Sweet success on the cards for Candy's Limato
Someone once said that a racehorse is an animal that can take several thousand people for a ride at the same time - and that's how backers of Limato may have felt when the favourite was beaten into second place in the Group One Nunthorpe Stakes last time out, having traded as low as 4/6 in-running on Betfair.
Henry Candy's four-year-old had opened up at 11/4 in the betting ring but as the money piled into the leather satchels thick and fast, the old enemy took action and slashed the price down to 15/8 before the off.
While some punters are wary when they see the letters BF (beaten favourite) beside a horse's name on the race card, you have to look at the overall picture and Limato is still officially the best horse in today's Group One 32Red Sprint Cup Stakes at Haydock (4.30), with a rating of 121.
Regular readers will know that I like to keep things simple in the best Flat races and my frequently-mentioned strategy of backing horses in Group One races which are clear top-rated, with a mark above 120, has continued to pay its way.
There's been 12 qualifiers in 2016 and six of them won for a profit of 5.94pts to SP. While it didn't stop Limato losing last time out, the horse which beat him (Mecca's Angel) was just 1lb inferior so it wasn't a total shock, especially considering the top-class filly had a 3lb sex allowance.
So, on balance, I'm happy to stick to the plan and back Limato again today, which is expected to go off somewhere in the region of 2/1.
Having won this race with Twilight Son last year, Candy knows the sort it takes to land the prize although with the ground coming up better than expected, Twilight Son will now swerve this year's renewal and goes straight to the Champions Sprint as Ascot.
Limato wants good ground and Candy is expected to walk the track today before making a final decision on his participation - but just a small bit of rain is expected and it's all systems go provided the word soft does not appear in the going description.
While favourite backers were burned last time, Limato lost nothing in defeat and Mecca's Angel can be very hard to beat at five furlongs.
Both were clear of the chasing pack but I suspect Limato prefers today's six-furlong trip and on all known form, he'll take all the beating this afternoon.
Before York, he beat some decent sorts to win the July Cup at Newmarket including today's second-favourite Quiet Reflection, and there's nothing to suggest the placings will be reversed when they meet again.
Charlie Hills' Magical Memory is worth a mention having found himself behind a wall of horses in the July Cup, and could be the biggest threat to the selection if he gets a clear run.
A little earlier on the same card, I'm quite keen on Custom Cut around 6/1 in the Group Three Superior Mile Stakes (3.0).
David O'Meara's gelding usually goes well when he's prominent, so I hope to see jockey Daniel Tudhope get him out early and race close up to the pace.
While it's been over a year since his last win, he's put in some good efforts since - most notably when finishing a close third under a penalty behind Tullius in the Diomed Stakes at Epsom. More recently, he finished third in a Group Three at York and he seems reasonably consistent, making his form easy to assess.
On official ratings, he's 1lb clear of nearest rival Gabriel although Michael Stoute's Convey may present the biggest challenge today.
Convey was second in a Group Three at Goodwood last time but he struggled badly in the Hungerford Stakes and I'm not sure he has much room for improvement before the season is out.
On the all-weather at Kempton, Sky Hunter gets the nod around 10/3 ahead of favourite Arab Spring in the Totescoop6 September Stakes (3.45) for Saeed bin Suroor under jockey James Doyle.
Although the stable seems to be going through a bit of a rough patch lately, Godolphin have a very good record in this race and the selection has a Group Two win to his credit from Meydan back in March last year.
He made no impression in the Melbourne Cup last time, but he appeared a little stretched at the distance so I'm willing to overlook that run and give him a chance to bounce back today.
It's sometimes hard to stick to your guns when the horse you fancy gets chalked up as the 33/1 outsider of the field, although if you follow the market every time, you'll never have the thrill of backing a massive-priced winner.
A couple of big ones per year can make all the difference to the profit and loss column and I reckon Jack's Revenge can run much better than his outsider odds suggest in the Albert Bartlett Handicap (2.40 Ascot).
Trainer George Baker is in flying form at the moment, and the gelding slips in nicely near the bottom of the weights on a mark of 86 for a racing weight of 8st 6lbs.
A couple of years ago, this horse was rated 100 although at eight years of age, it's fair to say his best days are behind him. Still, he has something to offer at this level and he showed some of his old spark when second by a short head off a mark of 88 in a handicap at Newmarket back in May.
Admittedly, he was disappointing when last of 16 in a similar race at Goodwood last time, but he never looked comfortable from the start and I suspect something was amiss. At a big price today, he can be taken each-way.
2.40 Ascot: Jack's Revenge (e/w)
3.0 Haydock: Custom Cut
3.15 Kempton: The Last Lion
3.45 Kempton: Sky Hunter
4.30 Haydock: Limato