Starting off in the United Kingdom and Ireland and this weekend we have six meetings on the turf and the All-Weather and after the recent weather inflicted cancellations it makes a pleasant change to be back to a full card.
I am going to start this week with two small bets from Ascot, one an improving youngster and the other a battle hardened nine-year-old, so something for everyone with a bit of luck.
My friend Nigel Twiston-Davies has a real Grand National hope in Blaklion and he goes to the National trial at Haydock won last year by Vieux Lion Rouge who interestingly sidesteps the race this season and heads off to Ascot instead.
Now I do not have a single statistic to back this up but it has felt to me that David Pipe hasn’t really been having the season he would have been expecting but there is no doubt he has a talented chaser on his hands here, and dropped two pounds, he has a decent chance to fun money if only he can be coaxed back to something a lot closer to his better form.
For those looking for a more sensible bet at the same track, it would be hard not to have been impressed with the last two wins of Dieg Man who is unbeaten in the UK after arriving from France. At both Sedgefield and Catterick he has loomed up hard held to win with any amount in hand, and with owner J P McManus and trainer Neil Mulholland now plotting a handicap campaign, he needs to be followed until he is beaten, especially if it appears that the money is down.
Meanwhile, in South Africa at 11.15am UK time, Alec Laird introduces the very expensive (4 million Rand) Frankel filly Frankly at Turffontein in South Africa and I can’t resist a little dabble. Connections have chosen a pretty tough race for her debut instead of a run of the mill maiden and I am assuming that is with good reason and if she lives up to her home reputation first time out she may well take all the beating here.
Finally, my silly bets will run at the far warmer Meydan race track in Dubai and in their two feature races, and involve a small place double on two Saudi Arabian winners now in the hands of South African trainer Neil Bruss.
I confess to not having a clue about the form but I can say that both won their last races very impresssively, and with odds on favourites in both races a small place double may well pay rich rewards.
Fantastic Four runs in the Group three Firebreak Stakes at 3.40pm and is priced as I write at odds of 50/1 while 16/1 shot Tieamah takes in the Group Two Balanchine at 4.50pm. Thanks to the shortage of runners both need to finish in the first two home which is a shame and explains the low staking suggestion, but they could be better than the majority think and might even have better chances than their odds imply.
Vieux Lion Rouge 2.25pm Ascot Saturday
Dieg Man 3.00pm Ascot Saturday (NAP)
Frankly 11.15am Turffontein South Africa Saturday
Place double to small stakes – Fantastic Four 3.40pm and Tieamah 4.50pm Meydan Saturday