It's the start of Glorious Goodwood today, dear reader and - coupled with Goliath Galway - it makes for a truly stupendous week of Summer punting!
Let's start with Galway in the mid-West of Ireland, and then head to the south coast of England for Goodwood action.
Yesterday's opening race at the Galway Festival saw mine and Tony's Galway Trends report get off to the best possible start, as we flagged up 5/1 winner, Force Of Habit, as our selection. Although we were disappointed not to do better than 9th of 20 with our other race pick last night, a 5/1 winner from two runners is pretty good.
We're covering another ten races between today and Sunday, and it's not too late to get a copy of the report if you'd like. Pop over to the Irish trends page for full details.
Tonight sees a seven race card, and we've honed in on the 5.45, where we're quite sweet on one horse; and, the 7.00 which is an altogether more tricky conundrum.
Elsewhere on the card, Shamiran looks to have sound each way credentials in the opening maiden hurdle at 5.10, although there is the small matter of 19 rivals to overcome for just three places.
The draw is likely to be a significant factor in the 7f handicap at 8.05, with high seemingly well favoured. With that in mind, I'm siding win and place with two outsiders (in both market and draw terms), King's Bastion and Azaboy.
The former's best form is all at seven furlongs and, with the far rail to guide him, he ought to be in there pitching. Expect a better run than his last effort, where he never got into it over six furlongs.
Azaboy's overall level of form doesn't look so good, but he did finish third over the trip here in the 2008 Festival and, at the price, is worth taking a chance on.
Winners in the last eight years at 16/1 and 20/1 twice mean this is a race where fortune can favour the brave.
Meanwhile, down in the heart of Sussex, the sleepy southerners are stirring. Straw boaters and linen suits abound for what is the most beautiful race meeting in the Northern hemisphere.
Welcome to Goodwood... Glorious Goodwood.
Five days of scintillating equine action, a draw bias, findable winners, and me attending personally on Friday. What more could you want?! 😉
They start the way they mean to go on, with a 15 runner handicap to kick off proceedings.
Mark Johnston and Sir Michael Stoute are the trainers to look out for but, given the form of the Stoute stable (Harbinger aside!), I'd be looking for signs of a resurgence before piling in there.
Captain Johnston on the other hand has his string bounding at the moment, and he looks set for a tremendous week. Alas, he runs three in the opener: the two Tartan's, Gunna and Gigha; and Submariner.
Given that his last two winners carried nine stone ten, the obvious one would be Tartan Gigha, with Fallon booked. He has plenty of form on undulating tracks, including two wins over nine furlongs at Epsom and, if not make too much use of early, could go close.
But I'm going with Royston 'the Boyston' fffffffrench and Submariner. He's been found wanting in his last two starts over a mile and a half, and this drop back in trip looks ideal (won his last two starts at today's 1m2f trip). He does have a little bit to find on class, but that's why he's 10/1!
In the Gordon Stakes at 2.45, the first Group race of the week, Sir Michael Stoute has won four of the last nine events. Unhelpfully, he doesn't have a runner this year, so that's no use. (He won it last year with that Harbinger fellow).
The longest priced winner in the last six years was a 3/1 shot, so - unless you're a contrarian (and if you are, I like your style!) - you won't be looking too far down the bookies' chalk boards.
It looks much more competitive this year than normal, and I'm going to do my normal contrary thing, and side with Ballydoyle's Fencing Master. Sure, he was beaten in an egg and spoon race last time; sure, he's gone five races without a win. But he's got a real touch of class, as evidenced by a four length 7th in the 2000 Guineas.
Whether he'll get the mile and a half here remains to be seen, but he never quite got there over the 1m2f of the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot, so he definitely deserves this first effort at the Blue Riband distance. 14's looks good solid each way value.
The Lennox Stakes is next, and a Frenchie is lurking in the line up in the form of Dalghar. Also in the line up are several horses on whom I've lost swathes of cash, including Lord Shanakill, and I turn my back on them this day.
3yo's have won the last three renewals, and four of the last six, so I'm looking to Air Chief Marshal to cement his win on Irish Oaks weekend here. He's won his last two over seven furlongs, and was quietly impressive at the Curragh.
He was a trends horse for us that day, but I didn't pick him from the shortlist when I should have. Hopefully today will not be a case of 'after the Lord Mayor's show'... but it probably will!
Next up, at four o'clock, is the first juvenile race of the meeting, the Molecomb Stakes, over the fast five. Speed is all you need here, as a recent alumni roll of Monsieur Chevalier, Finjaan, Fleeting Spirit, Strike Up The Band, Tournedos, and Whitbarrow will testify.
Richard Hannon's two year olds have carried all before them this season and, though it's an unimaginative choice, his Zebedee won't be 'springing' much of a shock if he wins here (sorry).
In the mile handicap at 4.35, Start Right, a 3yo, makes the market. Given that two of the last four races have gone to that age group, from just thirteen runners; and, given that they've also had two runners up in the same period, Luca Cumani's charge has to be respected, especially from a potentially favourable high draw.
He's a must for the placepot, but I'll also throw in my keys: Keys Of Cyprus, that is, who looks a big price at 25's. As an eight year old, he's probably not improving any. But his trainer has won this twice in the last eight years (with a 5yo and a 7yo), and son Adrian - stable jockey - takes the ride from a choice of two.
True, he's not ideally drawn. But that's why he's a pony! (25/1) Small each way might pay.
In the maiden at 5.05, Straight Line has the best form of those with a run (or runs) to their name, but he's had lots of chances and is readily passed over.
Mark Johnston has taken this twice in the last five years, and runs Golden Hinde here. Nailed on to improve for his Redcar debut over seven furlongs, where he didn't appear to stay the trip, he's my pick from those with form on the board.
Goodwood is a tricky track for newcomers to negotiate, so - whilst the rest 'could be anything' - my vote goes with the boat (Golden Hinde was a boat,Â remember?!)
There's a marathon handicap to close, and highly weighted four and five year olds have held sway in recent times. Montaff, second in a Listed race over the trip earlier in the season (and subsequently highly tried, and not beaten far, in Group races), lugs top weight and might just carry it to victory. That has happened three times in the last five years.
Cumani and Johnston have won three each of the last eight renewals, so their entries demand hawkish scrutiny. This job is made marginally easier by the absence of Kazbow, Luca's intended runner. Johnston on the other hand runs two: Emerging Artist and Becausewecan.
The former is the clear form pick on recent evidence, though the latter has perhaps the best overall form. Helpful? No, not really.
Woolfall Treasure won a course and distance handicap about six weeks ago and, on a track like this, that's a major plus. I'm going to look past Johnston's pair and tentatively tickle Woolfall Treasure (16/1) and Montaff (40/1).
Best of luck with your Goodwood and Galway betting, and don't forget you can get trends help with both of them, courtesy of me and Tony (Galway), and Gavin (Goodwood).
p.s. what's your day one banker?