Wayne Bailey: Koditime can take step up to Listed level
It's a relatively quiet day on the racing front with a couple of Listed races at York and Sandown as the features - although you could say it's the calm before the storm with plenty of top-class action in store at Royal Ascot, which kicks off on Tuesday.
As usual, I'll keep it simple during the week, and regular readers will know that my advice in the top flat meetings is to back the best horses.
That might sound extremely simplistic, but far too often we can complicate the business of betting on horses by looking for an unusual angle, and miss what is staring us in the face.
For example, simply backing horses rated above 120 at Royal Ascot has produced 26 winners from 64 bets (41pc) since 2008, and had you stuck a tenner on each, you'd be €190 better off today. While mostly at the shorter end of the market, prices can be decent enough at times and the four winners from seven bets last year were all odds-against, namely Highland Reel (9/4), Le Brivdo (2/1), Lady Aurelia (7/2) and Ribchester (11/10).
While it's always worth doing extra research before placing a wager as there are never any certainties, that strategy is not a bad starting point for those who might be pushed for time but want to have a couple of decent bets throughout the week.
I'll also lay a few horses on the exchanges, and while doing some research on headgear, I noticed that horses wearing blinkers have a very poor record at Royal Ascot. So proceed with a lot of caution if you are thinking of backing one of those.
Since 2008, there's been 11 winners from 247 runners with blinkers (4pc) and had you layed each one with a tenner, you'd show a profit of €430 (based on Betfair SP).
The problem here is that many runners have high prices, which could cause a lot of damage in the event of a win such as Invisible Man in 2010 under Frankie Dettori. That one went off at 28/1 with the bookmakers but had a Betfair SP of 57.0.
You certainly don't want to be caught out with something like that - but it was still profitable to lay blinkered horses during that period which were priced 10/1 or less on Betfair, with just five winners from 45 bets and a lay profit of €169 to a €10 stake.
Anyhow, back to matters at hand, and I reckon Koditime is a solid bet to give the Royal Ascot punting pot a boost in this afternoon's Listed Randox Health Scurry Stakes (2.05 Sandown), priced around 11/4.
The Clive Cox-trained colt caught the eye when a head-second to Cowboy Soldier in a competitive handicap at Windsor last time, having previously won a 15-runner handicap at York. He's got more to come and a Listed race is within his reach.
At York, Marmelo gets the nod at 9/4 or thereabouts in the Sky Bet Grand Cup Stakes (3.0) for Hughie Morrison under Ryan Moore. A son of Duke Of Marmalade, the five-year-old has some decent form in the book including a Group Two win in the Prix Kergorlay at Deauville.
He was slightly disappointing when ninth in the Melbourne Cup, but looked back near his best when a neck-second to the talented Vazirabad in the Group Two Prix Vicomtesse Vigier at Longchamp on his seasonal reappearance last month. He's down in class here and should be hard to beat.
For something at a bigger price, consider Marechal Ney which was trading at 4/1 yesterday evening in the Randox Health British EBF Maiden Stakes at Sandown (5.0). John Gosden's charge met with trouble on his debut when finishing mid-division here recently, but the son of Frankel is almost certain to improve.
Aside from racing, we'll have plenty of betting opportunities over the next few weeks with the World Cup, and I'm having a punt on Belgium to make it as far as the semi-finals, available at 9/4 at the time of writing.
Brazil, Germany, France, Spain and Argentina all look capable of winning the competition, but Belgium are in with a decent shout too and should go close.
While they've yet to do the business in a top competition, there's plenty of talent in this particular squad and I can see them topping Group G, ahead of England.
Their best result to date in the World Cup was reaching the semi-finals in 1986, and I'm confident they can go at least as far as that this time around.
Available at 25/1 in the early markets, Consequences looks overpriced in the Pavers Foundation Catherine Memorial Sprint Handicap (3.35 York).
Once rated 95, today's mark of 88 seems quite lenient after a decent fourth behind Cowboy Soldier and Koditime in the aforementioned Windsor handicap.
2.05 Sandown: Koditime
3.0 York: Marmelo
3.15 Sandown: Chiefofchiefs
3.35 York: Consequences (e/w)
5.0 Sandown: Marechal Ney