Friday, October 30, 2009

Trick or treat?

Two jumps cards tomorrow with the feature race of the day, the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, attracting just five runners. I'm assuming heavy rain does not fall before they go to post. On official ratings Tamarinbleu, trained by David Pipe, is the one to beat and is generally available at 9/4. He tends to run well fresh and was unfortunate to be pipped by Snoopy Loopy at Haydock on his debut run last season, with Kauto Star memorably unshipping Sam Thomas at the last. Tamarinbleu's form tailed off after that; on balance, for me, he's a difficult horse to catch right, so I'm going to look elsewhere. Snoopy Loopy has to give weight to the others but Ollie Magern and Deep Purple are of interest. Ollie Magern loves it round here, has won this before and went down fighting last year to Evan Williams' State Of Play, giving that winner ten pounds. Evan Williams saddles Deep Purple this time but this is the horse's first attempt over the three mile one furlong trip; the yard intend to use this race as a pointer for future plans. A couple of layers go 3/1 the eleven year old Ollie Magern which is jolly tempting for me - he's the selection; if you think Deep Purple will stay, at the age of eight he's the one with potential.

In the 3.25 Philip Hobbs' Fair Along is suited by race conditions but was nowhere to be seen in the Cesarewitch a fortnight ago. That run may give him a fitness edge over market rival Pettifour who won this last year but didn't quite go on from that. Lough Derg is as tough as old boots but, according to his trainer, usually needs a couple of runs to reach his peak, while No Refuge is a horse I like, although he doesn't always look the quickest or the best over the hurdles. I've had burnt fingers with Fair Along before but on the back of a positive note from his trainer in a recent RP Stable Tour article, I give Fair Along the vote.

Over the past four years Nicky Henderson has a 31% strike rate at Ascot yet jockey Barry Geraghty has chosen to go to Wetherby instead for just one ride for the yard - My Petra in the 2.20. The layers make the mare a 7/2 chance this evening but she has it to do in my book giving four pounds and upwards to all her rivals. In this very competitive listed event, I'll consider an each-way wager on Alan King's Santia - a recent note described her as a 'very useful mare and a quality individual', hinting the plan was to come here to try and get some black type before sending her to the paddocks.

Before we go any further a word of thanks is due to Betfinder for bringing to our attention the free Betfair / Timeform racecard which covers all tomorrow's terrestrial TV races; if you're thinking of having a wager on any of the Scoop 6 races, the card is certainly worth a look.

At Ascot the feature is the United House Gold Cup run over three miles in which seventeen are set to face the starter. Here are selective comments on selected runners but if you fancy a wager in this, you'd be well advised to consult the aforementioned Timeform card. Teletext reports today that Jeremy Scott has top weight Gone For Lunch 'straighter than this time last year' and 'his work is certainly very good at the moment' - his performance in this will determine whether connections target the Hennessy at Newbury in a month's time; to me Just Amazing looks somewhat exposed here against some battle-hardened handicappers; Seven Is My Number tries the trip for the first time, having won three chases on the bounce but he did everything in his power at Bangor the last time to throw his chance away - he's not an easy ride; Always Waining isn't one to trust implicitly - I've decided to leave well alone - but he has looked well-handicapped for some time and seemed set to win at Cheltenham two weeks ago but, two lengths up, he slithered on landing at the second last, leaving Nelson's Spice to collect; Boychuk, who finished third in that race, is described as 'inconsistent' by his handler; Hold Em isn't the biggest but is as tough as they come and would represent a reasonable each-way chance if handling the stiff fences while Evan Williams said recently they were going to target long distance novice hurdles with Mr Robert! You pay your money and you take your choice.

Others of potential interest include Hibiki in the 3.00 with Giles Hawkins claiming the ten pounds; Cockney Trucker in the 1.20 - looks 'made for fences' says Philip Hobbs, and Pterodactyl (2.25) who should strip fitter following his return in the Persian War Novices' Hurdle at Chepstow last Saturday.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Noted this weekend

The two star performances over the weekend were St Nicholas Abbey winning the Racing Post Trophy and over in Ireland Dunguib taking the maiden hurdle at Galway. This evening St Nicholas Abbey is generally 3/1 and 7/2 for next year's 2000 Guineas and 3/1 for the Derby, but Stan James go as short as 2/1. Dunguib is generally a 5/2 shot for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham next March.

Paul Nicholls may have come away from Chepstow without a winner yesterday but it was no surprise to see his Pepe Simo (5/2) take the Paul Nicholls Racing 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle at Wincanton today, beating the 13/8 favourite Henry King a length and a quarter.

During the BBC's coverage from Aintree on Saturday Clare Balding mentioned the John Smith's marketing campaign which is set to offer drinkers a share in the people's racehorse, a three-year-old called Smithy. Viewers were encouraged to check the John Smith's website for details. I've just had a quick peek - there are 'bogof' offers to several interesting meets but finding details of Smithy wasn't easy. An article from Marketing informed us we can register our interest from January 2010, and it was that article that pointed me in the direction of the link to Smithy's Yard, Home of the People's Racehorse.

With Christmas creeping ever closer, two more books of interest - Marcus Armytage offers some frivolous racing tales in 'Turn Me On Guv: 'Tails' from the Racecourse', while those looking for something a little more serious may want to consider fellow blogger Ben Aitken's 'Narrowing The Field - Using the Dosage Method to Win at National Hunt Racing', available from the High Stakes bookshop.

Several acquaintances have been quick to tell me about Wrexham's indifferent start in the Blue Square Premiership this season. Mrs Tips, ever the helpful one, suggested the club sent a scout to run his eye over some dolphins who were filmed off the north Wales coast, playing football with jellyfish... Staying with the football theme, I had to smile at the commentator's introduction to the Chelsea versus Blackburn Rovers match on Match Of The Day last night. "If football was played on paper," he boomed, "we would win the pools every week!" Doesn't sound a bad idea to me.

Finally, spare a thought for amateur rider Victoria Cartmel who made history yesterday by becoming the first jockey to be banned for misuse of the whip and dropping her hands in the same race, the finale at Newbury yesterday. Sometimes, you just can't do right for doing wrong...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Aintree and Chepstow

Only eight are set to go to post for tomorrow's Aintree feature, the Old Roan Chase, which is run over two and a half miles. Howard Johnson's Tidal Bay proved somewhat disappointing last term - it was no disgrace to be beaten by Master Minded in the Tingle Creek, but when tried over two and a half and three miles his jumping never really convinced. Earlier in the week stable jockey Denis O'Regan said he was 'wary' about this race and that the horse was only 'OK' after sitting on him. On balance, I'm happy to look elsewhere. At eleven years of age, Monet's Garden and Knowhere are probably past their prime. For a nine-year-old Don't Push It has plenty of hurdle experience while both Kicks For Free and Tartak come to this after contesting novice chases last year. Having won four of his eight races, one over course and distance, and with the stable in decent form, Tartak gets the vote - he won't be inconvenienced should the predicted rain arrive.

The Veterans' Chase at 1.40 looks trappy while Noble Alan is expected to take the 3.25 although his price is likely to be short.

At Chepstow the going is good to soft with further wind and rain predicted. Six face the starter for the Persian War Novices' Hurdle at 1.20 - a fascinating contest over two miles four furlongs. Reve De Sivola, sixth in last year's Triumph, sets the standard here with an official rating of 143; the yard is in good form at present. Paul Nicholls' entry Aiteen Thirtythree catches the eye, being owned by Mr Paul Barber and Mrs M. Findlay, mother of one Harry Findlay. Speaking of his charge in The Times recently the handler said "If ever there was another Denman, this is it." Pterodactyl is no mug but has to give weight to the field and Frascati Park is interesting on his hurdles debut. This evening's tissue has Reve De Sivola 10/11 and Aiteen Thirtythree 4/1; at those prices I will go for value and take a chance with Aiteen Thirtythree.

The Silver Trophy at 1.55 looks something of a puzzle with seventeen declared. Top weight Elusive Dream is set to carry eleven stones twelve pounds (minus claimer Harry Skleton's three pounds allowance). The next horse in the handicap, El Dancer, carries just ten thirteen, while the bottom seven are all set to carry more than their long handicap weight. Many will suspect the top weight has been left in to benefit the other Nicholls runner and likely favourite Alfie Sherrin who is, nonetheless, two pounds out of the handicap. If you're brave enough to have a bet in this, here are recent notes from the Racing Post on some runners which may be of interest: Philip Hobbs on Prince Taime - '...race should tell us where we go with him this season: if he wins or runs well off his mark of 145 we can start thinking about conditions races; failing that we can switch to fences.'; Philip Hobbs on Ring The Boss - 'So disappointing last season.'; Alan King on Bakbenscher - 'I might still give him one run over hurdles just to take the freshness out of him, then we'll go chasing...'; and Evan Williams on Dantari - '...could be a decent horse in the spring in a big handicap off a light weight.' I shall watch from the sidelines.

The 2.25 Beginners' Chase is intriguing with Meanus Dandy, another owned by Mrs M. Findlay and Mr P. K. Barber, likely to be sent off a short-priced favourite. Course and distance winner Brenin Cwmtudu likes Chepstow and will get the cut in the ground he requires. His handler told the Weekender recently 'I feel he could make significant progress this season' and he would be disappointed if he wasn't better over fences than his current hurdles rating (117). If the eight go to post I'll check out the each-way betting opportunties.

The finale is a three mile maiden hurdle, although three of the field are recorded as having won over the distance. Paul Nicholls ex-French grey Royal Collonges will feature near the head of the market as will the Sir Robert Ogden owned Chamirey. This one is rated 130 but has been off the track for 552 days; trainer Alan King comments - "If he recaptures his French form, he could be interesting." I'll check prices beforehand but am tempted to take a chance with Chamirey.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Taking stock

The jumps season starts to take centre stage in the next couple of weeks but a couple of events this week haven't necessarily shown the game in the best light. There were four fatalities at Wetherby on Wednesday; the course will have to pass an inspection before the meeting scheduled for Friday and Saturday October 30th / 31st will be allowed to go ahead - the Charlie Hall Chase is the feature of the Saturday. Meanwhile, yesterday at Cheltenham of all places, the four runners in the five o'clock race were forced to take the wrong course after staff failed to remove a temporary running rail. A stewards' inquiry ensued and all jockeys were exonerated - how often do we see that happen? The incident has been referred to the BHA - rumours that the groundstaff concerned have been served with a one-day ban for misuse of the rails are wide of the mark.

Two impressive winners this weekend... The proverbial handicap snip Darley Sun ran out an easy winner of the Cesarewitch and the Kempton Christmas Hurdle is now on the agenda for Starluck after the gelding won on his seasonal debut whilst remaining in second gear.

Earlier this week in The Times Paul Nicholls put up three dark horses from the yard to watch out for - Aiteen Thirtythree, Royal Charm and Valentine Vic. Don't say I didn't tell you.

Finally, as Sea The Stars prepares to take up a new career at stud, Julian Muscat composed a fascinating double-page spread for Thursday's The Times that gave a glimpse into the esoteric world of the horse breeder. Hills offer 12/1 that any of Sea The Stars' first crop of three-year-olds will win a classic.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Kempton chit-chat

Sunday's listed novices' hurdle at Kempton (3.25) should prove useful for future reference. In this evening's tissue Press The Button is marked up favourite but on official ratings he has enough to find with both the top-rated Australia Day and Twiston-Davies' Cootehill; interest in the latter is tempered by the fact that he gives weight all round here and has a disappointing run at Market Rasen the last time to put behind him. Both Press The Button and Australia Day have had recent outings on the Flat. Kempton is a sharp track where the emphasis is on speed; I envisage both Aather and Australia Day trying to lead from the start. Australia Day has the top speed rating and would make some appeal as betting material if priced around the 3/1 mark.

In the 4.35 Philip Hobbs' Noble Request returns, having been off course for the best part of three years, while those looking for something to oppose odds-on shot Balthazar King with in the 5.10 may be interested in the fact that last time out The Big Orse finished fourth behind Kangaroo Court - that one obliged earlier today at Cheltenham.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Cheltenham on Saturday

Zeturf sponsor the feature handicap chase at Cheltenham tomorrow run over two and a half miles with another hundred yards thrown in at the end just for good measure. War Of The World, formerly with Mouse Morris over in Ireland, has been in good form over the summer and is bound to be popular, as is Poquelin, although the furthest this one has tried to date is two miles one furlong - I wouldn't take it for granted he'll stay. This looks trappy - if I get involved I'll have a small each-way interest in David Pipe's Star Of Germany who will appreciate the going and won the listed Lord Mildmay Memorial at Newton Abbot in August. I'm ignoring his latest effort in the Kerry National where the three mile trip and yielding ground probably didn't play to his strengths; he has his share of weight here.

According to the market, the novice chase at 3.50 is between the Alan King trained King Troy and Paul Nicholls' Just Amazing. The former has already beaten the latter at levels but only by a neck, while the official handicapper rates King Troy just two pounds higher than his rival. It looks close on paper. King Troy didn't jump well at Market Rasen the last time but in a recent RP stable tour the handler implied that his charge had got to the front too soon. He's trying three miles here for the first time - the trainer thinks he'll get the trip. For the record Just Amazing has won over two miles seven furlongs at Stratford. In my book King Troy's fourth in the Summer Plate at Market Rasen is the best form on offer and as his price is likely to be slightly bigger, I'll opt for King Troy - the winner has come from the front two in the market on eight occasions in the last ten years. Twiston-Davies' Diablo would have been of some interest for each-way betting purposes had eight runners faced the starter.

The opener looks interesting with the return of the Triumph Hurdle fourth Starluck. He was carrying my money that day last March and was travelling on the bit two from home but the infamous Cheltenham hill found him out. Bearing that in mind, I'm not in a rush to take short odds on his seasonal debut. Silk Hall starts here and then is likely to step up to two and a half miles while stablemate Saticon was something of an enigma last year. Classic Swain is the not most fluent of jumpers and was beaten four lengths by James De Vassy at Chepstow seven days ago while Evan Williams' Simarian faces a tough task giving these opponents eight pounds. Fascinating stuff - the King stable has won the last two renewals with Katchit and Squadron, so I'll chance Silk Hall this time.

Emma Lavelle's Kangaroo Court will be expected to take the 5 o'clock but he'll be no price while in the concluding bumper I'll watch Fiveways closely. From a yard that has been in excellent form during the summer months (over 26% winners so far this season), he did me a favour at Bangor last time. This looks much tougher though as, together with Start Me Up, he carries top weight; Mr J Tudor helps the cause by taking off five pounds. Of Miss Overdrive in this race Alan King says: 'Having clearly done very well over the summer, I have to say her work has improved quite dramatically.' Say no more.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The first Cheltenham meeting of the autumn

Following the summer recess, just a quick note as jump racing resumes at Prestbury Park tomorrow (Friday). Two interesting runners are Snap Tie in the 2.55 and Barizan in the juvenile hurdle at 4.40; both are likely to start odds-on and make little appeal as betting material. Philip Hobbs' smart hurdler Snap Tie isn't overly big but tries fences for the first time in the Novices' Chase - nonetheless he's still just a 20/1 shot with most layers for the Arkle next March. Should the fences get in his way, Pigeon Island and Rippling Ring are the most likely to benefit - to me, in his races, Rippling Ring hasn't looked the easiest of rides.

Barizan, rated 140 by the handicapper, has the form in the book in the 4.40. The last time at Market Rasen he ran away with his race, jumping fluently and beating Forty Thirty some fifteen lengths. On that occasion I thought his official rating may have flattered him somewhat but now he looks one to keep a very close eye on; his one defeat over hurdles came when he lost a shoe during the race.

Finally, at Ludlow this afternoon, The Package, with a second to New Little Bric in a Grade 3 handicap chase at Newbury to his name, was expected to take the Beginners' Chase at 4.50. The 4/7 favourite was beaten a neck, battled out of it by Matuhi (11/4). From the Racing Post's comments in running: '...still close up to the winner run-in, would not go on...'; he looks one to be wary of in the future.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Some weekend jumping notes

The Sporting Life reports plenty of drama at Ffos Las today - sadly 11/2 chance Manorson broke down after winning the Sir David Mansel Lewis Memorial Beginners' Chase.

David Pipe's charge Seven Is My Number, owned by David Johnson, took the opener at Bangor yesterday - the 9/2 chance beat Khachaturian (7/4) a short head in a relatively fast time. That's his third win on the bounce this autumn, although, according to the Racing Post's comments in running, the horse did everything he could to throw away the chance: '..ridden when wandered right and joined last, had plenty left but made it very hard for rider, cajoled home in front..." The rider who worked the oracle was Timmy Murphy. The horse looks far from straightforward but, despite those comments, clearly possesses ability as he was giving the runner-up ten pounds.

Evan Williams is in the spotlight in the Weekender's 'Straight from the Stable' feature this week and I was intrigued to see Silverburn is now an inmate of the yard. Although this horse, formerly with Paul Nicholls, has a Tolworth Hurdle to his name, I always felt he never quite lived up to expectations, even though Nicholls was quick to talk up his charge's chance when any opportunity arose. After finishing fourth in the Ballymore at the 2007 Cheltenham Festival, Silverburn was, for me, one to take on - his third in the 2007 Feltham behind Joe Lively was a typically frustrating effort. Mr Williams has a reputation for working wonders with animals that have maybe fallen out of love with the game - it will be interesting to see how Silverburn progresses.

Noted from that same Weekender article - State Of Play won't be ready for the Charlie Hall at Wetherby and is being aimed at the Grand National; Brenin Cwmtudu has schooled well over fences and 'could make signifcant progress this season' (has five-day entries in two chases at Ludlow on Thursday); Foxhunter winner Cappa Bleu is waiting for the rain to arrive and Fight Club is one to look out for when starting his novice hurdle campaign.

Howard Johnson caught the eye with three winners from just four runners at Carlisle on Friday but the form didn't carry over to Hexham the next day where both Wave Power (evens) and Montoya's Son (6/4) both disappointed. It's early days yet...

A couple of weeks ago Tom Segal, writing in the Weekender, indicated he preferred Flat racing to Jumps as a betting medium. Amongst the reasons he advanced - in chases in particular it was critical for a horse to get into a jumping rhythm and you could never tell beforehand if that was going to happen. I just couldn't resist putting forward a couple of counterpoints, reasons why I'm not so keen on the Flat game as a bettng medium - effect of the draw, traffic problems, less form to go on... ;)

Finally, for those who like their information straight from the horse's mouth, NH trainer Chris Bealby has an interesting blog at

Friday, October 09, 2009

The proper start to the jumps season

Many consider tomorrow's meeting at Chepstow the real start to the jumps season; in days gone by the feature race was the Mercedes Benz Chase, with the BBC televising at least three races from the card. How times have changed! The Paul Nicholls stable moves into gear now, and Ruby Walsh will start his regular winter flights across the Irish Sea. In the past, searching for value, I've experimented with an approach of opposing Nicholls' runners at this meeting, the theory being that after their summer break the horses may not be as far forward as many will assume. The results have been decidedly mixed - last year was best forgotten with Nicholls-trained beasts winning four (Tchico Polos 5/2, Herecomesthetruth 10/11f, R De Rien Sivola 8/1 and Taniano even money favourite). As today's Daily Telegraph reports Nicholls feels his charges are as far forward as they were this time last year, I'd advise caution in following the strategy this year.

One I would be prepared to take on is Classic Swain in the four-year-old hurdle at 4.10. Classic Swain has never struck me as straightforward and in the past has shown signs of temperament together with a tendency to miss the odd hurdle out here and there. Any Given Day is a horse I like while Trenchant, with Choc Thornton up, looks the pick of the Alan King runners. Josh Gifford's Helium, a staying-on eighth in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham, is held in high regard but, as with many on their first run of the season, fitness has to be taken on trust; having said that, the tissue prices the horse at 20/1 which looks big. In an open event, Any Given Day is put forward as the tentative selection - his run at Market Rasen in mid-August may give him an edge over some of his rivals here.

Tot Of The Knar has had her fair share of trainers and moved to the Nicholls yard in August. A game mare on her day, she gets into the 3.35 with a light weight but she has been novice chasing in smallish fields - taking on seasoned handicappers here she makes little appeal at cramped odds.

The favourite has won eight of the last ten runnings of the juvenile hurdle which is due off at 4.45. At the time of writing Fongoli is the most experienced animal and the market leader. The King stable won this in 2006 with Katchit and then finished second twice in succession with Pouvoir (2007) and Tuanku (2008). Tombov needs to improve on what we've seen so far to get competitive but the yard wouldn't enter him here on a mere whim. Fongoli is the selection.

Only six go to post for the novice chase at 3.00 which tends to act as a stepping stone for a young chaser destined for better things. As two thirds of the field are seven years old and more, I have concentrated on Nicholls' Gullible Gordon and Jonjo O'Neill's Theatrical Moment - Gullible Gordon gets the vote.

Noted - McCoy chooses to ride at Bangor. Khachaturian is of interest in the opener after his recent second to King Troy over a trip perhaps a little beyond his best. The drop back here should suit, although King Troy, previously fourth in the Summer Plate at Market Rasen, didn't jump well that day. King's Forest is respected. The McManus horses City Theatre and Shadow Dancer will be short odds to take the two novice hurdle events but I'll be tempted to have an each-way dabble on Norma Hill if she's priced around the 12/1 mark in the 3.30. This course and distance winning mare returned to action after a two year layoff with a reasonable effort in August. I've won money on her before - on her day she was a very speedy individual; if she retains her ability, she can be competitive here.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

A day at Ascot races

The most common complaint I receive about this blog is that the tips are useless. The second most common complaint I receive is that the blog contains far too much drivel and not enough photographs. I don't really think I'll ever be able to address the first problem; instead I decided to try and do something about the second.

Recently a colleague and his wife went to Ascot's QEII meeting; in return for my marking their card, they agreed to take a few pictures. Out came the best clothes and off to Ascot they went! Obtaining half price tickets through CAMRA (The Campaign For Real Ale), they'd bagged themselves a real bargain before they had even set foot on the the course - £15 for a Grandstand ticket. At the accompanying beer festival on the day, a pint of real ale from the wide selection available cost £2.50, which also struck me as jolly reasonable.

My colleague summed up the day as similar to attending a giant wedding reception but without having to go through the inconvenience of attending the ceremony. Put like that, it certainly made plenty of appeal to me.

The new grandstand was described as 'seriously impressive' (although it looks as though it will be a while before building costs are recouped - the course made a pre-tax loss of just under £11 million last year).

Needles to say, the tips provided by my good self failed abysmally. My colleague's wife however, having attended no more than a handful of meetings, placed £3 of her own money on Joshua Tree 'because I'm a U2 fan'. Not only that, she had the foresight to strike the bet with a bookmaker offering odds of 16/1. Joshua Tree won, SP 12/1.

All in all, a most enjoyable day out at the Ascot races...

On reflection

Earlier this afternoon Sea The Stars won the Qatar Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe in breathtaking fashion. At the home turn the horse looked boxed in near the tail of the field; when the gaps appeared, the horse took them, ably assisted by Mick Kinane in the plate, to beat Youmzain and Cavalryman two lengths and a head, thereby securing 'equine immortality' in the process.

In his post race interview, Mick Kinane, 50, described the horse as 'phenomenal'. The jockey's entry in Sean Magee's compilation The Race Of My Life (1996), is Belmez's neck victory over Old Vic in the 1990 King George at Ascot; I suspect if he were asked the question today, the victory of Sea The Stars in the 2009 Arc would be his selection.

In the immediate aftermath of the race, trainer John Oxx refused to confirm the horse would be aimed at the Breeders' Cup next month. This evening Coral offer the best price about the horse for the Classic - 4/5.

Roughly an hour and a half after the showpiece, Yeats finished third on his final run in the Qatar Prix du Cadran and was given a standing ovation by racegoers. May he enjoy a long, happy retirement!

And, just in case you were wondering, The Stag, from Huntingdon Rugby Club, won the 2009 Mascot Grand National...

Friday, October 02, 2009

Something for the weekend...

At Newmarket tomorrow thirty four go to post for the Cambridgeshire; bookmakers bet 10/1 the field with Skybet paying each way six places. Picking the winner is well beyond my limited capabilties. In the last decade two favourites have obliged (Pipedreamer in 2007 and Blue Monday in 2005) but in 2004 Spanish Don was returned at 100/1. I won't have a bet but, if a gun were held to my head, I'd start by looking at horses carrying less than nine stones.

Course and distance winner Ghanaati returns to racing against her own sex in the Sun Chariot Stakes at three o'clock, having finished a well-beaten third behind Rip Van Winkle in the Sussex at Goodwood. She's been given time to get over that effort, has a favourite's chance and is the selection.

All eyes will be on Longchamp on Sunday when Sea The Stars attempts to win the Qatar Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe at 3.15 BST. Last year Rishi Persad told BBC viewers he would walk home if Zarkava won the race - Zarkava won but Rishi never kept his promise; I wonder if he'll be similarly rash this year. Eighteen go to post; at the time of writing Sea The Stars is 8/11 in places but generally a 4/6 shot. The Arc is often a rough race and the draw can be crucial - the favourite has been given stall six which I would imagine will please John Oxx. The handler went on record a couple of days ago saying he didn't want a low draw (Zarkava won from stall one last year, the first horse to do so since 1964). Similarly you don't want a really wide draw - Andre Fabre said previously he was running for second place with Cavalryman but the horse has been done no favours whatsoever with berth 19. Before the draw, Cavalryman, with Dettori riding, was decent enough value at 10/1 - he's now generally a 12/1 shot. Vision D'Etat is worth a second look and probably overpriced at 14/1 with Coral but as a four-year-old he's set to carry nine stone five; three-year-olds have won 12 of the last 15 runnings. Stacelita remains unbeaten even though she was beaten fair and square by Dar Re Mi the last time, being awarded the Prix Vermeille in the stewards' room on a technicality, much to the disgust of Dar Re Mi's owner Lord Lloyd Webber and his wife who was most indignant in the aftermath. I'm going to stick with an each-way interest in Cavalryman - the poor draw is a major concern - but, along with many I suspect, I hope to see Sea The Stars win the day.

For those who prefer a bit of fun on a Sunday, the tenth running of the annual Mascot Grand National takes place at Huntingdon racecourse over a distance of one furlong two hundred and twenty yards. Mascots caught wearing spikes are likely to be disqualified...