Tony Calvin brings three to the table

Bets on Aintree’s Friday card took some digging out I can tell you, so let’s deal with the races that I have no betting opinion on before getting down and dirty with the cash recommendations.

As a general rule, the lesser the race, the more I like them betting-wise – the market tends not to miss that much in the high-end contests – and it came as no surprise to me that I couldn’t find an angle into the first three Grade 1s on the card.

Don’t get me wrong, I am looking forward to them all, but watching and betting are two different things and they don’t necessarily go hand in hand.

Very often, they do not.

For all example, do I think Dusart has the ability to blow the field away in the 14:20, after what he did to the subsequent Betfair Hurdle winner Soaring Glory on his debut at Newbury in November?

Yes, I do.

Will I be backing him at around 5/2 on the exchange (he opened up at 7/2 with the Betfair Sportsbook on Wednesday morning) after he has been on the missing list since, after injuring himself at home soon afterwards?

No I won’t, especially as four of his rivals are rated in the 140s and one in particular, Third Time Lucki, is better than he showed in the County Hurdle last time and for whom this easier 2m on decent ground could be just the ticket.

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I genuinely have no betting view on the 3m1f novices’ chase at 14:50, although I did toy with Nuts Well in the 2m4f Marsh Chase at 15:25.

I know he has a fair bit to find with the likes of Politologue especially, and Fakir D’Oudairies probably boasts the best recent form after bumping into the monster that is Allaho in the Ryanair, but he is on a steady upwards trajectory and could be ready for this step up in class.

Certainly, his Kelso defeat of Aye Right, and his course and distance victory from Clondaw Castle in the Old Roan afterwards, suggests as much.

And his trainer Ann Hamilton has one impressive CV this season. Her last two runners have won and she is 11 from 33 this season (11 from 26 if you knock out her bumper runners), which is some going in anyone’s book.

That lessens the concern, to a degree, that we haven’t seen Nuts Well since October, but that is certainly weighing on my mind for all he has a good record when fresh, especially now up against Grade 1 horses.

And the early 10s with the Sportsbook went quickly too, and I would have wanted an each-way interest, even with the dead-eight and the spectre of a place-changing non-runner never too far away.

I deliberated about sticking him up at 13/2 each way, or a touch bigger win-only on the exchange, but I am not pushing a bet. The 13/2 was too short.

Henderson’s winning Cargo can strike again

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I don’t need to be dragged kicking and screaming into a bet in the Topham and Precious Cargo is a very decent bet at 19.018/1 or bigger.

Nicky Henderson, who won this race three years in a row from 2013, has four live chances in here but I am hoping Precious Cargo is his best hope after what was a hugely promising run over 2m4f at Warwick in February.

That was his first start since coming out second best in a match with Master Tommytucker at Huntingdon in November, after which he had a wind op.

That Warwick handicap wasn’t the strongest (though the winner went in again next time off a 4lb higher mark) but Precious Cargo shaped really well, looking the winner entering the straight – at which he traded at 1.5 in running – before emptying after the last and losing four places on the run-on.

I gather this has been the plan since and he is on a workable mark here judged on some of his 2m form last season, and hopefully his stamina can last out here on this decent ground.

I was going to utilize the six places on the Sportsbook, but he has to prove he stays this far in such a competitive race as this (and indeed stay, full stop), so I was on the lookout for another bet in the contest.

One of those won’t be Visioman, as his price has collapsed in the last 24 hours or so, but you can certainly see why.

The Henry De Bromhead-Rachael Blackmore axis is always to be feared and it is interesting to read the trainer namechecked this very race after the horse won at Limerick in October, and he wasn’t at all knocked out about in his prep run over hurdles in February (he was another given a break since November).

Break gives Kauto fantastic chance

Two others hit my short-list at the prices.

I was sorely tempted by Relentless Dreamer at a huge 66/1, six places, with the Betfair Sportsbook – the recency bias troop’s collectives heads will explode at that – and Kauto Riko win-only on the exchange.

I will be backing Relentless Dreamer personally as he clearly badly needed it when eventually well beaten on his recent run over hurdles on his first start since October (he went off a ridiculously big 82.6 at Betfair SP).

I think he could be suited by this test on decent ground, though I fully accept that he isn’t obviously well handicapped and this trip could be on the sharp side for him.

But Kauto Riko at 34.033/1 or bigger is my saver here. In fact, he’d be a bet at 25/1+.

The latter hasn’t run since finishing a fourth in the Paddy Power in November and he has had a few entries since, without being confirmed at the overnight stage.

That suggests he has had problems and his trainer Tom Gretton has had a season to forget in general too, though at least he stemmed a losing run when Lickpenny Larry won at Leicester last month.

And confidence can obviously be gleaned by the horse’s excellent record when fresh. And he is so well handicapped on his close second to Top Notch in the 2019 Peterborough Chase on good to soft ground that I am willing to risk him at the price.

Overpriced Twiston-Davies horse can produce


The only other ITV race is the 3m149yd novices’ hurdle at 16:40, and I do expect Bravesmangame to take a lot of beating. He clearly bumped into two high-class rivals in Bob Olinger and Gaillard Du Mesnil in the Ballymore, and I think the point winner is highly likely to stay this longer trip. Odds edging towards 9/4 are very fair.

But who knows what that Cheltenham run has taken out of him? I’ll take one against him at big odds.

Topofthecotswolds is that bet is at, but deciding in which arena was tricky.

I don’t fear much outside of the jolly and this outsider has much to recommend him, though incredibly annoyingly the 40s went with the Sportsbook early on Wednesday afternoon, and they are now into just 22s at the time of publishing (I imagine that price will be pushed out on Thursday evening so keep ’em peeled).

I can’t back him at that price, as I am going to stick him up at 34.033/1 or bigger win-only on the exchange. But bear with me, there is another angle coming. You will probably get bigger than 33s on the exchange, too.

I appreciate the official ratings don’t suggest as much, but he is a real player here and I can see him blossoming on his first start over 3m over hurdles, especially on this ground, which he loves.

He has won a couple of handicap chases over an extended 2m6f at Stratford and on one of the two occasions he ran over fences over this trip he split Potterman and El Presente at Market Rasen in August. The winner was just touched off in the Badger Beers afterwards, and El Presente won his next three.

I loved the way he bounded clear when winning over 2m3f at Doncaster last month, albeit in a much lesser race to this, and I reckon his relative freshness here (he was given a mid-season break) is a big plus.

Of course, he needs to improve but he was rated 142 over fences at his best and I reckon we are set for a big career-high over hurdles in these conditions.

I am also going to recommend you back him at 16/1 each way, three places, without Bravesmangame with the Sportsbook too. That was also cut from an original 22s but I can live with that price change.

In for a penny, and all that. The stable won this race with Ballyoptic in 2016 after that horse bypassed Cheltenham in favour of a low-key prep at Uttoxeter.

Competitive handicap hurdles on Racing TV top and tail Aintree’s Friday card. At big prices, I quite likes Amour De Nuit at 40/1+ on the exchange in the opener and 2019 runner-up Thistimenextyear at 16/1+ in the last, though I will keep my powder dry for now.

Keep an eye on my Twitter account (tony_calvin) as I may well add further thoughts on these races when the markets have settled down on Friday morning.