Tony Calvin: Early thoughts on Saturday's ante-post races

Sandown Park Racecourse
Sandown Park hosts the Solario and Atalanta Stakes on Saturday

It may not be a Classic or Group 1 weekend of racing to look forward to but the Betfair Sportsbook has priced up races at Sandown and Beverley and our man Tony Calvin gives his early thoughts...

"Of course, we know that Too Darn Hit is definitely being targeted at the race and a lot of the others may fall by the wayside on Thursday morning, but his price looks frankly ludicrous, as it stands."

Let's say it as it is.

This weekend's racing in England isn't going to set anyone's pulse racing, and I only hope that the fields stand up at the overnight stage to give us something to work with for Friday's column.

Not so Hot on Solario jolly

At the time of writing, there are no Saturday markets on the exchange, though the Betfair Sportsbook have priced up five races, and the Solario Stakes is probably the most interesting from a betting point of view as it sees Too Darn Hot installed as the 5/4 favourite.

Now, it is easy to see why he has been made the market-leader.

As a brother to So Mi Dar and Lah Ti Dar, he certainly has the pedigree and he was very impressive when winning at odds of 8/11 on his debut at Sandown.

However, it surely takes a leap of faith to want to be backing him at that sort of price, even though the early 7/4 in the marketplace soon disappeared. Someone is keen, obviously.

The time of his victory in that five-runner race over 1m was no great shakes though, and it is hard to gauge the merit of the form considering he was also beating two newcomers, with his main market rival disappointing in last.

And it is not as if he is lining up against third-tier opposition here.

There are 15 entries and among them are the Chesham Stakes winner Arthur Kitt, a Vintage Stakes second and third in Dunkerron and Confiding, an Ascot Listed race winner in Victory Command, the Acomb runner-up Watan and no end of other recent, unexposed winners.

Indeed, you can easily argue that the favourite's stablemate, unbeaten course-and-distance winner Beatboxer, boasts the better form of the pair going into the race.

Of course, we know that Too Darn Hit is definitely being targeted at the race and a lot of the others may fall by the wayside on Thursday morning, but his price looks frankly ludicrous, as it stands. He didn't really look as though the step down to 7f here would be ideal, either.

He could well be a superstar but it's a fair bet that I won't be tipping him at the weekend.

Worthy favourite but Filly a big threat if ground dries

The Sportsbook have also priced up the Atalanta Stakes and the 1m2f handicap on the Sandown card and Veracious is the 7/4 favourite in the former.

She ran well when a two-length third to Wild Illusion in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood and the drop back down to a mile shouldn't be an issue, but anyone who saw Unforgetable Filly bolt up at Haydock last time will be aware what a threat she poses.

She was a revelation in winning by eight lengths there but the problem with backing her at the moment is that the ground at Sandown is currently soft, and she wants it quick. If it doesn't dry up appreciably through the week, I imagine she won't run.

Throw in the fact that another of the market leaders, Desert Diamond, also has entry at the Curragh on Saturday - and only one horse is currently jocked up - and it is a race that is easily swerved for now.

So is the aforementioned 1m2f handicap, though if you are having a dabble it is worth noting that Betfair and Paddy Power are the only firms offering four places for each-way punters.

Impossible to have an opinion without knowing the draw

There are also ITV races at Chester and Beverley this weekend - hats off to whoever came up with the Foxy Bingo Fur-Ever Friends Handicap, or possibly not, at Chester - and Take Cover heads the betting for the Beverley Bullet at 3/1.

He won the race last year, ran well in the Nunthorpe last week, and is the joint highest-rated horse in the contest, so his appearance as the early favourite comes as no surprise.

However, betting without knowing the draw at those tracks is hardly recommended. And probably at Sandown, too.

I'll be back on Friday with some more positive betting vibes...

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