This Saturday must constitute some kind of record with 38 of the 42 races on the Flat in Britain and Ireland being either handicaps, maidens or novice events.
There’s not a Group race in sight, while none of the 15 jump races at Hexham and Worcester carry a first prize of much more than £5,000.
Anybody would think there is a big meeting just around the corner.
Jockeys remain limited to riding at one meeting and a couple with title ambitions are heading in unusual directions to stay in the groove before Royal Ascot next week.
William Buick skips Sandown and York for six rides who will all be prominent in the betting at Leicester’s evening card, while Hollie Doyle has a full book of rides at Bath.
Us punters are not limited to one card and I’ve got four tips to consider on a trappy day. I don’t often play each-way but a safety net may be required on this occasion.
1.20 Bath: Lady Elysia at 11-2 with William Hill
Decora did me a favour when winning at Salisbury earlier in the week and, clearly in rude health, is likely to make a bold bid to follow up under her penalty. However, that race panned out perfectly for her hold-up style and with no habitual front-runners in this line-up I’m not sure this will develop in the same way.
In any case, she might struggle to contain Lady Elysia, a mare who has chalked up two wins on fast going at this venue in September. She was back in that kind of form when beaten a nose at Brighton last time after being well-backed and Georgia Dobie, on board for each of her three career wins, is reunited with her.
Lady Elysia also usually races prominently, which will be an advantage if there is a lack of a gallop.
Her consistent Brighton conqueror, Foresee, runs in the 6.45 at Leicester and should also go well.
2.15 Sandown: Steel Bull at 8-1 with Ladbrokes
Atalis Bay is the right favourite as he has a progressive profile and pulled clear of the third when chasing home the impressive Winter Power at York last time. The winner is a leading contender for the King’s Stand Stakes on Tuesday.
However, there’s not much room for error in his price – he’s a general 6-4 – and at the prices I’d much prefer to be with 8-1 chance Steel Bull, who won the Molecomb with authority last year and was subsequently not beaten far in a hot renewal of the Flying Childers when hampered in the closing stages.
He signed off the year with a dull effort on the all-weather and was well-held on his return in the mud at Naas but you can easily forgive both those efforts on account of the surface; plus the market forewarned hinted that he was going to be short of peak fitness on his return.
Back on quicker ground with a run under his belt, this race should help reveal whether the Irish challenger retains his juvenile ability. A first-time tongue-tie is also worth noting.
3.40 York: Blind Beggar at 14-1 with BetVictor
This is always a highly competitive sprint although I’m not sure this year’s running contains a future Group One winner such as in 2015 when Twilight Son won off a rating of 94.
Tim Easterby has won five renewals since 2002 and his Showalong rates a big player, as does the promising Dark Shift, who makes his handicap bow. However, neither have been missed in the betting and I’m happy to take them on with the Richard Fahey-trained Blind Beggar, who is chalked up at 12-1 with Bet Victor and 10-1 with Sky Bet, who go seven places.
He showed useful form as a two-year-old but has looked much-improved in his two races on turf this season – chasing home the now 106-rated Twilight Spinner in a maiden at Ripon (pair eight lengths clear) before romping home by nine lengths in a good time in a similar race at Catterick last time.
Blind Beggar looks versatile regards the ground and a mark of 85 looks lenient. I also like his low draw in 5 as the past five winners have been berthed on the far side (none higher than stall 7) and he’s near Showalong (7) and Dark Shift (2).
5.25 York: Lady Nectar at 14-1 with bet365
She progressed well from a rating last year and her comeback win at Thirsk was easy on the eye as she swooped from off the pace to win more convincingly than the winning margins suggested. Watch a replay above.
I thought she’d follow up in a fair contest at Hamilton last time but she had been off six weeks and was friendless in the betting. Her market weakness did not prevent her again travelling strongly and she ran on well enough for third but she didn’t get the strongest of rides and seemed to finish with more left in the tank.
Lady Nectar’s got a new jockey on this occasion (Shane Kelly) and I’m hoping Sun Power, who is feared most, and the in-form Mr Wagyu will ensure plenty of pace among those drawn on the far side, like she is in stall 1. The previously frustrating George Bowen will be popular after his easy win in midweek but he was a place behind Lady Nectar in that Hamilton contest and is 3lb worse off.
How To Bet £20 on Saturday
1.20 Bath: Lady Elysia £1.50 win and £1 each-way at 11-2 with William Hill
1.20 Bath: £1 Reverse Exacta Lady Elysia and Decora
2.15 Sandown: Steel Bull £1.50 win and £1 each-way at a general 13-2
3.40 York: Blind Beggar £2 win at 14-1 with Bet Victor and £1.50 each-way at 10-1 with Sky Bet (seven places)
5.25 York: Lady Nectar £2 win and £2 each-way at 14-1 with bet365 OPTION TWO
65p Each-Way Lucky 15 plus a 25p each-way fourfold
1.20 Bath: Lady Elysia
2.15 Sandown: Steel Bull
3.40 York: Blind Beggar
5.25 York: Lady Nectar
Select any odd to add a bet