Tony Calvin: Back an upset at Newcastle and a Nicholls horse at Newbury

Newcastle races
Will Takingrisks cause an upset at Newcastle (above)?
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Tony Calvin looks ahead to the weekend's racing and explains why he likes the price on Takingrisks at Newcastle as well as backing a Paul Nicholls runner at Newbury.

"Paul Nicholls may still be having a very quiet time by his usual high standards, but Cyrname was another example of him being a superb target trainer, and Yala Enki is very interesting on his first start for the yard."

Newbury stage a great two-day card this week - more of the main event there in a bit - but the Grade 1 action is at Newcastle where the Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle takes centre stage.

The immediate reaction to seeing a seven-runner race featuring a 2/7 favourite that has 13lb and more in hand of the field is to swiftly move along.

But is Buveur D'Air the good thing those odds suggest?

Common sense would suggest yes, as he consistently churns out high-class efforts - for all he has been beaten in three of his last five starts - he has won this race on his reappearance for the past two years and the expected heavy ground holds no fears for him.

And, for all it seems he has been around for yonks, the dual Champion Hurdler is still only eight.

Silver Streak could cause an upset

However, I have a feeling that Silver Streak has the talent to put it up to him and he is probably not a bad bet at [5.0] or bigger on the exchange. Indeed, I was half-tempted to put him up here at 7/2 each way.

As likeable as Lady Buttons is, and as progressive as Cornerstone Lad seems after a hugely impressive Wetherby win (albeit off a mark of just 142), I struggle to see past Silver Streak when it comes to an upset.

Newcastle fence 956.jpg

Now, he has been well beaten in both his starts in Grade 1 company to date - though his third in the Champion Hurdle was clearly a fine effort - and his comeback win at Kempton told us nothing new, especially as his market rivals disappointed and his 8-length defeat of the 132-rated Beat The Judge was to be expected.

But he was still very convincing there and he looks a 6yo going places in a weak-looking 2m hurdling division.

The problem is the heavy ground, as his record suggests he would much prefer a decent surface, for all that Cheltenham third came on soft.

I am not ruling out an upset but it's a wait-and-see job for now. It's possible that connections could give the race a swerve if the ground is very bad come Saturday afternoon.

Take a risk in the Betfair Rehearsal Chase

Kilfilum Cross looks very solid in the Betfair Rehearsal Chase but Takingrisks looks the overpriced one at 12/1 with the Sportsbook.

He wouldn't be the most assured jumper but he made big strides forward after being fitted with cheek pieces on his final two starts this season, winning over this sort of trip on heavy ground at Carlisle and then winning the Scottish National by four lengths at Ayr.

He predictably went up a fair amount for that, and he is 8lb higher here, but he shaped well enough over hurdles on his comeback (where he didn't have the pieces on) and a big run looks on the cards back over fences and presumably with the headgear re-applied.

At 12/1 each way, four places, Takingrisks is a bet. He may be a 10yo now but there could be more improvement in him, with conditions to suit.

Nicholls runners looks 'interesting' at Newbury

Over to Newbury, where the Betfair Sportsbook have priced up a plethora of races on the Friday and Saturday, and there is an exchange market on the Ladbrokes Trophy.

Nobody likes to hear when you have copped a decent bet on the quiet, but I did manage to snaffle some 20/1 about On The Blind Side last week.

The 12s about him also disappeared yesterday and the betting edge on him has probably disappeared now he trades around the 9/1 mark.

But he looks a well handicapped horse to me on his Kempton defeat of Talkischeap last season and he didn't miss too many eyes when staying on from off the pace when fourth on his Ascot return.

Newbury hurdle ground 956.jpg

He wouldn't want the ground to turn too soft - and there is rain around for the next three days - and he doesn't have the most solid of profiles in truth, but he is certainly weighted to put in a big effort if he can build on that hugely promising Ascot return.

I can't tell you how annoyed I was when West Approach dotted up at Cheltenham last time without a even so much as a penny of my cash on him, and he has to be a big runner here, as he is 4lb well-in even with his 4lb penalty. He isn't a bad price at all at 14/1+ on the exchange.

However, the bet that stands out to me at this stage is the Sportsbook's 25/1 about Yala Enki. Back him each way, four places, at 25/1.

Paul Nicholls may still be having a very quiet time by his usual high standards, but Cyrname was another example of him being a superb target trainer, and Yala Enki is very interesting on his first start for the yard.

Bryony Frost is already jocked up and that suggests he is an intended runner. That was presumably not always the case as in a recent interview Nicholls said the "Welsh National is his first big target after a prep somewhere."

Hopefully, this isn't a prep and he is a horse who has a fair record when fresh (winning first time up in 2015 and 2018) and Nicholls reports that he has already given the horse a wind op, too.

So while he looks to have no form secrets form the handicapper - he is 1lb higher than for his Welsh National third last season - maybe the breathing tweak will have helped, and it can rain as much as it likes this week for the mudlark (though he has winning form on good to soft).

Over and out. Back on Thursday.

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