THREE WINNING DAYS OUT OF FOUR: Daqman bombed yesterday but is 44 points up on the week so far. He has a bet at each of the four meetings today.

10 WINNING LAYS OUT OF 11: He will be starting a new series of lays tomorrow after his latest sequence – 10 in a row – was blighted at the weekend.

Hanagan 9, De Sousa 7, Fallon 4. Oh yes, and Hughes 0. These are today’s rides as tension mounts in the jockeys’ title race, De Sousa and Fallon now level peggings, just eight behind Hanagan.

I’ve said enough about the whips tragedy (for tragedy it is, for our sport): suffice it to say that, in a civilized society, you can no more whip human beings and get away with it than you can whip animals.

Richard Hughes will be missed on the big day tomorrow and in the Breeders Cup.

The proof of the pudding about the new rules is in the eating: Hughes has never been a ‘whip jockey’ but there he is, the number-one target, the end of his season in ruins, and ours the less for it.

It is also a blank day for Ryan Moore, who is said to have confirmed that he will be riding as stable jockey at Ballydoyle next season, quitting his association with Sir Michael Stoute.

With Fallon at only one meeting, De Sousa could well overtake him today, but – though I recently found stats to support Fallon’s claim to the title – neither seems able to dislodge Hanagan at this crucial stage.

The comfort for his opponents is that Hanagan’s mainstay, trainer Richard Fahey, has dropped to a low-level strike rate, requiring 50 runners for his last five winners.

He’s not noted for first-time two-year-old winners, though Hawks Reef (3.10) and Going Grey (3.45) seemingly have little to beat on the debut at Redcar, but Kevin Ryan is.

Ryan has had a great season with his juveniles, including in the Pattern, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Dream The Blues (2.00) hack it first time for Hanagan.

But what was surprising to see was the Oasis Dream filly available at offers of 7.8 on Betdaq early doors, while Hawks Reef and Going Grey were vying for favouritism. I grabbed a bit of that.

Haydock has a better card but even worse ground by all accounts: soft at Redcar but heavy at Haydock, the very conditions that have appealed to another filly, Smart Step (4.45), De Sousa’s mount in the mile handicap.

Smart Step (I took 5.2) has had a two-week break since two wins on testing surfaces and is still 4lb lower than for the start of the season.

I fancy Fallon on Jonnie Skull (at 3.55 for the 9.20 Wolverhampton): the pair made all over CD, just 3lb lower, a month ago.
Pytheas and Anne’s Rocket beat ‘Jonnie’ a fortnight back but both have very poor strike rates and the betting – he was 8-1 that day – suggested that he wasn’t at his best.

A decent card at Cheltenham is a reminder of the time of year, and punters will be delighted to see a McCoy v Walsh contest twice on the card. How draconian whip rules will affect McCoy’s stand-no-nonsense style, owners and backers will be anxious to know.

In massive contrast to the Flat cards, Prestbury Park is riding firm! The brace of class-2 contests are the best of the day, in particular the novices’ chase (3.55 Cheltenham).

Be warned that this has produced an NH Chase winner, a Midlands Grand National runner-up, two Feltham winners, a Reynoldstown and Racing Post Chase winner, and a Charlie Hall winner in the last seven years.

Coincidentally, the McCoy (Chesapeake) and Walsh (Your Busy) mounts are the pair you’d pick as best suited to the conditions, according to past performance.

The Irish raider, Traffic Article, has yet to tackle this trip, whereas Chesapeake (trading 6.6 as I write) has scored over 3m 2f and has already beaten Liberate (third) at Newton Abbot.

BET 2.9pts win DREAM THE BLUES (2.00 Redcar)
BET 3.5pts win CHESAPEAKE (3.55 Cheltenham)
BET 4.7pts win SMART STEP (4.45 Haydock)
BET 7.8pts win (nap) JONNIE SKULL (9.20 Wolverhampton)

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