The Flat season has really started to change up a gear in recent weeks and it continues this weekend with the Lockinge Stakes taking centre stage at Newbury (15:20).
The William Haggas-trained Baaeed returns to action as one of the superstars of European Flat racing. In just 17 weeks, he went from making a winning debut at odds of 6/1 in a maiden at Leicester to taking the crown of European Champion Miler from the reigning champion Palace Pier in a thrilling renewal of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.
The sheer speed of his rise was quite something to behold and it is perfectly reasonable to expect him to prove very difficult to beat this season.
Turf the key for Godolphin raider
However, from a betting perspective, he is a prohibitively short price for the Lockinge.
It goes without saying that he is likely to win, but a lack of obvious pace on paper and the likelihood that he is unlikely to be fully wound up for this return to action makes it appealing to take a chance on one against him.
The one that jumps off the page to me is the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained Real World.
To sum him up, he loves racing on the turf and is unbeaten in five starts on it. Most notably, he narrowly got the better of the soft-ground-loving Group 1 winner The Revenant on soft ground in the Prix Daniel Wildenstein at Longchamp last October despite not being in love with the ground himself.
He appeals as being a Group 1 performer on turf, but what has blotted his copybook is that his connections have tried to turn him into a dirt horse on multiple occasions with limited results.
Thus, forget his last two runs on dirt. Getting him back on turf is the key and he is likely to be prominently placed or perhaps making his own running in a race that seemingly has little pace in it. In short, he could well outrun his price and be the one to make Baaeed work the hardest.
Very Bright chance of following up
Over at Newmarket, the Birketts LLP Handicap (15:00) is of interest and the one I like in it is the Andrew Balding-trained Shine So Bright.
The six-year-old has been a fine horse for his connections, most memorably getting the better of the mighty Laurens in a pulsating finish to the City of York Stakes at York back in 2019.
He hasn't managed to scale the same heights since and has slipped down the ratings as a result, but he showed that there is still plenty of fire in his belly when capitalising on a career-low mark to make a winning return to action in a valuable handicap over this course-and-distance last month.
What made that performance all the more noteworthy was that the race didn't exactly pan out ideally for him. A free-goer that was wearing a hood for the first time, the initial cover that he found was lost after just a couple of furlongs and he ended up seeing a lot of daylight.
For him to be able to finish off his race so well despite this suggests that a 4lb higher mark will not be beyond him in this contest.
Everything about the race should suit and there promising to be a solid pace in front of him, his rider should be able to keep cover for longer and strike later. He looks to have a great chance of following up.