Will Hayler: Absinthe (100-30) and Graham Lee took the flag-started opener on the second day of Chester's May meeting to give Donald McCain another winner after his one-two in Wednesday's Chester Cup.
"This time last year I was riding around Aintree. It's mad, isn't it, but happy days," said Lee, who only turned to riding on the Flat six weeks ago. Lee described the going as "perfect jumping ground" which says it all.
Yes, yes, they're only small fields, particularly after all of the non-runners, but that still doesn't make it any less annoying that another two of Chester's races on Thursday will be started by flag start rather than stalls. It's simply an unnecessary extra risk for punters. Surely there's a way to board over the grass and prevent the turf from being chewed up when the stalls are put into position?
Of course Chester couldn't have done anything about the unprecedented levels of rain they have received, but surely the problems with vehicles getting stuck in the infield - leading to a seven-minute delay for the opener - could have been foreseen? Along with the disappointing lack of GoingStick readings in the build-up to the meeting, it is starting to seem all a bit amateurish. And that's not like a slickly-run operation like Chester.
11am Weather hits racing again as Goodwood is abandoned
Tony Paley: The weather continues to play havoc with racing and Thursday's fixture at Goodwood has been abandoned due to a waterlogged track. Course officials there were forced to call off the eight-race Flat meeting following 19 millimetres of overnight rain.
The meeting at Wincanton goes ahead as scheduled after course officials moved forward a proposed 8am inspection. Although the Somerset circuit sustained 11 mill Germany Team Soccer Jersey imetres of overnight rain, the jumps meeting has been given the go-ahead earlier than expected. The going is currently heavy, soft in places.
There was similarly good news at Yarmouth which was given the go-ahead following a 7.30am precautionary inspection. While course officials will remain on weather watch, the Flat fixture has defeated the elements. The going is heavy following six millimetres of overnight rain, with racing due to commence at 5.20pm.
Clerk of the course Richard Aldous said: "We might be in some trouble if there is a lot more rain, but the forecast is for the weather to hopefully stay dry."
The two races on Ascot's round course on Friday evening have been abandoned due to a waterlogged track. Ten millimetres of overnight rain has hit the Berkshire circuit hard - although the remainder of the card, due to be staged on the straight course, remains fit for racing. Racing is now due to commence at 5.25pm, rather than the intended 4.10pm start.
Ascot are also in action on Saturday, with the two races on the round course subject to an inspection, the time of which has yet to be announced, on raceday morning.
Clerk of the course Chris Stickels said: "At the moment the round course is waterlogged and unraceable. Friday's races on the round course have therefore been abandoned, and we are not sure we are going to be able to go ahead with them on Saturday. We want to give it every chance so the most sensible thing to do is to call an inspection on Saturday morning.
"The straight course is soft, heavy in places, but the forecast is promising. Based on the forecast, we'd be confident the straight course will be fine."
Hexham's meeting on Saturday is also under threat and is now subject to a 2pm course Cheap Inter Milan Soccer Jersey inspection on Friday. The Northumberland circuit is currently waterlogged in places following an inch of overnight rainfall. A further seven millimetres of rain has been forecast during Thursday.
Clerk of the course James Armstrong said: "It's not great at all. We could see a lot more rain [on Thursday], which is not promising. If it looks like it's improving we'll give it until Saturday morning, but it is a showery outlook."
Thursday's best bets, by Will Hayler
The unkind have often compared Chester to a dog track and after another night of heavy rain, the turf will be swampier than the sand at Wimbledon for the second day of the May meeting.
My in-depth preview to the day's TV racing on Channel 4 is here. Meanwhile, reports suggest that the centre of the course is so sodden that track officials will not be allowing parking on the infield - perhaps in order to prevent the cars from sinking.
As such, it's worth repeating my regular mantra that unpredictable results tend to occur more frequently on extremes of going. This is not the day to prove yourself a betting superstar.
Nobody will be more upset if the meeting can't be completed than Dr Marwan Koukash, who has well over two dozen horses entered over the course of the three days.
He already has a 50-1 winner on the board and expectations are high – his and mine – ahead of Gabrial's (3.05) run in the seven-and-a-half furlong handicap. You can read more about my views on that contest and the other televised races here.
It's very hard to dislike Koukash, who comes across as a thoroughly decent chap in every interview he does (I loved hearing him play down his involvement in the sport when he owns more than 100 horses) and I'll also be rooting for his Calaf (4. Arsenal FC Jerseys 45) in the closing contest. First and second in two starts over course and distance last year, he seems to have improved again this season and is proven to handle soft ground.
Meanwhile, Weekend Millionair (6.35) holds solid claims at Wincanton. Although he had a gruelling race when a brave second in Ireland a fortnight ago, his season only started in the spring and he should still be fresher than his main rivals this evening – an important asset at this stage of the season where horses can suddenly lose their form at the end of a long campaign.
Tipping competition, day three
Already a handy second, Yossarian24 had both Ile De Re (10-1) and Confessional (5-1) to put him on a fine score. But waltersobchak and millreef are close up, having paired Ile De Re with Rosslyn Castle (7-1). Glavintoby, chris1623 and sandiuk all had Confessional and Rosslyn Castle.
Today, we'd like your tips, please, for these races: 2.50 Goodwood, 4.15 Chester, 4.45 Chester.
This week's prize is a pair of Premier enclosure tickets to Sandown for the evening of Thursday 31 May, when the track stages the Brigadier Gerard and other classy races. It is always a relaxed and thoroughly enjoyable occasion. Those of you who don't win can buy tickets here.
As ever, our champion will be the tipster who returns the best profit to notional level stakes of £1 at starting price on our nominated races, of which there will be three each day up until Friday. Non-runners count as losers. If you have not joined in so far this week, you are welcome to do so today, but you will start on -6.
In the event of a tie at the end of the week, the winner will be the tipster who, from among those tied on the highest score, posted their tips earliest on the final day.