Not a weekend for punting fainthearts

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As one matures into middle age there are an increasing number of things that are difficult to fathom. Are alcopops either popular or alcoholic? Why does Michael Owen still play for England? Is Jordan a country, a person or a mountain range?

These sub-existential riddles are not as difficult to solve as the big two races of the weekend, Saturday's totesport Cambridgeshire at Newmarket and Sunday's Prix de'l Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp. Neither contest is for punting fainthearts. The Cambridgeshire is a 35-runner cavalry charge over the unusual distance of nine furlongs. The Arc is the most open renewal of the race in a decade.

That said, there is value to be had in both. Whittling down the Cambrigeshire field is pretty simple. Ignore anything that isn't drawn high and tread warily with horses up in the handicap. In the last ten years no horse drawn in single figures has scored and in 2003 the first four home came from stalls twenty or higher.

Ante-post favourite Pedrillo may be drawn too low in berth 16, though any runner from Sir Mark Prescott should be respected as his record in this handicap is awesome. Gatwick is better drawn but the weight may tell. Class horses do win this, but seven of last ten have carried less than 8st8lbs.

The prodigiously irritating Zonergem may be worth a little bit each-way. This six-year old gelding is not a horse to put the mortgage on, but his third in the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot is nice form and suggests he may at last be getting his act together.

The Arc is even harder to call. Six horses in the field are within pounds of each other. The winner will be the one that is best prepared and peaks on the day.

Wellington would not approve but the French have the upper-hand. British Derby winner North Light is too short a price, only the owner and trainer would dare suggest that the Epsom classic was other than an average race.

Prix Niel winner Valixir's form is nicely progressive. The classic generation should prevail, but a saver on the old warhorse Warrsan might be wise in this most open of Arc's.

Selections

3:55 (Saturday) Newmarket Zonergem (each-way)

4:30 (Sunday) Longchamp Valixir (each-way)

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