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'I couldn't have him' - the views of Maddy and TC on a mega weekend's racing

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Welcome to the Punting Club! Unlike most clubs there's no joining fee or annual charge, and the only criterion for being part of the gang is simple: an appreciation for weekend punting and an enthusiasm for chewing over the big talking points.

Every Friday we – that's Punt regulars Tom Collins, Maddy Playle and Robbie Wilders (Punting Club membership numbers #1, #2 and #3, of which only two are present this week) – will answer your questions on the weekend's racing action, share our best bets . . . and ruthlessly highlight the flaws in each other's arguments. 

You can submit your questions via this link each week, but read on to see what we have to say this week . . .


Can the panel see Magical Morning winning the Cambridgeshire (3.40 Newmarket) on Saturday, thereby making Frankie Dettori joint-leading jockey of the race with four wins? James Gibson-Wynes

Maddy Backing a 6-1 favourite in a field of 30 is more TC's style than mine, James, and he'll need to be very good to defy a mark of 106 against some unexposed sorts, even with Frankie Dettori aboard. The one I like is Montather, who was luckless behind Migration in a hot race at York, but did exceptionally well to win at Chelmsford in June. Given he can race enthusiastically, I'm hopeful this scenario will enable him to settle. He's better than he's shown so far.

Tom He's far too short – if Dettori stuck to Uncle Bryn, who he was originally booked for, Magical Morning would be a double-figure price. He is drawn well, though. My original fancy, Spirit Dancer, has been taken out so I have no strong selection. Providing a middle draw isn't as bad as some people make out, Royal Marine would be the closest thing to a bet.

Royal Marine: won the Jean-Luc Lagardere as a juvenile

What do you think of Astro King in the Cambridgeshire? Tempted to have a bet as I think he has cracking form for the price. John Wood

Maddy I'm very suspicious of the race he ran in at York as they went steady and nothing from the rear had any sort of chance from a long way out. Astro King is talented and he's been running consistently in some of the big handicaps, but I'd prefer to chance one at a bigger price.

Tom Most York contests are dominated by prominent racers, so I agree with Maddy's assessment of Astro King's recent performance. He's a classic case of an overbet handicapper and he's running off 13lb higher than when last successful. I couldn't have him. 

Maddy and Tom aren't keen on Astro King's (blue and yellow) chances in the Cambridgeshire

I thought Sacred Bridge (2.25 Newmarket) was impressive at the Curragh, but how strong was the opposition? Colin Birley

Maddy As I wrote in my Weekender column a few weeks ago, I think Sacred Bridge could be this season's standout juvenile filly. That said, you're right Colin, her form isn't outstanding by any means and I'm not interested in backing her at 15-8. I'd lean towards having a few quid each-way on Have A Good Day, who is a Group 3 winner and ran well when too keen in the Prix Morny last time. Don't underestimate her as an each-way prospect at 25-1.

Tom She's four from four, so we shouldn't be doubting her yet. Saying that, Sacred Bridge hasn't beaten much (runner-up and fourth both beaten at Listed level) and I think Sandrine and Zain Claudette have stronger form claims at bigger prices. Flotus may be the value if she can build on her recent Ripon success.

Flotus: outside claims in the Cheveley Park according to Tom

Anyone know what Robbie's up to this week? Odds-on to be in Marbella, surely. JP

Maddy Good question, JP. If Robbie isn't at work he's a short price to be sunning it up in the Costa Del Sol with Wayne Lineker and pals, so consider that your first winner of the weekend.

Hi Tom and Maddy! In a big handicap, would you rather take 1/4 odds 1, 2, 3, 4 or 1/5 the odds with an extra place or two? Mikey Hobbs

Maddy Hi Mikey! A quarter of the odds, four places technically makes more financial sense but if you're getting enhanced places then you're insuring your selection somewhat. I enjoy finding a 20-1+ chance in races like the Cambridgeshire so I'd rather take the extra places. I backed Shady Operator eight places in Wednesday's Kerry National and he finished ninth – I think that says it all!

Tom I rarely bet each-way, to be honest, but you have to make use of extra places. Any enhanced terms shift the slight advantage from bookmakers to punters.


Saturday's race previews:

1.50 Newmarket: Superlative Stakes form gets tested as Masekela lines up in the Royal Lodge

2.25 Newmarket: 'I wouldn't change her for anything' – key quotes for the Cheveley Park Stakes

2.30 Curragh: exciting O'Brien juvenile Luxembourg set to show star promise in Beresford test

3.00 Newmarket: Perfect Power renews rivalry with familiar foes in top-class Middle Park

3.40 Newmarket: 'This has been his target' – Thady Gosden on yard's leading Cambridgeshire hopes

4.10 Curragh: Art Power bids for another lucrative Irish raid in Group 3 Renaissance Stakes


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Don't underestimate her as an each-way prospect at 25-1
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