I am only hopeful that the good run continues and that I do not suffer from a total burnout in the process! Three days booked off work, should help a little at least!
Assuming I have understood the weather forecasts correctly today then we should have a good bet lined up!
4.00 - Bathwick Tyres Cathedral Stakes (Listed Race) 6f
The short priced favourite in this event comes courtesy of trainer Kevin Ryan and Our Jonathan. Is he a bad favourite though? Well, if the weather remains dry until closer to midnight, as it is scheduled to do, then he looks like he is. This is because his best form comes quite clearly in soft ground, his Ayr performance to win the Gold Cup was scintillating, but many of his opponents failed to produce their best given the conditions and as so often is the case in soft ground, he appeared to look better than he probably is.
I do not want to discredit the horse though, as I feel in soft ground he is a quality racehorse, but with the conditions today described as good to soft and good in the final four furlongs, he is not going to enjoy this race as much. At 13-8 he is far from a value option, but this does not mean he cannot win as his chance is more accurately priced at 11-4.
The other prominent horse featured in the market is the Roger Charlton trained Definightly who himself also excels on soft ground. Having only raced once so far this season and had a 43 day break since, he does not fit the likely pattern of a big race sprint winner and I think he will improve later on in the campaign. Conditions do not appear to have come right for him to show his ultimate best form and he can also be overlooked as a value alternative to the favourite.
Eton Rifles edges third favouritism at the present moment, but appears in this race carrying a 4lb penalty for Listed successes last Autumn. They were not majorly strong events so it is discouraging to expect a success when he has this added burden. He may run well but with his trained Stuart Williams being far from in-form, he is overlooked for win purposes only.
It is quite feasible that one of two could take advantage in the drying conditions. The more obvious choice is perhaps LIBRANNO, a horse trained by frequent Salisbury winner Richard Hannon. The trainer has won this event twice in the last five years with individuals who quite possibly were not of the same class as his entrant this afternoon. On this alone, it makes the 9-1 about his runner a clear value pick.
Libranno will also be suited by the drying conditions which should see the final part of the race being run on good ground. If no unanticipated showers occur earlier on in the day then conditions should be suitable for him to regain his form. His trainer seemed fairly confident on his website this morning that he will hold claims.
Richard Hannon mentioned that "he has won in the soft, but better ground probably enables him to draw the sting out of the opposition, and it certainly did not ride too bad on the course there last week. He is a Group 2 sprinter and not far off Group 1, so if conditions are OK he should be hard to beat in this Listed company."
Competition for the lead will be the biggest inconvenience that Libranno possibly faces in this race, but Richard Hannon's two previous race winners both raced prominently to victory and he should still have a better chance to win than his present 9-1 odds suggest.
There is also one 3yo lined up to face her elders this afternoon and that is ARTISTIC JEWEL. She is a steadily improving filly accustomed to most types of ground and she comes into this race in peak fitness and ready for a sterner test of her skills. On the face of it, she should in theory be slightly outclassed, but the drying ground will play to her strengths and it is notable that 3yo runners do have a fair record in the event.
Whilst many of her main rivals have been off the course for five weeks or more, she has remained active since her debut and ran only 15 days ago. This activity may have her sharper than her opponents and with her weight for age and sex allowance giving her an added edge, she cannot be dismissed from calculations.
Whilst a place is potentially the best she could manage in this company, it would hardly shock if she just had enough to hold on. Her debut this season was a slowly run affair and she failed to settle, but with several rivals liking to lead, pace is guaranteed here. On better ground last time with a run under her belt she improved and to win this race at these weights I believe that she only needs to improve a further 5lb to win!
On a course where she has tasted victory before, and against rivals that have not yet peaked in terms of fitness, she has hope!
The only other possible contender is Morache Music, but with his trained Peter Makin so badly out of form, he is dismissed. Without the trainer negative, the horse would need to improve at least 9lb to make any impression.
THE BET: Equal WIN ONLY stakes on Libranno (11-1) and Artistic Jewel (9-1) (Betfair)
I know full well that there is also a French Oaks to take care of, but I am not as keen to oppose the favourite in that, as Beauty Parlour does look quite special. Whether the odds on her chances are accurate is an unknown and I may try to find an answer to the puzzle later on in the afternoon. The race is due off at 2.45 so any further update on the subject of my race selection, can be found on Twitter/Facebook only.
No UK site seems to proof foreign bets! Shame, as I love the occasional French Group 1.