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A return yesterday which didn't cover the stakes, alas, on the ticket builder. Incredibly, despite the competitive looking nature of the racing, five favourites were placed. No good to us whatsoever. Haydock today, and the Old Newton Cup amongst other conumdrums (conundra?!)
1.45 - Leg 1: Just six go in the opening dash, and a favourite of mine, The Art Of Racing, is among them. He's got very consistent form in this grade, and he likes fast ground too. His record in small fields is very good too, and conditions look optimal for a strong run. It's a very dangerous play, I know, but I'm banking on him and am prepared for the 'do something else this afternoon' consequences if he fails to deliver gold or silver.
A - 2 (The Art Of Racing)
2.20 - Leg 2: The second is also a sprint, this time over six furlongs, and I have no such (potentially misplaced) confidence about nominating a banker. In truth, I don't like this race. I don't like it one bit.
Annunciation has a fair chance, and this is his trip and ground, most likely. He may also get an easy lead, unless Masamah decides to try to make all as well. Surely, though, that one will be held up at least a bit, with stamina questions to answer. That said, he's the class horse in here, having contested the Group 1 Temple Stakes (5f) last time. Masamah has won a Group 2 and twice at Listed level, and he may just outclass them.
Louis The Pious is best on small fields, and six is his trip, no doubt - all wins at the distance. He's run pretty well in the big field Wokingham and a big field handicap at York before that, and I reckon he might also get into the shake up.
I don't especially like the other three. But then, I don't especially like any of the nominated trio either. Fingers crossed!
A - 3 (Louis The Pious), 4 (Masamah), 5 (Annunciation)
2.55 - Leg 3: Next up, the Lancashire Oaks. Albasharah would surely have won last time with better luck in running and, in this eight lady affair, she oughtn't be inconvenienced by traffic delays. Whether she's good enough is a different question, though. My hunch is that she is, and it's a strong hunch. This is an extra quarter mile on her four runs to date, but she'll get it almost certainly.
All in all, although there are plenty of 'capable on their day' types, Albashara has been capable on all four of her days, and has by far the most upside. I think she'll win.
If you're of a more sensitive disposition, or just disagree with me about that, then you might like to play the proven course, distance, going form of Moment In Time. She's also on the up but probably on a steadier gradient than the pick. Nevertheless, you have no questions marks with her, aside from whether she's enough ability.
Be careful that Midnight Soprano - or any other - doesn't get withdrawn due to the ground, as that would reduce the number of places to two.
A - 1 (Albasharah)
3.30 - Leg 4: From shallow fields to an ocean deep pool of horses for the Old Newton Cup. There are almost as many runners in this contest than the three before combined, and it looks a typically competitive renewal. I'll take some options here, with upwardly mobile market fancies on A, and longer in the tooth proven performers on B.
This has been a four year old's paradise in recent years, with eleven of the last sixteen being won by that age group, for a handsome level stakes profit. Moreover, 25 of the 53 place positions in that time were also claimed by four-year-olds. Opinion's problem is not one of class or age. Rather, he has more weight than any winner in the last sixteen years and, as they say, weight stops trains. Whether it stops Opinion is matter of, well, opinion, but he cannot be excluded entirely.
I'm surprised and disappointed to see Highland Castle as short in the betting as he is, having planned to follow him off a cliff after his impossibly unlucky run last time. He remains a horse of potential and, though he's not value here, he's hard to ignore too.
Franciscan is currently catalogued in the July Tattersalls sales, and will sure fetch a pretty penny from the jumps boys, whatever he does here. A mile and a half on quick ground is optimal, and big fields are no problem, so he's A material too.
Roman Flight is interesting at a nice price. He didn't stay over a mile (!) further last time in the Ascot Stakes, and back at his preferred trip has a fair chance at a very fair price under a very, very fair jockey. Tepmokea, Fennell Bay and probably appropriately named Scatter Dice complete my melee on this leg.
A - 1 (Opinion), 6 (Highland Castle), 13 (Franciscan)
B - 8 (Scatter Dice), 10 (Fennell Bay), 14 (Tepmokea), 17 (Roman Flight)
4.05 - Leg 5: A two places only nursery handicap, folks. Yes, the juvenile handicaps are upon us and, if you're smart enough to play these well, untold riches await. I'm far from confident that I'm smart enough to do that, so I'll load up again and hope for a shocker.
Party Ruler will probably lead and he might be hard to pull back. He's bred for this sort of trip so might improve for the extra furlong too. A. I'm not certain Culdaff wants this far just yet, having had the speed to run the very quick Steventon Star to less than a length over five furlongs.
Tanseeb is another that has run his best races at the minimum, which means I'm fielding against the first two in the betting. Hmm. Well, you can always play a reverse forecast or something to save!
Jive ran a good'un last time over six to beat a fair sort, and that looked his trip. On the other hand, Lily Rules looks to be improving, and the step up might be right for this one.
It's a tough old puzzle with guesswork at play as much as skill. In the end, I'm going to include Culdaff, because I'm too scared to leave him out!
A - 2 (Culdaff), 3 (Lily Rules), 4 (Party Ruler)
4.40 - Leg 6: Shebebi will bid to make all, but the bigger field might be against him. Instead, I'm looking for a prominent racing type, proven at the trip. That brings in Boots And Spurs and Laffan, and I'm not afraid to play both on A.
Tartiflette and Galician also have good form at the trip and they're my quartet to land the placepot in the lucky last. Mmm, tartiflette.... 🙂
A - 7 (Boots And Spurs), 8 (Laffan)
B - 3 (Galician), 6 (Tartiflette)
Just A's - 1 x 3 x 1 x 3 x 3 x 2 = 54 bets
All picks - 1 x 3 x 1 x 7 x 3 x 4 = 252 bets (!)
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