Charlie McCann of with the weekend’s best racing bets

Charlie McCann of with the weekend’s best racing bets

The ground was as described a mix of good to soft with soft places on the opening day (Thursday) of Newmarket’s Cambridgeshire Meeting and the track avoided much of Friday morning’s heavy rain that swept across the country.

The Cambridgeshire is one of the biggest flat handicaps in the racing calendar and this annual 35-runner cavalry charge is always a tough puzzle to solve. My two against the field from a very long shortlist are Big Country and Chelsea Lad (3.35) with marginal preference for the latter who is drawn toward the far rail in stall ten.

The selection has not gone on as many expected so far this season but met trouble at a vital stage of the race at York last time and that run is best ignored. The selection was gelded before that run and after just seven career starts remains open to further improvement. At 16/1 with BetVictor I would be disappointed if he did not run well and he gets the each way vote – note BetVictor are playing five places.

At Chester, I am very sweet on the chances of Ayutthaya (2.30) who can take advantage of the 6lbs he receives from the penalised Book Of Dreams in the opener. The colt travelled like a very good animal when runner up at York last time behind Elarqam who franked the form in no uncertain terms at Newmarket earlier in the week. The selection is drawn in stall three and his two big rivals are drawn inside him with Book Of Dreams in two and the once-raced Gabrial The Saint in one. Make no mistake this is a very good juvenile event.

In the last Caravela (5.25) steps up in trip on her handicap debut for Mick Channon and her dam won over today’s ten furlong trip so the lightly-raced selection has every chance of improving for today’s extra quarter of a mile. The one negative is that she has been slowly away on at least a couple of occasions and she can’t afford to do that in this competitive handicap.

At Market Rasen Mountain Path (2.45) can go one better than when second at Worcester on her first start over timber for Jonjo O’Neill. The selection won a Bumper at Wetherby when trained by Micky Hammond before disappointing at Aintree in their prestigious Mares’ Bumper at the Grand National Meeting.

Late Night Lily must go close in the listed hurdle race but Cloonacool (3.35) won this corresponding race two years ago from a 7lbs higher mark and the handicapper has certainly given him a chance in his first-time cheek-pieces with Paddy Brennan in the saddle.

There is plenty of pace in the listed handicap chase and I just wonder if Tom O’Brien will play his hand late on Poker School (4.30) for the excellent Ian Williams. The selection finished runner up to Abidjan at Worcester last time and that effort has been franked by the subsequent success of the third.

The Arc from Chantilly is Sunday’s highlight on a quite magnificent flat racing card. We have been waxing lyrical about Enable since she did us a big favour in the Oaks back in June and she cannot be opposed in what doesn’t look a vintage renewal of what for me is the greatest flat race in the world.

Do watch out for Swiss Storm (3.45) at Epsom on Sunday for David Elsworth. I was very taken with the Frankel colt when he won at Newbury on his second start as a juvenile this time last year, but he has only seen the track once since when disappointing in the Dante over 10 furlongs. The selection drops back to an extended mile tomorrow and if more amenable to restraint could be well treated off a mark of 89.

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