Tipster extraordinaire Tony Calvin is back with some big-priced fancies for Saturday's racing at Newbury and Newcastle...
Shirkers need not apply at Newbury this week, and a hardy battler with a big dollop of class is a must in the Hennessy on Saturday afternoon.
So step forward Smad Place at 8.615/2 in the big race at 15:00. He would be my idea of the favourite, and I'll be surprised if he isn't in the first four at least.
The grey was twice placed in the World Hurdle and on the evidence on his last two starts then he has the capability to rate even higher over fences this season.
He may well need to be a Gold Cup horse to be winning this off a mark of 155 - Bob's Worth won this off 160 two years ago before winning at Cheltenham on his next start - but the potential is certainly there. He was rated 161 in his pomp over hurdles.
He dug deep to beat Sam Winner in bottomless conditions over 3m here back in February before running a stormer when just touched off in the RSA, where there was 6 lengths back to the third.
You could argue that a mark of 155 underestimates that Cheltenham effort, and I think there is more to come from him. He had a racecourse gallop here a fortnight ago, and his trainer Alan King couldn't have his string in better form, with a treble here on Thursday.
He just looks very solid indeed, a class horse with a winning attitude who can get down and dirty when the need arises - and it will here, in these conditions - and a big run is confidently expected.
I can't have Djakadam, even though he has drifted to a more realistic price now - the stat that Willie Mullins' last handicap chase winner in England was Hedgehunter in the 2005 Grand National is staggering - but others are on my shortlist include Annacotty, Houblon Des Obeaux and Many Clouds.
Annacotty is particularly interesting with the blinkers back on after a fair third over an inadequate trip on his reappearance, and the Feltham winner could relish this longer trip on soft ground. He looks a grinder and rates a very fair saver at odds of 30.029/1.
I tipped Triumphant in these columns at Cheltenham a fortnight ago, only to see him pulled out in the morning, and am more than happy to row in with him again at odds of 13.012/1 or better in the 13:50.
As I said before Cheltenham, backing horses that are creeping up the handicap on the back of placed efforts aren't normally my bag. But I thought Triumphant ran really well at Fontwell last time considering he had been raised very harsh 8lb for an earlier second at Huntingdon.
He was probably withdrawn at Cheltenham because Gary Moore thought that 2m5f on soft ground there would have stretched his stamina, so the step back to 2m3f could be a good move, and what seals the deal is the re-fitting of a visor.
The only time he has worn one before he finished second to a certain Camelot in a Group 3 at the Curragh - and even his more recent flat form for Moore suggests a hurdle mark of 124 could be very lenient - so the trainer has obviously been experimenting at home.
I have no real opinion at the prices in the staying hurdle race at 14:25 and everyone saw how well Monetaire ran at Cheltenham considering he nearly fell at the first - so no surprise that he has been well found in the market - so up to Newcastle, where I can't be having Irving at around the 11-10 mark in the Fighting Fifth at 14:05.
He clearly has something to prove after that bad fall at Wincanton last time, and doesn't have anything in hand of two of three of these on form anyway.
I suspect that I will probably end up laying him - and, out of left field, possibly chucking a couple of quid at Swaledale Lad at a massive price while I am at it - but I'm not here to suggest odds-on plays, so it's on the Rehearsal Chase at 14:40, and Hey Big Spender at odds of 8.07/1 or bigger.
He looked to run out of gas after travelling well for a long way when just over 5 lengths third to Lie Forrit at Aintree on his reappearance, and I'd be confident that he will gain his revenge on that horse on 5lb better terms with that run under his belt.
In fact, he treads the same Aintree to Newcastle path he did when beating Vintage Star by a neck in this race last season - he also won this contest in 2011 - and it is obvious that Colin Tizzard has trained him for this prize once again.
And, as way of confirmation, the tongue tie is back on after being left off at Aintree. He ideally may want better ground these days - he has won on heavy in the past - but hopefully that won't be an issue.
Best of luck.
Back Smad Place at 8.615/2 in the 15:00 at Newbury
Back Annacotty at odds of 30.029/1 or bigger in the 15:00 at Newbury
Back Triumphant at odds of 13.012/1 or bigger in the 13:50 at Newbury
Back Hey Big Spender at odds of 8.07/1 in the 14:40 at Newcastle