Wayne Bailey: In-form Magnus Maximus set to conquer at Ayr
I once heard it said that a bookie shop is a place where the windows clean people, and so it proved for many of those betting on the Irish Champion Stakes last week where the 2/1 favourite Harzand finished eighth of the 12 runners.
It was a disappointing end to a good day for this column which included a win for Sayesse at Chester (12/1), and the fact that I had broke even as the Saturday sun settled which meant it was a classic case of not staking enough on my winner, and too much on my loser.
Finding decent-priced winners in this game is just one part of the puzzle; the other is getting your staking right - but I've had plenty of worse days so I won't complain, and I was glad to hear Dermot Weld say this week that Harzand is still on track for the Arc.
It seems that his leg took a bit of a knock at Leopardstown when a horse bumped into him, causing some lameness, but Weld reckons he'll be fit before the Arc, which takes place at Chantilly this year as Longchamp is under construction.
This time last week, Harzand was 5/1 for the French showpiece but he's double that today, with Postponed still heading the ante-post market at 7/2. I can't find much value there at the moment and at this stage, I think it's best to wait until the day to have a bet.
Having been spoiled with top quality racing last week, we have to settle for some Group Two and Group Three action this afternoon but there seems to be a bit of value out there, including the handicaps.
In particular, I'm keen on Magnus Maximus in the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup (3.45), available at 10/1 yesterday evening. Trained by former jockey Robyn Brisland, it would be a big win for the rookie handler who took over from Nick Littmoden earlier this year.
Brisland has already sent out 11 winners from 68 runners, and his charge is in great order having easily absorbed an 8lb rise in the weights to win a second handicap in-a-row off 101 at Ascot earlier this month.
Racing off 93 today, he's still a few pounds well-in, even with an 8lb penalty, and he appears to have room to improve which is the key to these big-field handicaps.
This horse is best when he gets out early and makes the running, so fingers crossed jockey Harry Bentley (below) can break well and get into a prominent position. The vibes from the yard are good and Brisland has described the five-year-old as a straightforward sort, with which he couldn't be happier.
The main race of the day is the Group Two Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury (2.15), for which Mokarris was the even-money favourite yesterday afternoon before heavy rain caused trainer Simon Crisford to scratch his entry from the card.
A new market was formed and Richard Hannon's Legendary Lunch appears to be attracting most of the attention around 10/3 which seems reasonably fair and will carry my money. Rated 105 today, the colt was cool in the betting for the Group Two Flying Childers at Doncaster at 25/1 last time, but ran surprisingly well at those odds to finish second, having traded as low as 8/13 in-running on the exchanges.
While that race was over 5f, he's better over this afternoon's 6f trip and if he runs anywhere near to that form, he'll be hard to beat.
The big danger is Global Applause, which finished narrowly ahead of the selection in the Norfolk Stakes at Ascot in June but that was also over 5f, and the placings can be reversed today.
Later, Cotai Glory ticks the right boxes for me around 7/2 in the Group Three Dubai International Airport World Trophy Stakes (3.25 Newbury), despite the fact that he's gone seven races without a win.
That last success was in a Listed contest at Doncaster in September but his best piece of form came in the Group One King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot this year, in which he finished a neck second to Profitable at 33/1 on softer ground.
Charlie Hills' colt has mostly raced on better ground since but has been rather disappointing - so it will be interesting to see how he handles the going today which is described as soft to heavy at the time of writing.
Racing off a mark of 90 and due to go up 2lbs, William Haggas' Muzdawaj slips in nicely down near the bottom of the weights in the Dubai Duty Free Handicap (2.50) and I'll be very disappointed if he doesn't land a place at the least, priced in the region of 8/1.
He was second off this rating in a handicap at Haydock last time which is certainly no shame considering jockey Paul Hanagan left him with too much to do, and I've no doubt Hanagan will have learned a lesson and employ different tactics this time around.
A versatile sort, he won his previous race on good-to-firm over this course and distance just over a month ago but he's also got winning form on soft ground so he should be able to handle the underfoot conditions.
1.45 Newbury: Dartmouth
2.0 Ayr: Bletchley
2.15 Newbury: Legendary Lunch
2.50 Newbury: Muzdawaj (e/w)
3.25 Newbury: Cotai Glory
3.45 Ayr: Magnus Maximus
Do the double
Ryan Moore can steer Dartmouth to victory in the Group Three Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup Stakes (1.45 Newbury). Owned by the Queen of England, Sir Michael Stoute's colt carries a 5lb penalty but he's stepping down in class and can get back on track at around 15/8 following his third place in the King George.
I was hoping to find a decent bet for the All-Ireland final tomorrow but with Dublin priced at 4/11 and Mayo 10/3, I reckon the market has this about right and we look elsewhere for value. In the Premier League Manchester United look solid at 4/6 to beat a Watford side which have been leaking goals. Walter Mazzarri and his men are lucky to be sitting mid-table having conceded eight times already this term.