There is something amusing about the fact that the only two meetings in England on Sunday come from Ludlow and Plumpton, but I suppose that the Flat jockeys – those not flying to America, France or Ireland, anyway – need the occasional day off, like the rest of us.
Anyway, a bet is a bet wherever the racing takes place, though I must admit attractive wagers were hard to find.
There is certainly no lack of class racing, with the Classics in France and the Aidan O’Brien Derby bandwagon – Anthony Van Dyck was the latest one on to the Epsom conveyor belt after winning at Lingfield - rolling onto Broome and co in the Derrinstown Derby Trial.
He really is at the lowest end of the odds scale that I like to tip at, but he has undeniable claims of notching another Group 3 success. He will do for me on a quiet day.
Many will view the step back to a mile for the first time as a negative, but I like the way he travelled into the race in a very strong Group 3 over 1m2f at Naas on his reappearance, his first outing since last July, and you can reasonably expect him to have come on a bundle for that run.
He won the Derrinstown on this card here last May and the way he tanked through the race in the Derby last year – he traded at 2-1 in-running at Epsom when breezing along 2f out – suggests that he can cope with the step back in trip, in this grade anyway.
Two or three of his rivals have gone forward in the past, so hopefully he will get a good tow, and he can outclass the field.
Elsewhere on the card, I was seriously toying with Guaranteed in the Derrinstown, or at least suggesting backing him in the without Broome market.
He finished a 40-length last of six to the favourite on his reappearance here last month, but surely that is a throw-out run. He went from leading to being eased and last in the space of about half a furlong, so surely something went wrong with him there.
If it was the soft ground, then he should at least get a better surface here if the forecast (that I use) is correct, and he looked a good prospect when winning his Group 3 on good ground here last October.
But clearly backing him comes with a pretty big proviso after that comeback run, so I am going to leave him alone.
I don’t play at short prices but I wouldn’t put anyone off backing Persian King at around 8-11 in the French 2,000 Guineas on Sunday afternoon, if that is your bag, especially as Never No More was declared a non-runner earlier on Saturday.
The ground promises to ride on the heavy side after a lot of recent rain, and that is an unknown. That alone would be enough to deter me from backing him at odds-on but apparently connections don’t think it is too much of a concern.
He has the best form in the race, having lowered the colours of Magna Grecia at Newmarket last season, and he did everything that was asked of him, and probably more, when winning over course and distance by five lengths on his return.
He will probably win if handling conditions, but I am going to play in the fillies’ Classic instead and recommend an interest on East each-way at 6-1.
The way I read a formbook – do those hard copies still exist by the way? – Kevin Ryan’s filly should be favourite.
Although in a much lower grade obviously, she showed she handled soft ground when winning on her debut (and two of her siblings have won in deep ground) and then she went to Saint-Cloud for a Group 3 and absolutely bolted up by two and a half lengths, beating a pair of last-time-out winners into the bargain.
And, of course, she ran a tremendous race when second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf, considering that she was drawn 14 of 14.
She has again been handed by the outside berth in 10 here, which is an obvious negative, but there is no-one better than Jamie Spencer for riding a horse cold from out the back, and he will be hoping the pace in the race – three of these like to go forward – and the testing ground will see them come back to him in the closing stages.
And, remember, she had to do it the hard way from the rear at Saint-Cloud – she was last 2f out before switching to the outside and quickening up well to win easily – so I think she has the tactical speed to cope.
From the French 1,000 Guineas to a 0-100 handicap hurdle at Plumpton - it is certainly a varied tipping column today.
He wasn’t in great form the last time we saw him over hurdles at Huntingdon in February, but he was dropped 2lb to a mark of 102 after that run, which allows him to sneak into this handicap band.
He has to hump 12st 7lb here, but Gary Moore claims 7lb off him and the horse comes here after two decent placed efforts on the Flat at Lingfield and Brighton off a mark of 74.
If he translates that ability back to this sphere he will take a fair bit of beating here off this mark, and it is encouraging that he ran one of his better efforts over hurdles when fourth in a maiden hurdle on good ground in November.
The opening 6-1 offer with bet365 is very fair, with Dan Skelton’s short-priced favourite Istimraar making the market, and that represents a decent each-way bet.
This is a very winnable race and it will be disappointing if he doesn’t at least go close to winning.