Foundation can lay Derby groundwork at Doncaster
If you blindly backed the favourite in every single race, you'd have a win rate of about 34pc although the losses would be heavy, and on average, you'd be down just over 7c for every €1 staked.
Casual punters often underestimate just how long the losing streaks can be when backing the jolly - on one occasion this year, 21 consecutive favourites were beaten.
Having said all that, in certain races and under certain conditions backing those near the top of the market can still be the most prudent thing to do, especially in the higher quality contests.
For instance, in Group One races this season, the clear favourite has won 20 races out of 41 and produced a profit of €5.75 to a €1 level stake.
The Racing Post Trophy (3.45 Doncaster) is the last Group One of the season, and it's definitely one of those contests which has been punter friendly in recent times with seven of the last eight favourites successful.
Although no-one will be getting rich off a price of 10/11 or thereabouts, I certainly wouldn't put anyone off backing favourite Foundation for this year's star team of John Gosden and Frankie Dettori.
Favourite for next season's Epsom Derby at 14/1, the Zoffany colt has won all three starts to date and put today's main rival Deauville (Aidan O'Brien) to the sword in the Royal Lodge at Newmarket last time. There's nothing to suggest the form will be reversed today.
O'Brien has a great record in this contest and also runs Port Douglas and Group Three winner Johannes Vermeer although on all known form, those two would also fall short of the required standard to beat Foundation.
Gosden has expressed some concern about the prospect of heavy rain but his charge has already won a Listed race with any amount in hand on good to soft ground so as long as we don't get an absolute washout, I think he'll be fine.
I reckon it's one of those occasions where the market leader is still good value.
At Leopardstown, O'Brien's Black Sea is expected to go off as favourite around 7/4 for the Group Three Killavullan Stakes (3.30), which seems a little short to me, so priced in the region of 5/2, Blue De Vega, representing Michael O'Callaghan's stable, is preferred.
Third on his debut at Dundalk, he may have had a better finish had he not been forced to switch a furlong out but he got off the mark in no uncertain terms at Naas last month and Leopardstown has been the plan since. He gives the impression that he's got plenty more to offer.
Earlier on at Newbury, Zonderland is tipped to land the Group Three Horris Hill Stakes (1.50) for Clive Cox with Adam Kirby on board. Chalked up at 3/1 yesterday evening, the Dutch Art colt was fourth out of six in a Group Three at Newmarket last month but it was closer than the bare result would suggest and he was only one and-a-half lengths behind the winner Sanus Per Aquam.
That horse has since finished third in a Group One so I'm hoping the form stands up reasonably well this afternoon. On his debut, Zonderland beat a number of previous winners at Kempton and I've already put him in my notebook as one to watch next season.
All that considered, likely favourite Start Time should make a good race out of it. Saeed bin Suroor's colt is going for a hat-trick following a maiden win at Thirsk and a nursery at Windsor in which he made his opening mark of 82 look very lenient. He's since gone up to 92 in the ratings and will give his backers a run for their money.
On the same card Romsdal is a worthy favourite around 2/1 for the Group Three St Simon Stakes (2.25). Rated 8lbs clear of nearest rival Rawaki, Gosden has found a good opportunity for his four-year-hold which is still on a recovery mission of sorts having flopped in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes in August.
But he clearly wasn't right on the day and was perhaps a little tired after a career best when third in the King George at Ascot.
I never go mad with my stakes when betting on National Hunt racing at this time of the year but the David Pipe-trained Purple 'n Gold catches the eye as a cracking each-way bet around 10/1 in the 12-runner Winner.co.uk Handicap Chase at Cheltenham (2.10).
He's race fit having won a reasonably competitive handicap chase at Worcester in late September, and followed up by finishing second to Workbench under a penalty in handicap chase at Fontwell a week later.
He's gone up quite a bit in the ratings to 144 but the six-year-old is versatile and has now won on the flat, over hurdles and over fences.
l Last week's each-way selection, Musaddas, won at 7/1.
1.50 Newbury: Zonderland
2.10 Cheltenham: Purple 'n Gold (e/w)
2.25 Newbury: Romsdal
3.30 Leopardstown: Blue De Vega
3.35 Newbury: Alamode
3.45 Doncaster: Foundation