Royal Ascot is in the rear-view mirror, but the juggernaut that is the Flat season rolls forward into another top-class weekend of action.
The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby meeting at the Curragh will be the focus of the racing world in the coming days, but the Northumberland Plate card at Newcastle represents another focus point of note on the other side of the Irish Sea. Hopefully I can pinpoint a winner or two in amongst all the great action.
Horn can Blow rivals away at Newcastle
The Northumberland Vase Handicap (14:55) may only be a consolation race for the main event at Newcastle, but it represents a fascinating betting race in its own right and the one that I like for it is the Charlie Fellowes-trained Blow Your Horn.
The son of Golden Horn has taken time to mature, but he has really started to roll since being stepped up in trip this season, winning at Newcastle and at Chelmsford. The latter success was particularly notable, as it was a messy race that didn't necessarily pan out in his favour, but he still found a way to win quite cosily.
While many are likely to be put off by Blow Your Horn's latest effort at Chester, it is a run that can readily be forgiven.
He didn't look at ease around the tight track or on the rain-softened ground, so it is worth taking a chance that he can bounce back from that. This longer trip looks likely to suit, as will the return to this surface that he has won on before. This type of race should suit him well and it wouldn't at all surprise to see him run a big race.
O'Brien outsider can outrun his odds in Irish Derby
The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (15:45) has attracted a very competitive field and it is great for the race that three contenders from Great Britain are coming over to compete.
The Irish Derby is a race that I like to fish around for a bit of value amongst the outsiders and the one that catches my eye the most this year is the Aidan O'Brien-trained Arturo Toscanini. While he may be one of the outsiders of O'Brien's five runners, that hasn't been a barrier to such horses winning at the highest level and this colt has an interesting case to be made for him.
Arturo Toscanini beat a few smart rivals when making a winning debut at the Curragh last season and while he ran poorly on his seasonal return in the Feilden Stakes at Newmarket, it is his last two runs that make him interesting.
The first of those came in the Gallinule Stakes at the Curragh, with him finishing 1¾ lengths second to Earlswood. He shaped better than the bare result on that occasion, as got caught flatfooted when the pace increased over the mile-and-a-quarter trip and was doing all his best work inside the final furlong.
Duly stepped up in trip for the Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot last week, he again shaped better than the result.
Dropped in from a wide draw, he ended up in a poor position towards the rear on the outer in a race that was run at a steady pace. Obliged to make his challenge very wide into the straight, he was beginning to go through the gears when checked just inside the two-furlong pole. He picked up again late, but the race was over and Wayne Lordan didn't ask him for everything.
Arturo Toscanini is clearly a strong stayer that wants a truer test of stamina than he got in either of his last two runs. While it isn't guaranteed, the Irish Derby tends to be run at an end-to-end gallop and that would very much play to his strengths.
It wouldn't be at all surprising if he outran his big odds and got involved in the finish.