Tony Calvin’s going for a Storyteller at Leopardstown



ITV Racing have begged, stolen and borrowed to get a full programme on Monday, with Catterick and Limerick joining Leopardstown on the box following Leicester’s abandonment.

The one planned race from Limerick could be optimistic though, with Sunday’s meeting there called off after 18mm of rain overnight.

There is an 8am inspection on Monday morning to see if the waterlogged track has dried up sufficiently, but I am not getting my hopes up and am ignoring it for the purposes of this column (probably just as well as I liked the already-punted Off You Go most after a quick skim, and I hate tipping shortening favourites).

Late non-runner means a scuppered tip

I’ll take the Catterick race first before moving over to Ireland for the superb Leopardstown card, and we have an seven-runner (was eight, and I will get to that shortly) 1m7f156y handicap hurdle at 13:30 to go at.

It is soft at the track, with no appreciable rain forecast, so conditions should be fine.

I am a big fan of the Jennie Candlish yard and their Zuckerberg, the outsider of the field, is interesting, having been dropped 5lb and having had a wind op since being pulled up at Bangor in August.

But there is too much guesswork with this ex-Frenchie, and Fin And Game looked a more solid proposition, and a bet at 6/1.

I had written the lengthy case for him just as he was declared a non-runner at 11:05am on Sunday morning. What joy.

That brings the field to seven as well, so the each-way angle disappeared there and then, too.

Super Savills Chase a race to saviour

Over to Leopardstown then for a blockbuster of a card, with the Savills Chase at 14:25 probably the race of the season to date on both sides of the sea.

I’d be lying if I said I took much notice of day-to-day racing in Ireland, and dipping in and out is never the wisest wagering course of action – as once-a-year punters in the Breeders’ Cup probably can testify to – but even I know all of this Grade 1 mob.

Minella Indo is the right favourite (5/2 with the Betfair Sportsbook) and you sense he could be the real deal, but he does face by far his stiffest task to date with nine other horses rated 160 and above in opposition – just the nine, yes! – and the problem with races of this depth is that there are bundles you can oppose him with.

The Sportsbook help by paying four places and I did toy with putting up Tout Es Permis at 50/1 each-way as he finished in front of Presenting Percy and Delta Work at Down Royal in October and could be sharpened up by the first-time blinkers.

But he could run a career-best here and finish seventh or eighth.

The other one that I considered was Fakir D’oudairies at 20/1, as he could well improve for the step up to 3m, but this is a baptism of fire as to the initial questioning of his stamina.

So I am inclined to whip out the old cowardly clichΓ©. A race to watch and not bet in.

Outsider of Elliott trio can land the spoils

The Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle at 13:15 doesn’t lose much in the comparison as regards depth, with just 11lb separating the top and bottom-rated, and a mere 5lb splitting the five top guns.

I am a big fan of Sire Du Berlais and I don’t have any issue with him at all being put in at around the 2/1 favourite here on the exchange after his comeback win at Navan, but if you rate him then you have to think The Storyteller is a fair each-way punt at 12/1 with the Betfair Sportsbook.

Now, I know Sire Du Berlais beat him Β½ length in the Pertemps Final in March and is 3lb better off here, but I don’t get the difference in price.

It is not as is of the selection has gone backwards since. Indeed, he cut an impressive swathe through the autumn, and comes here on the back of a win in the aforementioned Champion Chase at Down Royal in October.

If he can transfer that chase improvement to hurdles (he is now rated 162 over fences) – and the fact he has had a near two-month break since is probably also in his favour given he was back in action in July – then he is no double-figure poke in here.

He could be the classiest on show in terms of raw ability.

His record off a break could be construed as a slight concern (as would any more rain), and he is comfortably the longest price of the Gordon Elliott trio, but those points do not concern me and the race has a nice each-way shape to it, so I will take my chances.

We can even afford to have one non-runner in this nine-strong line-up before we start moaning about changing each-way terms.

I am going to leave it there, though I did toy with Western Boy at 14/1+ in the 2m4f handicap hurdle at 13:50.

Good luck.