'Twilight' can follow up Ascot win in July Cup
The term start from scratch is commonly used in everyday English and it usually means to go back to the beginning or to start afresh.
Quite a number of sports lay claim to the origins of the phrase including golf, boxing and cricket - and while the etymology is debatable, I did read one convincing explanation which relates to racing.
Apparently, the starting point for some horse races during medieval times was at a line scratched into the ground, usually with a sword. If the participants cheated by cutting corners or deviating from the course throughout the race, they would have to go back and begin again from the scratch in the ground.
While it would be an wild exaggeration to say he gets to start from scratch today, Air Force Blue at least gets another chance to repair his disintegrating reputation in the six-furlong Group One Darley July Cup at Newmarket (4.35), for which he's available at 10/1 in the early markets.
The best juvenile around last season, Aidan O'Brien's colt was a shadow of his former self in his two outings this term and while better ground should help his cause today, he's certainly got a mountain to climb at this stage.
Still, his handler has pulled off some remarkable training feats before and I think most genuine racing fans would like to see the colt at least give a good account of himself.
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Charlie Hills' Magical Memory won here before and should be thereabouts at 5/1. He beat a number of these to win a Group Two at York including today's likely favourite Twilight Son, although that horse reversed the form last time in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot and gets the nod today, priced in the region of 9/2.
The Diamond Jubilee was a little muddling and with quite a few international raiders taking part, it's difficult to get a handle on just how strong the form of that race actually was. But the selection could only do what he was asked and as an individual performance, it has to be up there with one of his best.
Henry Candy's colt is a six-furlong specialist having only raced at this distance, and while he'd probably prefer the ground a little softer, he did win on good-to-firm as a three-year-old.
Stablemate Limato might be the biggest threat to the bet around 11/2. His stamina seemed stretched at a mile in the Lockinge Stakes last time but it at least served to shake off the cobwebs and I expect to see a sharper horse this afternoon.
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Clive Cox won this with Lethal Force in 2013 so Profitable deserves a positive mention. The four-year-old has been supplemented for this race and won the five-furlong King's Stand Stakes at Ascot last time out.
Earlier at Ascot, Toormore will be warm in the betting for the Group Two Fred Cowley MBE Memorial Summer Mile Stakes (3.15) but preference is for Kodi Bear which is expected to go off around 9/2. The favourite must concede weight all around and could struggle when the going gets tough although in fairness, he's a consistent sort and is bound to go close.
Kodi Bear has been a little rusty in his two Group One races this term but Clive Cox's four-year-old seemed a little out of his depth, and this level might be a bit more realistic for where he's at right now.
The last time a horse aged six or older won the John Smith's Cup Handicap at York (4.15), Neil Armstrong was a just about to set foot on the moon (1969). So if you are the type to follow such stats, you can rule out over half a dozen older horses from today's 20-runner field.
One animal which does tick the right boxes for me is Arthenus, which was available at 8/1 yesterday evening. Although quite young aged four, James Fanshawe's gelding has become a smart handicapper and showed he handles the course well when landing a competitive contest here back in May off a mark of 92.
He was subsequently raised to 100 and has had mixed results in his three races since, although his latest outing at Ascot when fourth to Sir Isaac Newton was promising in first-time cheekpieces which seemed to aid his concentration.
This time around, he's in a visor for the first time and I reckon jockey Frederik Tylicki can nab a place at the very least on the son of Dutch Art, which is still racing off a mark of 100.
* Last week's selections included Light Up Our World, which won at 20/1
3.15 Ascot: Kodi Bear
4.0 Newmarket: South Seas
4.10 Chester: Master Blueyes
4.15 York: Arthenus (e/w)
4.35 Newmarket: Twilight Son