I was saddened to hear about the death of racing broadcaster and journalist John McCririck, at the age of 79. McCririck wasn't everyone's cup of tea, and would find life hard in today's world where everyone is perpetually offended-but he brought plenty of colour to a sport which can be stuffy at times.
McCririck was let go from Channel 4 in 2012, but as TV becomes very safe and bland you'd miss characters like McCririck. I used to particularly like his commentary on odds, bookmaking and the betting side of things, which are often overlooked - even though betting is what fuels the sport of racing. He was on the side of the punter, often challenging bookmakers about their high over-rounds live on air.
For people like me who grew up in the 80s watching racing, he was for many years the most recognisable person in the sport, and I have fond memories of those days, watching the TV with my father and learning about the fascinating world of odds and betting. I particularly liked the tic-tac sign language and slang, which was once a big part of bookmaking but is sadly almost gone with technology taking over. So it was hard to see McCririck on TV recently looking very ill and gaunt.
For a man who gave so much to this business, it was depressing to hear him say that his life was empty without racing - and with TV racing audiences nothing like they used to be, you'd wonder about the wisdom of giving less air time to people like McCririck, who are different or eccentric.
I've no time for all that Celebrity Big Brother stuff he got involved with, but I missed him in the racing world over the last few years and may he rest in peace.
Back to the racing itself, and I'm a big fan of the Coral-Eclipse (3.35 Sandown), the race which allows the Classic generation three-year-olds to take on the older horses. This year though, we've just one three-year-old, namely Telecaster, which was last in the Epsom Derby, having beat Too Darn Hot in the Dante previously.
He just didn't settle in the Derby and I don't think it would be fair to judge him on that run - although I don't fancy his chances today against Enable, and his early odds of 14/1 look about right.
Of course, Enable will be odds-on but John Gosden's mare is impossible to oppose under Frankie Dettori, having won 10 of her 11 races, including the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe twice.
A brilliant mare, she has seven Group One victories under her belt and was last seen winning the Breeders' Cup Turf at Churchill Downs, the first horse to follow up an Arc win with that race.
A daughter of Nathaniel, which won this race in 2012, she gets a sex allowance of 3lbs which makes her even more appealing. Although, as mentioned, she'll be very short so no one will get rich backing her today. The only worry is that she hasn't been seen since that Breeders' Cup win in November, but I've no doubt that Gosden will have her finely tuned here, having swerved Royal Ascot to give her a bit more time to get into shape.
Of the rest, Aidan O'Brien's Magical looks the biggest danger to the favourite. Second to Enable in the Breeders' Cup Turf, she meets her rival again on less favourable weight terms, having been in receipt of 4lbs last time out so it's hard to see how she can reverse the placings.
She was also beaten into second place when last seen in the Prince of Wales's Stakes recently, so today's odds of 3/1 seem a little tight. It looks like the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is Enable's main target once again, but she can pick up today's substantial prize money along the way.
For something at a bigger price, consider backing Caspian Prince, which was trading at 13/2 yesterday evening for the five-furlong Group Three Coral Charge Sprint Stakes, also at Sandown (1.50).
One of the older horses in the field aged 10, he's got a good strike rate with 19 wins from 88 runs, and while he's now gone five races without success, his ninth place of 19 in a handicap at Epsom last time was a lot better than it looks on paper, and the finish was tight enough.
The draw here is not ideal, but he likes to take the lead - so if Oisin Murphy can get him out early and into the action, I'm convinced he'll be fighting it out at the finish. Aidan O'Brien's Sergei Prokofiev is the likely favourite around 11/4 and has claims dropping down in class, having made little impression in the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot last time.
At Haydock, I reckon the 11/4 available in the early markets for Dramatic Queen is a pretty good deal in the Bet365 Lancashire Oaks (2.40). She beat today's likely favourite Enbihaar in a Group Three at York last time, and I'm surprised the market has Enbihaar ahead today.