Live In The Dream is in the form of his life
Yacowlef is a fair 8.07/1 shot at Goodwood
Back Proud and Regal in winnable Curragh classic
There is no need to post my usual detailed weather update, as you can all look out of your windows or inspect your reddening complexions as the summer is finally beginning to show its hand.
Suffice to say, all four tracks featuring on ITV's 10-race Saturday broadcast would basically be taking place on borderline firm ground had nature been left alone to dictate affairs. Now it is just a case of how jiggy the clerks have got with the watering (and it would be naïve to think one or two didn't give it an extra, off-the-record 2mm or so for luck) as regards how they ride.
However, it makes sense to proceed on the basis on ground very much on the quick side of good everywhere.
Ante-post selections like it quick
That is welcome news for my two 20/121.00 ante-post selections at Haydock, Themaxwecan and Killybegs Warrior - though one time-based expert only had it as good there on Thursday - and this warm glow was enhanced when they were confirmed on Thursday in races that have cut up badly.
Anyway, I will kick on at Haydock in chronological order.
The opening 0-75 1m4f at 13:15 wasn't priced up ante-post but the numbers have come down from 15 to seven at the overnight stage, and one of the eight no-shows was Candy Shack, who I had half an eye on for this.
In her absence, In The Breeze interested me most and he may have been a bet were it not the fact that Mick Appleby hasn't had a winner since mid-April.
I appreciate a few have been running well in defeat, and his form/luck surely has to turn soon - as Roger and Harry Charlton's did after a barren spell at Sandown on Thursday night - but they have been largely running poorly as a collective since March now.
In The Breeze could well be the one to get a winner on the board as he ran well over 1m2f last time, and 1m4f on decent ground is more his cup of tea. He has slipped down to a very winnable mark of 74, some 6lb lower than a good second at Newmarket last summer under these conditions.
But that trainer form is a worry, alright. His two runners on Thursday both ran well below market expectations.
I am always curious of after-timing claims made about people who have correctly forecasted events in print beforehand, so here goes.
I am not in the slightest bit surprised that the 50k 2m handicap at 13:50 has cut up from 18 at the five-day stage to just seven, as a whole host of the original entries were double-entered - 10 of the 18, in fact - and the 2/13.00 ante-post favourite Fennor Cross was unproven on anything quicker than good.
The field dwindling was the primary reason for putting up Themaxwecan win-only at 20/121.00 on Tuesday and, while I am fearful of one of his six rivals in particular, the form case for him very much stands.
I won't be going in again here at his obviously reduced price and with no each-way angle, and he is clearly an in-and-out performer. But he has his favoured quick ground and he is only 1lb higher than when winning on good to form at the Shergar Cup meeting at Ascot in August, as he races off just 93 here.
He hasn't cut much ice in two starts here but they actually came off marks of 102 and 94 (you could argue his fifth off 102 wasn't that far off one of his better career efforts). I expect him to put a poor return run at Musselburgh on good to soft behind him.
As much as you have to fear the claims of the progressive winners Carzola and Mountain Road, and Firstman has to be better than he showed last time (he was very weak in the betting near the off), I am very worried about Law Of The Sea, as I also flagged up his chances on Tuesday (real scurrilous after-timing this).
He went off at 40/141.00 in the Chester Cup, despite the handicapper having dropped him a generous 8lb for just two throwaway runs in Dubai, but he may have gone very close for winning if getting the breaks at Chester. His jockey basically couldn't ride him in the final throes of the race, and had little luck before then, too.
This is a horse who was rated 102 after his four-length fifth in the 2021 Queen's Vase on quick ground, and he can race off just 91 here with that Chester run under his belt.
He wouldn't have a rock-solid profile but it is an attractive one here nonetheless given that mark, and there is little pace in this race - Solent Gateway is a prominent racer but he doesn't force it - so I wonder if they will go forward on him.
He went from the front in the Queen's Vase, and a reproduction of those tactics could bear fruit here. However, I bottled out of tipping a relative shortie last week that won and I am, probably stupidly, doing the same here. I suspect he could go off favourite so if you can get any lingering 3s he is a very fair bet but I'll stop short of tipping him.
In the 1m handicap at 14:25, I put up Killybegs Warrior at 20/121.00 on Tuesday but I must admit I have cooled on him as this front-runner won't be getting an easy lead here.
Even though the field has disappointingly shrunk from 24 to 11 at the overnight stage for a 51k-to-the-winner pot, I counted nine prominent racers, and at least five who like to get on the front end.
The race set-up could suit Defence Of Fort, a closer who has won on fast ground and looks fairly handicapped off 88 on his debut win and Solario fourth, and favourite Covey is clearly the dark lurker. But hopefully Killybegs Warrior will give us a good spin.
He clearly massively outperformed expectations in the Dante last week as a 100/1101.00 chance and dropped back to a mile will definitely suit him.
He went up 2lb for that Dante sixth over an extended 1m2f to a mark of 102, which seems fair and he also had a sighter of the track when narrowly beaten under a penalty here last July.
And that York run wasn't a one-off as he had earlier posted a good third in the Feilden Stakes so this improver could well get to back winning ways when dropped in trip. The extended 1m2f at York clearly stretched the stamina elastic too far.
However, the pace map of the race really worries me, so I won't be pressing up at his reduced odds.
I better stop the waffle and start tipping some fresh horses, or this is going to be War And Peace Mark II with no end product.
No bet in the next at Haydock though, as most of the big guns have turned up for the Sandy Lane at 15:00, and it doesn't necessarily translate that 7/4 jolly Little Big Bear will win if he returns to his brilliant juvenile best after his Guineas no-show, as Cold Case, Bradsell and Matilda Picotte etc give this race a very strong Group 2 vibe.
There was a big difference of opinion in the ante-post betting for the Temple Stakes at 15:30, with most bookmakers going 11/8 and 6/4 about The Platinum Queen , but one initially stuck their necks out, going 4/1 (and then they held firm at 3s thereafter).
I didn't originally have a betting opinion in a race in which only one of the 15 has defected from the five-day stage. With that in mind, the firm offering the initial 4s called it right, as last year's Abbaye winner, carrying a 5lb penalty, is already 5.59/2 on the Betfair Exchange.
However, the more I looked the more I liked Live In The Dream as there isn't a lot of pace in this Group 2 sprint - in fact The Platinum Queen, a 1,200,000gns purchase at the Tatts mares sale in November and sent to Roger Varian, in seven is the only significant other pace angle - and I am going to suggest backing him at 9.08/1 or bigger. He is also 8/19.00 with the Sportsbook.
He is primed to try to make all from his draw on the stands' rail in trap 14 of 14, and he comes here in the form of his life, the front-runner only getting picked up close home by the slop monster Vadream in the Palace House Stakes last time.
He is just the latest sprinter on the block to improve enormously in the past 12 months or so - last April he was fourth off 84 at Thirsk - and his rating is now 109 and going one way in his 4yo career. And hopefully his progression graph keeps on climbing after this race.
I have nothing interesting to say about Goodwood's 1m2f Listed race at 13:30 but I am backing Yacowlef at 7.06/1 or bigger in the 7f handicap at 14:05.
Annoyingly the 7/18.00 with the Sportsbook disappeared just before this column went live, but 6/17.00 or more on the exchange is acceptable (there is still some 7/18.00 in the marketplace). I'll settle at Betfair SP anyway.
There is plenty of pace on here which should suit him - he has been ridden more conservatively this season - and, although he can be a tricky ride and he hung last time, I think his current price is fair.
Tom Marquand replaces Ryan Moore, but he knows the horse very well, having ridden him in four of his seven starts, so that is no bad thing given he can be awkward by all accounts.
Make no mistake, the handicapper upped him as much as he could have done for a half-length win at Newmarket last time (6lb), but the runner-up ran well in defeat when heavily punted last weekend and they pulled well clear of the third.
The 12 ½-length sixth is the only other horse to have run since, and he did very well to be beaten just two lengths in a good handicap last week.
That Newmarket victory came on soft ground but Yacowlef seems to handle good/good to firm ground, he has finished third (of 18) and first in two starts at this track, and this is just his eighth outing.
Be at your strongest Tom, I don't want him hanging his chance away.
Normally horses are under-priced when they return after a luckless run but that initially wasn't the case with Sound Of Iona in York's 5f handicap at 14:40.
She showed nothing in her opening two starts this season over 1m and 6f (not beating one of her 31 rivals, and apparently she was "as fat as a pig" first time up, so she will have taken an age to get fit). But Paul Mulrennan suffered about three nightmares in the space of 30 seconds on her at Musselburgh last time, getting no run in the second half of the race, no matter how hard he tried.
I appreciate this is a 5f handicap and others have far more obvious claims, none more than Korker, but I was amazed that she was put in at 40/141.00 and 33/134.00 early doors on Thursday afternoon (the Sportsbook rightly ducked her at 22/123.00).
There is a bundle of pace on here across the track so the fact that she stays 7f is a positive - though seven of her eight wins have come over 5f - Amie Waugh has won twice on her and she was going close off higher marks than this last summer. And she has run well on her two starts at York.
My intention is to give these hugely competitive sprint lotteries a swerve when I can though, and this 0-105 could just be too hot for her. So I will again stop short of a tip, as maybe they are getting her lined up for a 0-75 down the line after being dropped another 3lb to a mark of 77.
However, I couldn't put you off having a few quid on her though. I suspect you will get 34.033/1 and bigger on the Betfair Exchange on the day.
The 1m6f Listed fillies' race at 15:15 looks Mimikyu's to lose, as she has 10lb in hand of her rivals, even with her 5lb penalty.
If she runs to the form of her Park Hill win then she really ought to oblige, but she did wear a first-time hood that day and disappointed afterwards - it was in Group 1 company but she was too keen again there, so the headgear didn't work the second time - and I do sense an upset here as she makes her comeback.
If I can lay her at evens on Saturday, and have the field running for me, I probably will.
Who wins if she doesn't, I am not sure (the rest are all much of a muchness), but I had a few quid each way on Typewriter at 50/1 and 40/1 on Thursday afternoon, as she ran a very solid race when fourth in a York handicap recently - some 33/134.00 is still lingering - but unfortunately the Betfair Sportsbook are just 22/123.00, so no dice.
Moon Daisy is another decent each way alternative at [16/] and bigger after her fourth in the Group 3 Saval Beg at Leopardstown last week.
The Irish 2,000 Guineas is also on ITV at the Curragh at 15:40 and, like Mimikyu, I expect Royal Scotsman may well win if he settles better than he did when third at Newmarket.
He has the ideal horseman to help anchor and settle him better in Jamie Spencer, but if he is as keen as he was last time then of course he is highly vulnerable.
And I am judging his winning chance here on his excellent juvenile form, and not the Newmarket run. I don't think the Guineas form is all that, with Hi Royal and Galeron, second and fourth, going into the race rated a mere 91 and 97 respectively. It has an inflated worth.
I am drawn to Proud And Regal as he is a Group 1 winner, he has a good course record (he won his maiden here and finished second to Al Riffa in the National Stakes) and he should appreciate the step back in trip after 1m2f looked to stretch him when third in the Derby Trial at Leopardstown last time.
Back him at 13/27.50 each-way with the Sportsbook. This is a very winnable Classic.
Good luck this weekend.
Watch this week's Racing...Only Bettor