Betting ring: Limini well-in at these weights
By their very nature, handicaps are among the most tricky type of race to figure out, with the better horses carrying more weight to give every animal an equal chance.
That's the theory at least, and it's often said that a handicapper's dream would be to have each horse cross the line at the same time as it means he's allocated the correct weight to each horse.
Of course, there are many other variables that affect a horse's chances to ensure that doesn't happen, but weight carried is still one of the most important factors to consider in handicap races.
I've mentioned numerous times on these pages how you can sometimes beat the system as handicap ratings, which determine the weight a horse carries, are published weekly.
This means that a horse which returns to racing very quickly before the new ratings are implemented can run off its old rating, sometimes with a penalty. This can be significant if the horse performed well last time as it could be due to go up in the ratings.
That happens to be the case today with Limini, which was second to stablemate Uradel under Patrick Mullins in the Connacht Hotel (QR) Handicap on Monday. Willie Mullins's mare has a quick turnaround and has an entry for this evening's Guinness Handicap (6.50), and although quite short in the betting at 2/1, that price is justified at these weights.
The 2016 Cheltenham Dawn Run Mares' Hurdle winner was back on the Flat for the first time since leaving France in 2014, and is due to go up to 100 in the ratings based on Monday's second place, leaving her 'well-in'.
She gets to race off her old rating of 89 today under jockey Kevin Manning, so she's considerably better off at the weights than in normal circumstances. Mullins has a strong hand in this race and Limini's stablemate Gustavus Vassa should be thereabouts, although I suspect the top-weight burden will mean he'll have to settle for minor honours.
At Goodwood, Battaash is my idea of a banker in the Group Two King George Qatar Stakes (3.35). This will be my biggest bet of the week, around 11/10, and with a rating of 122, Charlie Hills' gelding is 10lbs clear of his nearest rival on official ratings although the race conditions and penalties mean he'll carry more weight than the rest with 9st 5lbs.
One of the best five-furlong specialists in the business, he won this race last year on soft, but he's also got good form on faster ground and should handle today's conditions quite easily. He wasn't disgraced when runner-up to Blue Point in the Group One King's Stand at Royal Ascot last time, and I was expecting him to be odds-on. Good value can be found at both ends of the market, and I reckon an odds-against price for Battaash is a cracking deal.
Earlier on that card, consider backing Threading in the Group Three Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes (2.25), which is expected to go off around 3/1. The Mark Johnston-trained filly was second-last in the Group One Falmouth last time but she never goes well at Newmarket, so that effort is overlooked. A Group Two winner in August and runner-up in the Group One Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, this race should be well within her range.
Getting back to Galway, Coral Beach is the tentative selection in the opening Flat Maiden (5.10), priced around 11/4. Aidan O'Brien's filly has become a little frustrating to follow and was runner-up on three occasions including a Fairyhouse maiden in which she traded at the basement price of 1/100 in-running on Betfair. She needs a step up in trip, so today might be the day she finally gets off the mark.
For those searching for a Galway each-way outsider, have a look at People's Park, which should be a big price for the Guinness Galway Blazers Handicap Chase (7.55). His rating was hovering around 126 and 127 for some time but it looks like the handicapper is finally cutting him a bit of slack, and he may just scrape a place with a bit of luck in-running off 124 today.
With the favourite Wicklow Brave as short at 1/4 yesterday, I won't be having a bet in the Rockshore Race (7.25) although it's hard to see past Willie Mullins's dual-purpose gelding. Rated 108, he's got loads in hand over his four rivals on all known form.
2.25 Goodwood: Threading
3.35 Goodwood: Battaash
5.10 Galway: Coral Beach
6.50 Galway: Limini
7.55 Galway: People's Park (ew)
8.25 Galway: Political Party
Lay of the Day
LURE OF THE SEA, 6.15 GALWAY
Being a daughter of Sea The Stars, Lure Of The Sea was quite popular in the betting for her debut maiden at the Curragh, going off at 2/1 behind the favourite and eventual winner Tissiak.
While she shaped reasonably well, she looks a little short around 5/4 for today's Guinness Irish EBF Fillies' Maiden, a race in which a number of others have realistic chances.
Her trainer Dermot Weld finally got a winner at the Festival yesterday with Yulong Gold Fairy, but it's a far cry from the old days where you could almost back his horses blindly, and make a decent profit for the week. In 2011, for example, he had an incredible 17 winners from 39 runners.
Aidan O'Brien hasn't had a huge amount of luck this year either, but Queen Iseult looks dangerous here. She's gone close a number of times now and her experience might prove advantageous this evening.
She's Got Fast is another promising filly which can't be ruled out. She was staying on when third to Weld's Falcon Eight at the Curragh recently, and is expected to come on for the run.
She's Gold also ran well on her debut, and this race is more open than the market suggests.