Tony Calvin's Ante-Post Tips: Dan Skelton's runner weighted to go well

Tony Calvin Betfair Chase
Tony Calvin tips up his second selection of the week

Tony Calvin returns with his second ante post column of the week, where he has found value with a Skelton runner in the Betfair Rehearsal Chase on Saturday...

"...there was certainly nothing wrong with his third over 3m1f at Aintree three starts ago, off a 5lb higher mark than this."

As I said when reviewing the Ladbrokes Trophy and Betfair Fighting Fifth on Monday, I am happy to leave Friday's action alone (four races are priced up by the Betfair Sportsbook if you want to look) and come to it fresh on Thursday, so I will focus on the other Saturday contests in this ante-post piece.

Blimey, that opening paragraph had so many days in it, I feel like Craig David. And that is the one and only musical reference you will ever get in my columns, trust me.

I will start with the two handicaps on the Betfair card at Newcastle, and we have just the 10 five-day entries for the 2m7f91yd Handicap Chase at 13:30pm.

Newbury jumping fence 1280 .jpg

Now, this obviously has the potential to cut up, as Cooper's Cross, Downtown Getaway, Jacamar, Juge Et Parti, Thatsby and Winds Of Fire all have alternative weekend engagements. So I would hold fire on backing those.

Little wonder the Sportsbook are only offering two places for each-way purposes.

That leaves four to concentrate on and Valleres looks the right favourite at 9/4 after his good third at Newbury on his return, after which the handicapper actually dropped him 1lb.

Nestor Park is also fairly handicapped with form on good ground - I should mention again the going is currently good, with varying amounts of rain forecast on Friday and Saturday (17mm on the latter on one site), so I am working on the basis of good to soft - and from a stable in good form, so he is a very fair 12/1 chance too as his run at Lingfield would have blown away the cobwebs.

But I can leave this race for now with such a solid-looking favourite, for all this winning pointer does have his stamina to prove.

Actually, as regards the weather, I have just clocked it is due to get down as low as -3 on Saturday, so fingers crossed the freeze doesn't beat the track.

Skelton's nine-year-old worth siding with

Dan Skelton.jpg

The Betfair Exchange Rehearsal Chase at 14:05pm has a healthier 20 entries and Good Boy Bobby is the Sportsbook's 4/1 favourite, even though he has the option of Newbury on Friday (so a few people will be keeping a very keen eye on the decs on Wednesday morning).

Court Master, Demachine, Glen Forsa (who ran very well last time), Informateur and Mister Whitaker could also run elsewhere this week, so you take an added chance if backing those ante-post.

The one that stood out to me, and one I will be backing, is Spiritofthegames win-only at 10/1. All firms are betting 1/4 1,2,3 , so I am happy to go on the nose at this at this stage (I imagine you will get four places on Saturday even if we get a fair few defections).

The 10s may go quickly, but I think he is a fair bet at 8s and upwards.

All his best form has come at Cheltenham and he hasn't won since October 2018 (some nasty people call him some unkind names), but Dan Skelton looks to have got him here for this valuable pot off a very fair mark, the horse having been dropped 3lb for his run in the Paddy Power last time.

And his ninth there, when a 33/1 chance, was certainly not without promise, as he actually stayed on pretty well over 2m4f after getting outpaced.

All his best form has come over 2m4f but he possibly looks more attuned to this trip these days, as a 9yo, and there was certainly nothing wrong with his third over 3m1f at Aintree three starts ago, off a 5lb higher mark than this.

The ground isn't a worry and this looks a very good spot for a horse with bundles of high-class and big-field handicap form.

No value at present, despite large fields

Newbury's 2m6f93yd Peter O'Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase at 13:15pm looks a tough one to decipher with 25 entries, especially as I can't play with the two I was attracted to most form-wise for a couple of different reasons.

Kalooki is simply far too short at 13/2 and the 12s about Morning Vicar was tempting until I saw he was also entered at Newbury on Friday, too.

The 19-runner 2m4f handicap hurdle at 13:50pm isn't any easier with plenty of lightly-raced and last-time-out winners in attendance, and I am not inclined to take it on at this stage, but the best handicapped horse on the race could prove to be the old boy of the party, the 10yo Ch'tibello.

He apparently has done well to make it back to the track after an injury last season, so I imagine he will be plenty straight enough here - unless they go down the kid-gloves route. that is, which would be understandable, I guess, if he has had a rough time of it - and the handicapper has been kind, dropping him 7lb in his absence since last December.

But, while the assessor has taken a chance, the layers haven't and it is easy to let him pass by at 7/1 at the moment.

I was hugely taken with Soaring Glory's comeback win at Ascot and I suspect last year's Betfair Hurdle winner on this course will be able to defy a 7lb rise in the weights in the limited handicap hurdle at 14:25pm.

But do I want to be taking 13/8 now when he could be facing the likes of Monmiral, possibly re-routed from Newcastle, as well as six other dangerous-looking rivals? The answer is definitely no.

Thinking a horse will win is one thing, but backing him at a short price is completely another matter. I will revisit on Thursday, when I know the opposition, but I probably won't be in a mad rush to oppose him.

I will also leave the 17-runner 2m handicap chase alone at 15:35pm.

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