Just the 75 horses running in three sprint races in which the draw remains an imponderable – and yet, and yet, we love to have a play in each of the Bronze, Silver and Ayr Gold Cups over three days of banter and bustle with the layers.
My traditional wager is an each-way patent on my main selections for the three cavalry charges and some combination tricasts to boot.
In days gone by, deep, late autumnal ground was the way of the world at the West of Scotland track, but in recent years that hasn’t been the case. We return to the norm this year with day one having been called off following heavy rain, but Friday and Saturday almost certain to go ahead.
The best handicapped charger in the Gold Cup on Saturday and at the head of my private ratings by a clear margin is the Mick Channon-trained Mobsta.
Earlier in the season, the selection was only beaten a shade over five lengths by Tasleet in the Duke of York Stakes at the Knavesmire and his handicap mark has since dropped from 106 to 98.
His run in the Stewards Cup at Goodwood can be safely consigned to the dust bust after being badly hampered in the opening exchanges.
However, his staying on third to Tommy Taylor in a Listed handicap at York last time out showed that his turn is not too far away.
His draw in box number three is of course an imponderable, but with plenty of speed on the far side and the ground in his favour I am more than happy to row in with the 20/1 currently on offer.
Dangers, well how long have you got? I suspect Shanghai Glory will go off a fairly tight favourite around the 5/1 mark following two desperately unlucky runs in the Stewards Cup and Great St Wilfrid, while I will be combining him, Mobsta and Donjuan Triumphant and last year’s ninth, Aeolus, in a combination forecast and tricast wager.
The Bronze Cup on Friday (3.50) should give us plenty of clues with the draw and I am really sweet on the claims of Toofi.
Fourth of 25 off a mark of 102 in the 2015 Ayr Gold Cup, he has plummeted down the weights to his current rating of 84, but a recent second at Haydock behind Hyperfocus puts him right in the mix here.
He comes out second on my private ratings behind the enigmatic Paddy Power and Roaring Forties.
The last named is a cracking forecast mixer if he can stay in touch through the first half of the race; nothing will be finishing off better.
The Silver Cup on Saturday (2.35) looks the most difficult of the trio with four speedsters sharing the top marks on my private ratings.
Of those, old Heaven’s Guest is the most intriguing dropping back to 6f for the first time since May 2016. He was actually fourth in this race way back in 2014!!!
But the each-way call goes to Naggers at the top of the weights. Paul Midgley’s charge was a most impressive winner of a Thirsk handicap earlier in the season off 85 but in three races since, good ground has been far from suitable.
Back on turf with plenty of give, I expect he will bounce back to form and gets the nod over Richard Fahey’s veteran and the in-form Muntadab and the underrated course and distance winner Classic Seniority.
And finally, a word on last week’s St Leger with a view to the future. Paddy Power have installed the winner, Capri, at 6/1 for next year’s Ascot Gold Cup, but Rekindling, a never-nearer fourth, looks more like the out and out stayer you need to have on your side.
At the time of writing the 14/1 looks solid value in a race that Aidan O’Brien and co love to farm.