I tipped Savvy Victory at 10/1 win-only for the Cambridgeshire on Tuesday - you can read the full argument here - so there is no need to re-state the case in any great detail.
Basically, very little has changed since - though he was trimmed into 17/2 on Thursday evening - as he is still an industry-best 10/1 chance with the Betfair Sportsbook.
But, in short, he is a nicely handicapped horse (officially 2lb well-in after his Goodwood win last time), and one of the few in the race who could be described as progressive.
He has good course form (a Listed third on good to firm), and this test of 1m1f in a strongly-race in a big field will hopefully suit this smooth-travelling 3yo, and I like his draw in 13, too.
Now, this race has been dominated by high-drawn horses in recent times. The winners in the last seven years have come from the following stalls: 21, 25, 29. 21, 29, 28 and 27.
The pace this year is all middle to high, and I have the horses most likely to press forward coming out of berths 11, 14, 18, 19, 21 and 26, so I am very happy with Ryan Moore, on board the selection, being right smack in the centre of that heat haze in 13.
Connections want some rain, so fingers crossed we get some more, following some overnight on Thursday which turned the ground good from good (good to firm in places).
The William Haggas pair of Mujtaba and Protagonist are two of the others than can also be classed as progressive and both have obvious claims but I would be a touch worried by the latter's draw in three (Mujtaba is nicely housed in 16).
Headgear stat has drawn me in...
As regular readers will know, I love a headgear stat, so my eye was immediately drawn to the first-time hood on Night Of Luxury, as Saeed bin Suroor has approaching a 40 per cent strike-rate in recent years when applying this initially (the latest qualifier, 2yo Banddar, ran well enough in third at Kempton on Wednesday).
I really should tip him regardless, given that strike rate, and he does have a very progressive profile if you ignore his non-staying effort over 1m4f last time, having won his previous two starts over 1m2f on quick ground. He also has a soft ground win to his name, so the weather can do as it likes.
However, as I have said, the draw in five doesn't look great on paper at all, so I wavered, but the price is adequate compensation, so back him at 36.035/1 or bigger.
I do like his trainer in this race - he obviously won it last year with a 40s poke and provided the second and third in 2016 - and he has a strong hand with the selection, Brilliant Light, Electrical Storm and First View.
I could easily make a case for all four but I am going to stick with the headgear angle, and also have a small bet on the now-blinkered Lucander at 26.025/1 or bigger from stall 27. He's also 25/1 on the Sportsbook.
Like Savvy Victory, he could probably do with a drop more rain but he has been running well enough on fast ground of late (over 1m2f+), and you would have been over £60 in profit to level stakes if backing Ralph Beckett's horses in first-time blinkers in recent years.
I imagine he has been waiting for this valuable race in order to introduce them, and this is a horse who does like the challenge of a big field and a fast pace over this shorter trip.
Okay, he only finished 11th in this handicap last year but he finished second to runaway winner Majestic Dawn in it (off this mark) in 2020 and he also finished a good runner-up in an 18-runner York handicap last season.
I won't waste too much of your time with the 2yo Group races that open the card.
Flying Honours is a justified hotpot in the Royal Lodge at 13:50 after what he did to a good subsequent winner at Salisbury last time, but playing at 15/8, let alone his odds of 8/15, are not for me.
I just about preferred Meditate over Trillium as the top of the market in the Cheveley Park at 14:25, but if there was an overpriced one in the race it was probably Swingalong.
Perhaps the layers are reading too much into the Ayr defeat of Queen Me on Saturday - she beat that horse a neck in the Lowther - by offering her at around 7s on the exchange.
Remember, Barefoot Lady beat Queen Me at the weekend and a certain Swingalong had previously smashed up that winner by 6 lengths at Ripon.
But I don't have a strong betting opinion.
The Middle Park at 15:00 is a hot little race, but I wasn't surprised that the Sportsbook's early 5/1 on Thursday about Mischief Magic was snapped up, as he showed a real change of gear to win the Sirenia easily at Kempton last time and the runner-up actually was beaten only a neck by the aforementioned Barefoot Lady at Ayr on Saturday.
However, he is back on turf, taking on Group 1 and 2 winners, and he clearly has it to prove. And, more importantly, he is into just 4.3100/30 on the exchange.
I was actually considering taking leave of my senses and sticking up Newcastle nursery winner Never Just A Dream at what would be a three-figure price on the exchange, but common sense prevailed.
At the Curragh, I don't have any worthwhile thoughts on the Group 2 Beresford Stakes at 13:35, or in the Goffs Million at 15:20, a race in which one set of owners is set to get very lucky with a relatively modest horse.
That may be a touch harsh as regards the quality on show, but there is just the small matter of 611,000 euros to the winner. Baaeed won't cop much more for winning the Champion Stakes next month.
I do have a bet (two in fact) at Haydock though, a track where ITV are showing two races.
Young Fire can blaze a trail
However, I will leave the 5f handicap alone, though I am sure course favourite (and soft-ground loving) Count D'Orsay will be popular after his third in the Portland, a run that makes him 3lb well-in here.
I asked around on Twitter early on Thursday to see if the forecast rain had arrived on the track, and duly got a resounding yes.
However, I decided to wait until Friday morning before going up with the column as I wanted to see exactly how much rain had come by then, as I was going to be very sweet on Young Fire, who was available at 33/1 (four places) with the Sportsbook on Thursday, if they copped a load.
He handles good fine - as he showed when a close second at York in June off a 4lb higher mark than this - but he likes plenty of dig ideally.
In the end, they got 8mm and that is enough to keep me interested, even if little more is due.
Young Fire loves soft ground and Haydock, and indeed his form figures at the track are 7113145, and that good 2 ½ length fourth to Tacarib Bay in July came off a mark of 99.
He is now down to 94, and you can discard his last two runs at Newcastle as he is a much better horse on turf, though actually he ran okay on both occasion, especially when getting no run there last month.
He is 4lb lower than when only beating four home in a 18-runner handicap at York three starts ago, but that was not as bad as it sounds as he was never in the hunt there after a wide trip from stall 20, so I am happy to overlook that.
Back at Haydock, after the rain - it is now good to soft (good in places) he is a bet. Back him at 33/1 each way, four places, with the Betfair Sportsbook.
I was very surprised to see Wanees offered at 20s in a place for this race on Thursday - he was a general 14s - as a gelding operation since we last saw him could be the making of the 3yo.
He was described "as a bit soft" mentally after swooping to victory at Sandown on his return and then finished an excellent sixth in the Britannia, a race in which he was sent off at just 7/1.
He obviously blew out totally at Goodwood last time, after which he was gelded, but he looks a very big price at 14s with the Sportsbook, and on the exchange, if that op enables him to recapture either the Sandown or Ascot form.
He has won on quick and soft ground and, if he isn't being teed up for something a bit further down the line, then he is a major player here and well worth chancing at 15.014/1 or bigger, win-only, on the exchange.
However, he is also 14s with the Sportsbook, so you may be best off backing him there.
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