MY MIND is starting to wander towards jumps racing with a lovely two day meeting at Chepstow getting things off and running over Friday and Saturday this weekend.
First though we have the final throes of the flat season with some brilliant action at Newmarket and York live on ITV Racing on Saturday. I have reviewed all 7 of those races for our Gambla podcast which can be found here:
My selection in this one is VOLKAN STAR who looks good value at the current prices. He has impressed me on both starts and looks like he could be the best of this group.
I do like the favourite Lampang here but at the prices I think STONE CIRCLE looks one that we should have an each way punt on. I was very impressed by his win at the Curragh last month and that will stand him in good stead for this. The soft ground is a bit of a question mark for him but at 10-1 we can afford to take a chance and find out.
JOHAN won very nicely at Musselburgh and I think that performance has perhaps been overlooked somewhat given the other nice looking horses in this race. I expect Johan to improve again as most of William Haggas' 2 year olds do and he seems a very big price to me.
The Dewhurst is seen as one of the top trials for the 2,000 Guineas in May of the following year. This year we have a potential superstar on our hands in the shape of Pinatubo. He is long odds on to win this one so it's not a bet for me but very much a race worth watching to see if he can destroy this field the way he has in his previous races. If he can then the 5/4 available on him for the 2,000 Guineas might not be around for long.
A fascinating 6 furlong spring in soft ground here with 21 runners to work out. I have two that I'm going to back against the field. The first of those is AIR RAID who will enjoy the soft ground with almost all of his wins coming on soft. The second choice is of course my old friend GULLIVER who was placed again last time out and will go close again in this with conditions to suit. We keep backing him and he keeps finding the frame at decent prices so there is no harm in that.
The Cesarewitch is a long distance flat handicap named after the son of a Russian Tsar who put up the £300 prize money for the race back in 1839 although he would need to put up considerably more than that these days to cover the £350,000 prize pool.
The race this year is as competitive as ever so I'm not having the favourite Buildmeupbuttercup at odds of around 5-1. Instead I am having a speculative each way on a 50-1 shot and a second bet on a 12-1 Irish raider. My first selection for the race is SUMMER MOON for the Mark Johnston yard. He won nicely last time out leading from the front as he tends to do. I expect he will try to lead from the front again and whilst that will be much harder in this race he has an excellent pace judge on board (Franny Norton) and they might be able to steal it from the front. He is untried over this longer distance and if that brings out more improvement then he could spring a surprise at a huge price.
My second choice is GREAT WHITE SHARK for the Willie Mullins stable who will enjoy getting his teeth into a test like this. Whilst the market has spoken in favour of their other runner Buildmeupbuttercup I think this runner looks like much better value. He is unexposed over this sort of trip and on the flat in general. His win at Galway in July was quite eye-catching and although this is a very different test today I think he can go close with William Buick on board.