Well, I have had better punting mornings than I did on Thursday watching the weekend decs seep through.
I had already had bad news a day earlier when Tariyana was scratched from the Sun Chariot on Wednesday - as someone said to me, Verry Elleegant's trainer Francis-Henri Graffard must have had the right hump that day - and then La Parisenne was balloted out of the Arc to scupper my decent ante-post position on her (I got my money back there at least, and make sure you do).
And then Ancestral Land doesn't even get entered for Redcar's Two Year Old Trophy.
So hopefully you are fresh to this weekend tipping party, which has gone down like a lead balloon so far.
The only one of three ante-post bets from Tuesday that is still live is Safe Voyage in the 18-runner 7f handicap at Ascot at 15:36. I advised him at 12/1 and am very happy with that, but it is probably best to hold a watching brief with him as regards the weather at his current odds.
Ascot is due up to 11mm throughout Friday (maybe more, maybe less) and he will relish every last drop of that as a mudlover. The ground at Ascot is currently good.
We will come back to him in a moment, as I am going to take the racing from here in chronological order.
Ed Walker sprinter will relish further rain at Ascot
It is a bit silly having 3yo+ 5f Listed and 6f Group 3 sprints on the same card, but they have attracted 12 and 14 runners respectively, so what do I know?
The first thing to say about the 5f race at 13:51 is that there is no guaranteed pace-setter. A few have been ridden prominently but we have no habitual blaster - I suppose Ebro River is the most likely leader - so the opportunity is there for one jockey to get creative.
Who that will be is anyone's guess but I want a high-drawn horse in here who acts in softish conditions, and Acklam Express and Came From The Dark are the pair that interested most on that score.
Acklam Express hasn't been in peak form of late and all his best form has come on good or quicker ground, most obviously his 200/1 third to Nature Strip in the King's Stand here in June, but he is 2 from 3 on good to soft or worse, so he is versatile.
His Group 1 form here and at Meydan last year mark him out as probably the best horse in here when on his A-game and the first-time visor (Nigel Tinkler is 7 from 57 with this option since 2009) could perk him up after it didn't like all was well in the world with him at Beverley last time, when looking awkward in the run and sweating up badly.
But that run last time worried me a bit too much.
You could argue that Came From The Dark is a much riskier proposition after beating just two horses home in his brace of starts this season, but it sounds as if Ed Walker is confident he has got him back on track after a recent wind op.
In his Weekender column on Wednesday, he reported that his recent work has been "excellent" and that he seems back to the horse of old, having become nervous and timid when struggling to breathe.
He was only touched off by a neck in a 17-runner handicap on his only previous start here, will love any rain - he much prefers dig, though he has good form on quick ground too - and he has a decent record off a break.
The opening 20/1 with the Betfair Sportsbook was obviously far too big and was taken, and he will need luck from 12, but I am willing to back him to small stakes, win-only at the revised price of 14/1. However, he was then cut to 11s on Thursday afternoon, and I have to advise no bet on the race now.
Back former winner Glen to regain crown
I initially didn't like the look of the Cumberland Lodge at 14:25, but the each-way claims of Euchen Glen really grew on me.
Obviously Hamish (even with the 3lb penalty) and Coronation Cup third High Definition have outstanding form claims but it is worth remembering Euchen Glen was rated 116 last year - the market leaders are both on marks of 117 - and he has had a rather luckless campaign, meeting a lot of trouble in the Ebor, as well as at Haydock and Goodwood either side of that run, before bumping into one in the shape of Royal Champion over an inadequate 1m2f at Ayr last time.
He actually made all in this race in 2020 when it was held at York (no idea why it was run there), and interestingly he made all in that four-runner race. There seems to be an opportunity for him to go forward here too, though High Definition may have something to say about that.
He is ground-versatile and is also a course winner. I fancy him to hit the frame and hopefully more. Back him at 20/1 each-way with the Betfair Sportsbook. 14/1 or more is fine.
Voyage still my Safe bet but River Nymph looks a solid alternative
I don't have a massive opinion in what looks a very trappy 6f Group 3 at 15:00, but Princess Shabnam could be a touch overpriced at a predicted 20/1+ on the exchange.
She has gone through the ranks from 85 to 107 this season and, while getting on the front end at Pontefract is always a big advantage, she did beat a certain Gale Force Maya convincingly there and has a progressive, ground-versatile profile.
I obviously still like Safe Voyage in the 15:36 as he was unlucky at Leopardstown last time, and he remains well treated off a 3lb higher mark here.
He has shortened a fair bit in the betting now though (the Sportsbook are now 6s, having been 12s on Tuesday), and I'd be inclined to hold off if you fancy him as I can see him drifting back out, especially if they get less rain than is expected. That said, he has won a Group 2 on good ground.
Either way, I feel no need to press up at this stage.
If you want an alternative then River Nymph at 10/1 (the Sportsbook are paying five places) is the way to go.
He is off the same mark as when beaten a neck and a short head when third to Fresh in a bunch finish over course and distance last time, he has a great record here, with two wins and another two good efforts in defeat in competitive handicaps such as this, and he can handle any rain the skies throw at him.
He just looks very solid at 10/1 each way, five places.
Cracking Sun Chariot but no bets at Newmarket
Over to Newmarket, and the opening fillies 1m2f handicap at 13:31 is full of progressive fillies.
Nothing betworthy caught my eye with the possible exception of White Willow, who looks solid if not spectacular, as she has been raised only 3lb for a win and two good placed efforts either side, and she is fair at 14s.
But I am not inclined to force a bet given the range of opposition.
That comment certainly applies to the following 29-runner sales race at 14:06, though Safari Dream at 10/1+ would be the selection if forced, as he is one of highest-rated in here after his win at Windsor last time.
I thought the Sun Chariot at 14:42 may cut up but all the big guns bar Tenebrism have rocked up, and it looks a cracker with Saffron Beach and Homeless Songs rightly dominating the market, though they are opposed by the Falmouth Stakes winner Prosperous Voyage and Laurel, the latter rated just 98 but clearly unexposed and highly promising after just the two wins in novice company.
A cracker it may be, but there didn't look to be a bet.
Crown a big price to be King of Redcar juveniles
I had no issue with all of the obvious ones at the top of the market in Redcar's Two-Year-Old Trophy at 15:21, but I did with a dismissive price about one of the outsiders.
Back King's Crown at 40/1 each-way, four places, with the Sportsbook.
Now, he clearly has a lot to find with the form horses but he was too free for his own good when last of 7 at York last time, having previously shaped well on the outside when seventh of 19 in another of these valuable sales race at the same track.
He was highly tried after his Thirsk maiden win, taking in the Group 2 Coventry and the July Stakes (beaten just 9 and 6 lengths respectively) and, with a lot of rain due, he did run well enough on soft when second on his debut.
Given that run last time, the first-time cheekpieces could be a good angle here, especially as Adrian Nicholls is 3 from 12 with this option since 2018, and that stacks up well against his 10% strike rate with all runners in the same period.