I wouldn't be the biggest follower or connoisseur of all-weather racing – hold that thought – so I will certainly be keeping stakes towards the minimum on the ITV Good Friday fare at Lingfield and Newcastle.
Anyway, let's crack on, starting with the Lingfield races in chronological order.
Strong on Suzi
Now that I have teed you up so cutely, I can now exclusively reveal my selection in the opener at 13:30 – and, if you haven't guessed it, it is no less than Suzi's Connoisseur at 20/1 each way, four places, with the Betfair Sportsbook.
Paddy Bradley won this race on a 33/1 poke in 2017 and he has another decent outside chance with the selection, who has been running well over 5f/6f of late since being raised 10lb after bolting up by 4 lengths here in December on his debut for his in-form current yard.
It could be argued that he left this race behind when he won so easily over 6f in December, but at least he has been eased 2lb since and he has won off a 15lb higher mark than this in the past.
The major drawback is that he is drawn 13 of 14, but he is a hold-up performer who would have needed plenty of luck anyway – luck is the key winning component at this meeting – and I like the angle of him stepping up to 7f for the first time for Jane Chapple-Hyam.
His best efforts have all come over that distance, and I fancy him to get closer than he has done in the two runnings of this contest; he may have finished in midfield in both races, but he was never beaten by more than 3 lengths on either occasion.
If, and it is a big if, he gets a relatively trouble-free passage, then he won't be far away.
The Marathon favourite
In the Marathon at 14:00, Amade is the first of the three shorties on the card – alongside Wissahickon and Kachy – and you have to say that the French winning machine will take plenty of stopping on the evidence of his last two victories at Kempton and Chelmsford. I don't have many grumbles about his price at around 5/4.
If you are looking for an each-way play against him then Watersmeet is my idea of the most likely alternative, having finished runner-up in 2017 and third, beaten a nose and a neck, last year.
But he may not get his own way out in front with a couple of pace rivals. The favourite looks a stand-out and it's a competitive-enough heat for the places, so I can leave the race alone.
I was going to take a chance with Clon Coulis in the 7f Fillies' and Mares' Championship at 14:30, as she is just about the best horse in the race, a mere 1lb shy of the top-rated Rasima, and twice the price of that one (Island Of Life, rated the same as Clon Coulis, heads the market at 7/2).
The problem is that everything needs to fall right for her from stall 10 of 12, not least the fact that this hold-up performer is better at a mile and she will really need a break-neck pace to aim at over 7f. And there aren't that many forward-goers in here.
It could well happen and she could swoop home in the shadows of the post after a charmed run, with the pace dying around her – that sounds like the final scene of a romantic film starring the latest pretty boy on the block – but it will take some engineering from Jamie Spencer. Heavenly Holly is the other one in here that caught my eye, but she is in 12.
Kachy is more your point-and-shoot job in the 6f sprint at 15:05, and he is predictably odds-on to hit the target.
He is the clear form-choice and is devastating on his day and he comes into this race on the back of two screamers, but there is a fair bit of depth to this race and it is worth remembering that he went off 11/8 in an eight-runner renewal of this last season, and got chinned late doors by City Light.
Granted, City Light did turn out to be a Group 1 performer though, beaten a mere short-head in the Diamond Jubilee weeks later, and you have to say that Kachy will take plenty of stopping if trapping well from stall eight.
If there is a horse who could put it up to him late on it may be Portland runner-up Encrypted, who signed off last season with a Listed win here, and he is a fair each-way alternative at around 7/1. But, again, there is a lot of competition for places, so the betting appeal is limited.
Charming kid not in a charming place
Dundalk winner Charming Kid looks good in the 3yo 6f race at 15:40, or rather he did until he drew stall 12 of 12, so I am going to take a chance on Quiet Endeavour from trap two.
He hasn't really kicked on from notching up a four-timer last summer but he hasn't run badly on his last two starts, and this front-runner could prove a major force if the first-time blinkers sharpen him up. Admittedly, the stable record with this headgear move – 4 from 28 – isn't bet-inducing in isolation, though it isn't bad by any means.
He shaped well over 7f here two starts ago, and looks a big enough price at [15.0] to lure me in. It is worth remembering that he was rated 101 after that winning spree, and that would make him the highest-rated horse in here. The Archie Watson stable continues in flying form.
I am not going to try and oppose Wissahickon in the 1m2f Easter Classic at 16:15, as he does look a cut above these. The price, as ever, reflects his likely dominance.
Cardsharp initially looked reasonably enticing in the 16:45, but the combination of the 1m trip and his wide draw put me off in the final analysis.
Born to be Brave
There are also two races from Newcastle and, to be honest, it is a track that I rarely bet at.
The 3yo Listed race at 15:20, looks an absolute minefield to me but Island Brave looks plenty big enough at 16/1 each way, four places, in the 1m4f handicap at 15:55.
He got this race in the stewards' room last season after being beaten by a nose, and he ran some good races thereafter, finishing fifth in the Northumberland Plate (off this mark) and winning well at Nottingham.
He is 5lb higher than last year but that seems very fair and he shaped really well when fourth on his comeback run, just losing out for second spot in a photo.
His record suggests that he comes on appreciably for a run, so everything looks in place for a bold show – maybe not the draw in 12, though – for a small but highly-capable stable that had a winner at Kempton last week.
Id' be lying if I said I knew much about his 7lb claimer Scott McCullagh but he has had 50 rides this season, and 10 have won, with another 16 placed, so he can't be too bad.
William Haggas's Big Kitten is the one I like most at the top of the market.
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