failed by only a length to give recent King George V Handicap winner Hukum 7lb over this trip at Kempton.
We had another glimpse of how good he can be when he won easily on dirt, in a first-time visor, at Meydan in January and hopefully new headgear can help him recapture that zest here.
Saeed bin Suroor actually won this race in 2014 with a first-time-visored Golden Town in 2014, and he puts cheek-pieces on the selection here. He is a healthy 13 from 57 with this angle since 2016.
It's a win-only bet, as the blow-out potential is considerable. Hopefully, a gelding operation may have helped him, too, though.
Appleby runner catches the eye
Fellow Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby has an even better record when applying a hood initially; indeed he has a wildly-impressive 33 per cent strike rate (16 from 48) since 2016.
Those stats alone make Spring Of Love of interest in the 14:25 especially as that headgear looked as if it wouldn't come amiss when she was a bit too keen on her reappearance at Haydock.
Her effort there was very disappointing but, looking at her action, she could well have been hating the fast ground, so easier conditions here could be much more to her liking.
Appleby was talking in terms of a Guineas trial after she won on good to soft on the Rowley course last season, from this year's Sandringham runner-up Waliyak, so a mark of 88 could well underestimate this half-sister to the 105-rated Duneflower.
Back her at [7.0] or bigger.
Sorry to sound like a stuck record, but you will almost always have to go elsewhere for tips in two-year-old races, and that is again the case in the Superlative Stakes at 15:00.
A race featuring 10 unexposed winners, none of which have raced more than twice, simply leaves me cold.
Ante-post has massive run in him
On Tuesday, I put up Raising Sand ante-post, 20/1, each way, five places, for the Bunbury Cup at 16:10.
In truth, I was a little disappointed that the track didn't get even more rain throughout the week, even though it turned soft during racing on Thursday - hopefully it gets another drenching or two before racing on Friday evening before a dry Saturday - as he really is in his element on soft ground.
I won't press up my bet here, as I am slightly concerned by his draw in 16 of 20 and we have already secured the best price anyway, but if underfoot conditions remain to his liking then he has a massive run in him despite his advancing years.
He ran a stormer on an unfavoured part of the track in what appears a very strong Hunt Cup on his return, and was dropped 1lb for it, so he is very fairly weighted off 107. Indeed, he didn't look far off his best last month on ground that wasn't ideal.
A saver for the Bunbury Cup
The market is predictably headed by the younger, sexier band of four-year-olds, but I was also toying with Tomfre ante-post earlier in the week, so I am going to advise a saver on him at [14.0] or bigger now he has made the race.
He really should have won at Sandown last time out, so I am not that fussed by a 4lb rise - they recorded a decent time figure there, too - and he is ground-versatile (having won on fast and soft ground) and he is two-from-two on the July course.
The only three-year-old in the line-up, with just nine runs under his belt, his jockey Harry Bentley has options from his midfield draw in nine and the youngster gets a very handy 8lb age allowance from all of his rivals here.
A price of around 12/1+ on the exchange underplays his claims.
Marie's Diamond a potential bet at Ascot
I may as well take the four ITV races at Ascot in chronological order, and first up is the 1m fillies' handicap at 14:05.
This race is actually easily addressed, as I haven't got a clue.
You suspect that Sir Michael Stoute's Melnikova is fairly treated on a mark of 83 on her two juvenile runs, and all her siblings have proved better than that rating, but I could make a case for most of these, so I will pass.
A disappointing field of five (it will probably be four as Eastern Sheriff ran at Newmarket on Friday) for the 1m4f handicap at 14:40 dictates against a bet here too, though it has to be said again that bin Suroor does have an decent record with a first-time visor, which makes Dubai Souq of some interest.
But you can just as easily fancy the up-in-trip Carlos Felix (a half-brother to a good 1m6f performer) , so I am not getting involved.
If I was willing to take a swing at Bless Him at 40/1 in a Queen Anne featuring Circus Maximus and Terebellum, then I initially felt I had to do the same at half the price in the weaker Group 2 Summer Mile at 15:15.
He didn't run at Royal Ascot and he could well be taken out again due to the ground again here as connections are convinced he wants it good as a minimum, and preferably as fast as clerks of courses will allow it these days.
To be fair, his record does suggest as much, but they have to get him out sooner or later, and Ascot is the place to chance him. And Friday and Saturday look to be warm, drying days, so it could actually end up on the quick side at Ascot by Saturday afternoon (though there could be some light showers doing the rounds on Friday afternoon, apparently).
Marie's Diamond should set the strong pace he needs to aim at, and his odds of around 20/1 look a touch insulting judged on his easy defeat of the wildly progressive Lord North - and he was giving the second 4lb, too - here last September.
But all Marie's Diamond's Ascot form has come on the straight track, and the round course of the Summer Mile may not suit his waiting, racing style. And the ground is clearly a concern of sorts at this stage, so he is another reluctant pass here.
In truth though, I will probably chuck a score each-way at him near the off tomorrow if the ground is riding quick.
A 20-runner 5f handicap at 15:50 is an easy way to round off the terrestrial action at Ascot, isn't it? It is 10/1 the field, if you shop around, after all.
Arecibo and Aplomb would be my two against the field, but they are both market leaders, and I simply found this race ridiculously competitive.
I am not forcing a tip or a bet for the sake of it, so unfortunately I drew a punting blank at Ascot.
Good luck if you didn't!
Laser Show at [17.0] or bigger in 13:50 at Newmarket
Spring Of Love at [7.0] or bigger in 14:25 at Newmarket
Tomfre at [14.0] or bigger in 16:10 at Newmarket
ALREADY ADVISED ANTE-POST
Raising Sand at 20/1 each way, five places, with Betfair Sportsbook in 16:10 at Newmarket