Tony Calvin: Dino Velvet can end his losing run at Haydock on Saturday

Haydock racecourse
TC is backing Dino Velvet at Haydock (above) on Saturday

"Getting a run for your money is not certain with Dino Velvet in the 1m7f144yd handicap hurdle (14:05), as he also has the option of the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Plumpton a day later, but I am told Haydock is the plan unless the ground there is too testing (which it doesn’t look like being unless the forecasts are ridiculously wrong), so I am happy to side with him."

Tony Calvin discusses this Saturday's racing and recommends a bet on an Alan King horse at Haydock as well as one that simply cannot go unbacked at 20/1 at Musselburgh...

The purists won't be purring at the prospect of the seven ITV races on Saturday - there has to be some class-downtime between the Cheltenham Festival and Aintree's Grand National meeting, so let's not be too snobby about it - but that won't stop me having a look.

I'll stick my snout in anywhere in the pursuit of a few quid.

That said, I am going to leave the 10 all-weather terrestrial races from Lingfield and Newcastle on Good Friday until I know the final fields, because the draw and pace considerations are obviously vital betting ingredients in that sphere.

The Haydock contests on ITV on Saturday are all worth 35k, being series' finals, and it looks like the track will get some decent ground for once with the warm weather sweeping the country in the first half of the week.

It is currently soft, but will be surely looking at good soft at worst come the weekend. Maybe even good.

An ante-post punting upside of the excellent cash on offer is that we should be pretty confident most will turn up on the day, fitness-permitting (against that however, I suppose most trainers last week wouldn't have bargained for such decent ground at Haydock).

Conditions right for King horse to thrive at Haydock

Getting a run for your money is not certain to be the case with Dino Velvet in the 1m7f144yd handicap hurdle (14:05), as he also has the option of the grandly-named Scottish Champion Hurdle at Plumpton a day later, but I am told Haydock is the plan unless the ground there is too testing (which it doesn't look like being unless the forecasts are ridiculously wrong), so I am happy to side with him.

For what it is worth, Adrian Heskin is already jocked up, too.

Back him at 14/1 each-way, three places, with the Betfair Sportsbook. 12s would be fine, too.

I know there are currently 16 runners and we could get four places come the weekend if 12 or so are confirmed on Thursday morning.

But I want the place angle on side given the selection's profile, and this race may actually cut up a touch, for all I said about the prize money earlier.

Gipsy De Choisel is entered at Ffos Las on Thursday - though Da Vinci Hand and Caswell Bay were taken out of their respective engagements that day on Tuesday morning - while mud-lover Eamon An Cnoic is entered Carlisle on Saturday.

Whisper it quietly, but this Dino Velvet has shades of the mighty Singlefarmpayment about him, in that he is on a long losing run since netting a brace in the spring of 2019 and he probably should have won a couple of times since, though to be fair he has never traded at less than 3.185/40 in-running during his dry spell, unlike the mighty Farm (though he hit odds-on in the run three times earlier in his career and was chinned).

But surely the handicapper has given him every chance now he has dropped in to a mark of 125, some 10lb lower than he was after finishing second to Verdana Blue in the Scottish Champion Hurdle in April 2019.

As I said, there has been a lot of losing water flowing under the bridge since then but the key to this horse is a strongly-run race on good ground, and he looks like getting that off his lowest mark since winning at Market Rasen off 122 two years ago.

His only start at this track resulted in a sixth off a mark of 135 in the always-ultra competitive Swinton Hurdle here and he ran the best race of his campaign when fourth to runaway winner Millers Bank at Newbury last time.

I mentioned Singlefarmpayment earlier as Dino Velvet can be an equally frustrating sort, sometimes going missing in the middle part of his races, and that was again the case at Newbury, a race in which he got going all too late from the rear.

Alan King 1280.jpg

It could well be that connections are toying with first-time headgear with the horse to help him focus from flag fall to line and Alan King (pictured), while not in the best of form, certainly knows what he is doing on that score, as he has shown with the likes of Coeur De Lion winning in a first-time visor at Royal Ascot last year.

Either way, I personally wouldn't be venturing into double-figures to lay Dino Velvet off 125 with conditions likely to be in his favour, so he has to be a bet at 14/1.

I know he has a non-winning profile of late but I am not particularly scared of any of the opposition here, though the JP-owned, Dan Skelton-trained Stratford winner Vision Du Puy is worthy of being favourite, as she is lightly-raced and could really kick on now getting her preferred better ground.

I don't think anyone missed the overly-forceful ride Debece was given on his debut for Skelton at Sandown, not least the Betfair Sportsbook who make him their early 3/1 favourite for the 3m1f125yd handicap chase (14:40).

The handicapper clocked it too, as he actually raised him 2lb for that four-and-a-half-length defeat, a race in which he traded at a low of 1.152/13 when blasting clear and jumping superbly from the front.

Ridden with a touch more restraint here, he remains on a very workable mark - and the better ground here should not be an issue - but I think the Sportsbook's 3/1 is enough to warn me off for now.

And this is a horse who does have a Topham entry next week, so they could even wait to run him there, I guess. Two of this horse's best career efforts have come over hurdles at Aintree, so that has to a consideration for ante-post punters tempted in by his short price.

Republican is one well handicapped horse in the 3m staying handicap hurdle (15:15) and the assessor clearly agrees as he has been very harsh in not even dropping the horse 1lb for his 18-and-a-half-length fifth to J'Ai Froid (also in here) at Ascot last time, a race in which he emptied over the extended 2m7f on soft ground after travelling well.

I am not sure how that works - though I appreciate J'Ai Froid won by 13 lengths last time and the third has gone in since, too - but I wouldn't be too chuffed if I owned or trained him. I would have been expecting a little bit of love.

It could well be that Republican will last home on a sharper track on better ground here, but I am not at all sold on the stamina front, so I can leave him alone, even at his double-figure price.

Dhowin is another horse that has been on my radar this season, and I was disappointed by him at Newbury last time as he didn't seem to be helping his talented claimer there at all up the straight.

He is another horse for whom connections are maybe considering headgear - he is related to Get Me Out Here on the distaff side, and that horse finished a short-head second in a Coral Cup with cheekpieces on - and that could be the key to unlocking a win in him.

But it sounds like connections are also concerned about the drying ground for this big unit, so he is not an ante-post betting conveyance.

Don't let Alright Sunshine go unbacked at Musselburgh

It is currently good to soft (good in places) at Musselburgh and that is my working assumption for Saturday too, as it looks chilly all week in Scotland, with some sites suggesting a bit of rain on Wednesday.

However, I find Musselburgh is a track where the draw can be crucial so (I know, it can be at most courses) so, as with Good Friday's action, I was originally happy to leave this card alone until I know all the relevant information.

Note, originally, so stay with me here.

There are four races on the box though, and my initial thoughts at the moment is that the 7f handicap (15:50) is very tricky and I definitely want to wait on the draw before punting,.

In the other three ITV races, I thought Heights Of Abraham was a fair price at 12s with the Betfair Sportsbook in the 3yo 1m handicap (14:25); I definitely want a pace map and a better handle on the ground before I unload anything in the 5f handicap (15:00); and Alright Sunshine is of obvious interest in the 1m6f Queen's Cup at 15:35 on a course on which he is four from four.

I say obvious interest, but then I clocked the Betfair Sportsbook's opening 20/1, and no way could I let that go unbacked and untipped.

I think 14s or 16s would have been very fair.

I appreciate his latest run over hurdles in a Grade 2 at Kelso was hardly the stuff of positivity and the recent form of the Keith Dalgleish yard is not too clever, but he is surely no 20s poke here, given that track record, good to soft ground will be fine for him, and his current mark of 99 gives him every chance.

He can be a tricky sort but he was rated 105 after winning at Ayr in 2019 and he ran a couple of good races last year, too.

Aside from the 4-4 Musselburgh records, I also imagine this must have been a long-term plan, too, and not least because his owners Straightline Bloodstock have a 25 per cent strike rate (17 from 67) here over jumps - one from eight on the Flat, granted - though I would know little of them.

Back Alright Sunshine at 20/1 each-way, four places, with the Betfair Sportsbook.

Good luck.

Recommended bets



MARCH : +6.2; FEB: +17.82; JAN: -0.2; DEC:- -20.8; NOV: +23

(20/21 NH ante-post TBC after Aintree)

2020 FLAT SEASON (June 1-November): +20.8

PREVIOUS P AND L (April 14 2017 to Apr 1 2020): +303.4

NB: All recommended Exchange bets are settled at Betfair SP, not at prices available at time of publishing.

FEB: +17.82; JAN: -0.2; DEC:- -20.8; NOV: +23

2020 FLAT SEASON (June 1-November): +20.8

PREVIOUS P AND L (April 14 2017 to Apr 1 2020): +303.4

NB: All recommended Exchange bets are settled at Betfair SP, not at prices available at time of publishing.


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