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The big story from Newmarket on Wednesday was nothing to do with the Derby or the Oaks. No, it was news about that loveable man about town the bookies fear. He’s known simply as @ThePunter2020 on Instagram to his legions of fans, professional punter Martin Raymond has been laid up, hospital bound, having a knee operation. It didn’t stop him tipping a winner though, even though it did the business while he was still under the knife.

As poor old Martin was getting his patella sorted, so a rare day with his finger off the pulse, I thought I’d better do a mid-week round-up of news that he would have missed today. First up, Friday’s Cazoo Oaks sees an as expected mob-handed team from the Aidan O’Brien yard saddling five for the Classic for the fairer sex. His charge Santa Barbara with Ryan Moore up heads the market at a best-priced 6/4. O’Brien also saddles the current 9/2 top-priced second in Snowfall, winner of the Musidora Stakes at York last month under Frankie Dettori. The best of the home challengers looks to be The Roger Varian-trained pair, Teona and Zeyaadah, David Egan rides Teona in place of Andrea Atzeni, who partnered her to finish second behind Snowfall in the Musidora.  Jim Crowley rides Zeyaadah again after they finished runner-up in the Cheshire Oaks. Incidentally, Martin Raymond is on Teona big after she won on her all-weather debut and hasn’t been put off by getting beaten by Snowfall despite doing his cobblers on the race. It was a muddling pace and she pulled her chance away, she’s wearing a hood for the first time on Friday which is expected to help her settle. We can be pretty sure there won’t be a shortage of pace in the race this time. 

In contrast to the Oaks, it looks at the time of writing as if there will just be the sole O’Brien runner from another big entry for the Cazoo Derby. Speaking on Racing UK on Wednesday the trainer said. ‘It looks like Bolshoi Ballet will run at Epsom and High Definition will wait for the Curragh. Nothing is written in stone until ten o’clock in the morning, but it looks like the two horses are going to be split’. This decision left a shake-up in the jockey stakes too, the most noticeable loser being Adam Kirby who was due to Ed Dunlop’s John Leeper. He’s now been replaced by Frankie Dettori who became available as his expected intended mount had been High Definition. Bolshoi Ballet is a top-priced 5/4 chance with a handful of runners jostling for second in the betting. 

martin raymond

The day ended good news about ‘The Punter’. Waking up to news that he’d backed a winner while he was getting repaired had literally put a spring in his step. I sent him a message wishing him back on his feet and out of hospital and he replied with a video of himself back on his feet and going home, albeit hobbling just a bit. You can’t keep a good punter down, especially that one on Derby weekend

* Stop Press * Adam Kirby will have a ride in Saturday’s Cazoo Derby he’s been booked to ride Adayar for Godolphin currently a 33/1 chance. Now wouldn’t that be a story! 

Simon Nott

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