Haydock the focus for Saturday
Finally summer appears to have arrived with a glorious week of sunshine and quick ground (in most parts), so we've got to be working on good to firm for Saturday despite rain forecast for Haydock tomorrow.
No such problems on the Westwood at Beverley for their big meeting of the year with the 14:05 Hilary Needler and the 15:15 2yo Trophy.
Eight ITV4 races in total for the weekend, but we should be able to glean something from any draw or track bias for Haydock for their Friday night card.
Rather annoyingly, Makanah, one of my each-way selections earlier this week in the ante-post tipping column hasn't made it for the opening Haydock 13:15 5f Achilles Stakes.
Perhaps connections were banking on some rain on Saturday, so we've got a fresh slate but no change in terms of the favourite still heading the market with Equilateral and Frankie Dettori.
Ten are still in the race so there's the each-way option of three places, and the 16/117.00 into 11/112.00 on Mondammej was the most striking move at the time of writing on Friday morning.
Mondammej is a quirky so-and-so, but he likes Haydock and was fourth in the Temple Stakes last term on good ground.
The only 3yo in the race is Prince Of Pillo, owned by the excellent Middleham Park team. He was a super smart juvenile last term impressing early, and produced a fine effort to win the Harry Rosebery Stakes at Ayr in smooth travelling style and a 3L win.
He also finished third in the Group 3 Cornwallis on his final run of the season, and while it wasn't the strongest edition of that race, it capped a very good juvenile campaign earning a rating of 105.
Prince Of Pillo is the most interesting, but it's a worry he hasn't been out this season at all, and taking on some hardened speedsters means I am shying away from a bet. He does hold an entry in the Commonwealth Cup.
In short, the race is a bit of a minefield, as Equilateral is fast but at 5/2, no thanks. Last year's winner Raasel hasn't totally fired in Group action this term in his two runs.
Elsewhere on the Haydock card, and excuse the rather scattergun time order here, the 13:50 Sky Bet Reverence Handicap 6f looks good for an each-way play with 14 runners.
Raatea for Julie Camacho had been cut from 12/113.00 to 10/111.00 on Friday morning, although I will be watching David O'Meara's Nomadic Empire, and seeing how he fares in the betting as O'Meara has won this race twice in recent seasons.
Nomadic Empire spent the winter out in Bahrain, without any joy, and he hasn't fired in his two runs this year. One of those was in better company at Ripon in 0-105, and he is down in class here.
His mark is attractive too from 89 considering he was placed at York in 2021 from 102. His best runs have been mostly on good or firmer and 6f suits him better than 5f these days as he does stay on well.
It's also nice to see Reverence remembered in the race title, Eric Alston's marvellous sprinter.
I'm pleased to say that Tuesday's ante-post pick of Live Your Dream at 14/115.00 is in the line up for the Haydock 14:25 1m4f Handicap and his trainer Saeed bin Suroor has two of the 10 in the field at decent prices.
Live Your Dream is now 9/19.80 so we've got to be happy with that position.
The thinking remains the same with the 6yo, who looked such a good stayer winning at Newmarket in 2021 over 1m6f, that I need to keep him onside. The layoff of over 600 days is compensated by the price.
He looked a real tool winning by 6L at Wolverhampton prior to the HQ win, and he could be better over this middle-distance trip on quick ground despite the trainer handing him three assignments over 2m2f.
A good time and sectionals were recorded at Newmarket and Bin Suroor is 1-4 at Haydock with his older horses over 1m4f and at least he is in form - unlike Charlie Appleby - his Godolphin counterpart. A first.
The selection also rates as a possible trade for a nice to back-to-lay, as a couple of his defeats including one over 2m2f saw him hit 1.341/3 in-running. He might have been a potential Melbourne Cup horse before his lay-off, and he does remind me of the trainer's Willing Foe - who won an Ebor in 2012.
The other blue runner is Global Heat 14/115.00 and the cheekpieces are returning, which is always an interesting angle for the yard.
However, I think I am on the right one, as Global Heat is awkward and may not want the ground too fast. He could make the running and be a nice "hare" for the selection.
There are two Group races to look forward to at Haydock starting with the 15:00 Sky Bet Lester Piggott Stakes 1m4f (formerly the Pinnacle) and Time Lock was the 5/23.50 favourite when prices went up for the race market on Thursday.
Time Lock is trained by Roger and Harry Charlton, and at least his numbers are better now with four winners from their last 12 runners and one of those included a horse who had no chance on paper at Wetherby earlier this week.
Previously Charlton was on a cold list for a long time, so cold, both Charltons - Heston and Athletic - were in better form.
Time Lock is a super smooth traveller but has finished second on three occasions from her last three starts and hit 1.061/18 last time at Goodwood, 1.061/18 at York and 1.271/4 previously.
She should have won at Goodwood, and has the pedigree and run style to win Group races, but I cannot be backing a runner with three seconds all at short prices in-play with defeats.
I highlighted the case for Modaara on Tuesday in the ante-post preview and not a lot has changed with her price at 11/43.70, and it comes down to price as always and she's a little too short. I made her a no bet ante-post and not a lot has changed.
A lot of the Roger Varian horses have sexy profiles, and the price tends to reflect that.
She was a 13L winner at Kempton with an efficient time on the clock. She also holds entries in the Hardwicke and Irish St Leger.
Nachtrose 11/26.40 is the German contender, and so often can be overpriced and completely written off. She looks a galloper and won a Group 2 at San Siro last season and has a superb staying pedigree.
Her win was in the Italian Oaks, and what that form is worth is anyone's guess. Maybe the football equivalent would be goals in the Eredivisie? Every three is worth one elsewhere.
However, there's a possibility she could drift to 7s. In battle with Time Lock, she could have more stamina, but so could Modaara and those two could be the stamina horses. Nachtrose also has a terrific pedigree.
The Astrologist at 15/82.84 is the Australian representative and needs to put right a wrong from the Duke Of York sprint last time at the Dante meeting.
Betfair Ambassador Ryan Moore rides again so do check out his column with his take on that defeat and chances for Saturday.
I wouldn't be in a mad rush to take him on or lay him, although Jumby might get the race to suit as he wants fast ground and a pace to run at. There's an argument that he could be stronger over 7f than the Aussie, although The Astrologist has won over 7f back home and finished second at Flemington on soft ground.
Boardman is one of my personal favourites, and I usually back him wherever he runs. He finally got his win for the season at Chester last time after a string of frustrating efforts (for me anyway).
If this race goes to Australia, they can at least experience some joy of winning this summer, as they won't in the Ashes against Bazball.
The 5f Hilary Needler Trophy Fillies' Conditions Stakes starts the ball rolling on ITV at Beverley and I'd be fairly sure regular Saturday tipster Tony Calvin would swerve a 2yo race with any amount of improvers in the field.
Ziggy's Phoenix 4/14.80 is the one with most experience and is sharp despite having Enzeli and Estimate in her pedigree.
She has wins at Ripon and Chester (the Lily Agnes) this term, but both have been on soft ground so it's a complete guess with the quicker conditions.
But Middleham, who own the filly, target and place their horses ever so well and are a tremendous operation. Plus they support Manchester City, and as a West Ham fan, for me it's nice to have a fellow European trophy ally.
The 14:40 at Beverley is more a Monday handicap than a Saturday, and with the bottom weight rated 68, must be a contender for the lowest-rated runner on the box ever. I can easily swerve that race.
Likewise the 5f bet365 Two Year Old Trophy Conditions Stakes with only seven runners - and hardly each-way material.
As usual for these 2yo races, Amo Racing could hold the key with Fusterlandia, who finished second at Leicester over 6f on debut in a fair race for the track. He joined the 1.011/100 club in that race and was worn down.
The drop down to 5f looks a good move judged on that, but he's not a bet at 3s.
Good luck punting for the weekend.