I’ve been in this betting game long enough to know that a lean spell can come along at any time, so I’m not one to get over-excited over a few winning wagers.
On the other hand, you do have to enjoy the good days when they come and so far, the 2022 flat season has been fairly kind to this column.
Another couple of decent-priced wins last week including Tees Spirit at 10/1 and the Derby winner Desert Crown at 5/2, has put me in a nice position going into Royal Ascot which kicks off on Tuesday, where I’ll adopt my usual conservative position of sticking with the proven form horses.
Festivals like Royal Ascot do attract the best of the best so in the non-handicaps especially, you need a very good reason to oppose the top horses in each race.
For example, backing the horse which is the clear-top on official ratings in non-handicaps at the Royal meeting produced 59 winners from 193 bets since 2008 (31pc), and a profit of 11pts to SP or 34pts to Betfair SP.
It’s not a fortune and I’m not saying that’s a hard and fast rule, but I do find the formbook is your best guide at this meeting if you’re trying to earn a slow and steady profit.
We still have a chance to build the betting pot over the weekend, and Ingra Tor might be the one to give it a boost around 9/2 for the Pavers Foundation Catherine Memorial Sprint Heritage Handicap (3.40 York).
Trained by Mick Channon, the colt has won two of his four races including his handicap debut last time out at Newmarket. Rated 82 on that occasion, he kicked clear nicely to win by just over two lengths in a race that never looked in danger, and he was well ahead of his rating in the end.
He’s up 9lbs to 91 for today, but the form of that race is working out well with runner-up Harry Three subsequently successful off that 91 rating.
At the same track, the Godolphin-owned Kemari looks set to go off as favourite for the Listed Sky Bet Race To The Ebor Grand Cup Stakes (3.05) around 5/2, but preference is for Mandoob which has just as good a chance in my view, and is better value at 11/4.
Kemari won a Group Two last year but has been below form since and may have questions to answer. Mandoob has yet to win at the top level but he was runner-up in a Listed race at Ascot recently, and is the one most likely to improve.
I’ll have two running for me at Chester, both each-way in double-figure prices. Trading at 16/1 yesterday, Bullet Force makes plenty of appeal for Karl Burke with Rossa Ryan taking the reins in the Extra Places Every Day At Betway Handicap (3.20).
A mark of 84 looks lenient having raced reasonably well off 1lb higher when fourth of 10 at York recently at 9/2, and that came on the back of a second-place at a double-figure price at Newmarket when rated 82.
The other one I like here is It's Good To Laugh, which is expected to go off in the region of 14/1 for the Edinburgh Gin Boyzlife Handicap (3.55) for Jennie Candlish under Joe Fanning. He was racing without much success until switching to this yard last year, but Candlish has found the key to him with five wins from eight races over both flat and hurdles.
He finished seventh of 14 in the Chester Cup last month rated 1lb higher than today’s 93, but it was his first race back after a 62-day break so he should be a little sharper this afternoon.
At the shorter end of the market, Clive Cox’s Caturra should prove hard to beat and is priced 11/10 at the time of writing for the Listed Coral Scurry Stakes at Sandown (2.50). He’s got the form in the book for this, and his latest loss in a Group Two is overlooked as he met trouble in-running.