It is rare for me to struggle to find bets on a Saturday, and I only came up with one fresh punt at Sandown, so we may as well start with the 1m7f216yd handicap hurdle there at 15:35.
Back Jolly’s Cracked It at 8/1 each-way with the Betfair Sportsbook.
I am sucker for an aging handicapper, this much is true – an oldie but goodie, along the lines of Perfect Candidate – but when scanning the early markets on Thursday afternoon I was amazed to find the selection available at 16/1 in a place.
That didn’t last too long, but I have no hesitation in making the 11yo a bet at half those early odds.
Primed to take advantage of falling handicap mark
It’s been a while since his 6-length dismissal of Chatez over 2m at his beloved Ascot in November 2018, but he was rated 147 after that performance and he comes here off a mark of a mere 132.
And he does so after a very encouraging comeback run at Aintree, where he travelled into the race like a dream and only got tired after the last.
I’d say he shaped far better than his 7-length defeat would indicate there, especially as that came over a 2m4f trip that he doesn’t quite fully see out – all his five wins have come over a trip just of 2m, like this contest – and he will hopefully now be primed to get take advantage off his falling handicap mark.
This race has apparently been the plan for a while – in a Racing Post stable tour in mid-November trainer Harry Fry said: “He’ll go for a Listed handicap hurdle at Sandown in early December and we’ll hope for very soft ground” – and the booking of 7lb claimer Kevin Brogan seals the deal as far as I am concerned.
We could be watching through our fingers as he slogs up the Sandown hill – though he has been here once before and didn’t run at all badly when second in a four-runner Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle in 2015 – but hopefully he will come there swinging in worsening ground he should appreciate. And hold on.
He may find one of the younger improvers in here – and there are a few, most obviously recent course winner Mister Coffey – have too much in the locker for him, but I am very happy with a win and place bet at the price. There should be plenty of pace for him to aim at, as four of these like to go on.
Sit tight on Greaneteen in Betfair Tingle Creek
None of the other three Sandown races on ITV have attracted more than seven runners, but at least the big six have stood their ground in the main race of the day, the Betfair Tingle Creek at 14:25.
Thankfully, one of those is our 20/1 ante-post recommendation Greaneteen, and this week’s rain is welcome for this heavy-ground winner.
I won’t re-state, in any depth, the case I made for him before his winning Exeter comeback, and again in another ante-post column earlier this week, but suffice to say that we have got the price about this highly-progressive 6yo who Paul Nicholls hopes and expects to be a Grade 1 horse in waiting.
He certainly has a lot to find but he is improving, race-fit, and he travels and jumps like a class act.
I wouldn’t be rushing him to back him at his current price though, as we all know what Altior and stablemate Politologue bring to the Sandown party, namely proven top-class ability (as well as both being past winners) – I would probably be against Altior at 10/11, than with him, in truth but it is marginal – and the other three runners all have their chances.
I suspect Rouge Vif actually won’t have a chance if this rain keeps up, in that he will be pulled out, but Castlegrace Paddy and Brewin’upastorm are not no-hopers.
However, those on Greaneteen at 20s should sit tight, happy in the knowledge that they have at least comfortably beaten the market.
Crosspark came close to a bet but it’s not to be
As ever, I am happy to leave the six-runner novices’ chase at 13:50 to others, but it promises to be one exhilarating Grade 1 for the youngsters, with half of the field mere 4yos.
Those 4yos get 6lb too, and that partly explains why Allmankind and Hitman head the market, but clearly none of these can be discounted.
I wouldn’t be one to ignore the lowest-rated Tamaroc Du Mathan myself, as he looked very good indeed at Wincanton (albeit off a mark of just 131 in handicap company in an average time), but he is probably accurately priced t 14/1+ on the exchange given this much loftier company.
It is disappointing to see only seven runners in the Betfair London National at 15:00 as that obviously takes away the each-way element.
I would have happily chucked a few quid at Crosspark win and place at around the 9/2 and 5/1 mark but, alas, it was not to be.
Oh hang on, I see the Betfair Sportsbook are offering enhanced terms and are offering three places on their own race, so I was tempted to stick him up at 4s, but I’ll stay dry here, all the same.
Over to Aintree then, where ITV are also showing four races.
All three have a chance in fascinating Many Clouds Chase
Given the amount of ridicule and abuse I got for putting up Keeper Hill at 40/1 in the Betfair Chase last time – at least my Racing Only Bettor Podcast host Hugh Cahill did so before the race (and for a few weeks after too, admittedly) – the contrary soul in me itched to put him up at an even bigger price in the Many Clouds Chase at 14:40.
I may actually chuck a few quid at him once again for the hell of it – he will be three figures on the exchange, especially with his stable continuing on such a poor run – but this is not a race that entices me in, in all seriousness.
It could all revolve around how straight the Gold Cup runner-up Santini is (and he didn’t impress everyone in that Newbury racecourse gallop), and to a lesser agree Native River, but we know Frodon is already fit and firing.
Easy to make a case for all three, so no bet.
I was hoping that Megan would have been on offer at a lot bigger price than she is in the fillies’ juvenile hurdle at 14:05 but that was obviously wishful thinking given how impressive she was in a good time at Leicester.
Boy, was the girl impressive, but I can let her win unbacked at around 15/8 and 2/1 on the exchange in a race which does have some depth to it. It could be a different matter if she drifts to 3/1+, though.
Workable mark for Le Breuil with ground and trip no issue
As I mentioned in Tuesday’s ante-post piece I would have been very tempted if Aso went down the 2m5f Grand Sefton route, but what do I know, as connections have ignored my advice and stuck him the Becher over 3m2f at 13:30.
I just can’t have him over the longer trip.
One of my major failings in tipping and betting is quickly pulling stumps when the odds have run away from me. I hate getting involved on the tail-end of a punt.
Don’t get me wrong, price is all-important, but sometimes you have to focus on the here-and-now, and not the what-was.
If that makes sense.
I will give you an example. Literally everyone has tipped up Zanahiyr for the Triumph Hurdle this week, despite the 10/1 and 9/1 that was available as he passed the line on Sunday being a very distant memory, and him being now half those odds.
I actually admire people like that who can ignore missing a price, and concentrate on what is available at the time of writing and filing, and this occurred to me assessing whether to put up Le Breuil for the Becher at around 6/1. He was twice that price in a place at 12/1 on Monday (and a general 9/1 poke).
However, the more I looked the more I thought he was a bet at 7.06/1 or bigger.
He looked like he could play a major role in this race turning in last season – he traded 3.39/4 in the run – but he found disappointingly little soon afterwards. He did go into that race on the back of a poor run though, and that isn’t the case this time around after a good return at Kelso.
He actually looked set to be beaten a long way two out there but he stuck on well in the closing stages, and I like the fact that he has been given a six week-break since, as I think he is a horse best when fresh.
We know testing ground and stamina won’t be an issue here, as he won the National Hunt Chase in a bog last year, and a mark of 141 is definitely very workable judged on that Cheltenham win.
Ben Pauling‘s horses have still not hit top form, but the stable are at least having a few winners now.
Hoping Angel will be Flying in the mud in Grand Sefton
I was going to leave it there but I am going to give Flying Angel a chance at 17.016/1 or bigger in the Grand Sefton at 15:15.
On the face of it, he ran like a drain over 3m at Ascot on his return, and his suspect stamina over that trip and beyond wasn’t to blame, as he was never at the races.
The jockey said he hung left throughout, so maybe going the other way round will suit him better, though it hasn’t seemed an issue in the past, and I watched the race back and simply thought he was given an easy time of it in the rear before being pulled up.
He ran okay, nothing better, when fourth in this race last season when the 11/4 favourite but I am prepared to give him another chance now he has dropped back to the same mark as when winning by 8 lengths over this trip at (the right-handed) Ascot last November, with a 5lb claimer lightening his burden still here.
He is a chancy proposition, and the ability to handle these fences is probably more important than pounds and ounces, but I will have a small stab regardless. The 2m5f trip in what promises to be very testing ground could be just the ticket.
Jolly’s Cracked It is the bet of the day though, even if that early 16/1 is still gnawing away at me. I could be learning.
For more tips and insight from Tony on the weekend racing, check out this week’s Racing…Only Bettor podcast