Saturday ITV Racing Tips: Another chance taken on Masham to Star
Our big price tipster Tony Calvin was hot under the collar after defeat for last week's plunge horse, but undeterred our man is back with a trio of selections for Saturday's ITV racing...
"...so he has obvious claims here on that run and various other big-field handicap efforts last season, and 7f on quick ground in a strongly-run race really should suit."
If Masham Star wins Ascot's Victoria Cup at 16:00 then I wouldn't advise being within a mile of me.
I don't really want to remember how much I had on that horse at Goodwood last Saturday, at far bigger prices than the 9/2 that he eventually went off at, and I think I would be locked up if repeating here what was said for about five minutes after he had chased a suicidal pace and dropped away to finish stone last.
The handicapper has set me a dilemma in dropping him a further 3lb though. We know the reason why he ran so badly at Goodwood, and everyone is also aware that Mark Johnston's handicappers often bounce back from shockers to surprise.
So I am going to give the horse another chance at [34.0] or bigger, so if he does win then I will actually be all smiles and buying the drinks. Only gin drinkers need apply, though.
Three of Masham Star's four starts at the course have been pretty woeful, if truth be told, but he did finish a decent fifth off a 12lb higher mark than this over 1m here last July - he looked like winning 2f out that day - so he has obvious claims here on that run and various other big-field handicap efforts last season, and 7f on quick ground in a strongly-run race really should suit.
Ascot regulars Raising Sand, Zhui Feng and Firmament came across my radar at the prices, and Keyser Soze is the obvious favourite after his excellent Spring Cup third.
The latter traded at [1.04] in running when looking set to collect the Newbury prize, only for his late swoop to be thwarted by last-ditch challenges either side of him, but he did remarkably well to even get into contention there considering he was drawn one. No other horse housed in a single-figure berth featured in the top ten home in that contest.
I also like Kynren towards the top of the market after he also ran so well in the face of another draw bias at Doncaster on his reappearance, and think he has the potential to take a big step forward, but I am just going to stick with Masham Star at 33/1+.
Yes, I am a stubborn, and a glutton for punishment, but I will be backing up with my own cash at least.
Boy can show plenty of Speedo in Ascot opener
Speedo Boy interests me in the opener at 14:15 at [15.0] or bigger.
We haven't seen him since he was toiling in bad ground over hurdles at Cheltenham in November but he has been dropped 3lb from 98 since his last outing on the Flat (which was in the soft here back in September) which enables him to get into this 0-95.
He has run well in both starts at this track, and I like the combination of 1m4f and fast ground for him for the first time. He is well handicapped on two or three efforts, most notably his second to Permian on fast ground in a 1m2f Listed race at Newmarket this time last year.
The draw in three is certainly not ideal - high numbers are strongly favoured here over this trip - but the price compensates and I am sure William Buick (two from 10 for the stable in the last five years, with two seconds) will be alive to that fact and have a plan accordingly.
The other two races at Ascot don't interest me.
Barsanti will take a lot of beating in the 14:50 if he comes back to the form of his unlucky second to Idaho in the Hardwicke here last year but the layers aren't giving much away with his price.
Urban Fox, who was also in the Victoria Cup, is of obvious interest in the 15:25 on her first start for William Haggas on a falling mark but it does look a very trappy fillies' handicap.
Classic clues on offer on Trials day, but no bets
It is all about potential in Lingfield's three ITV races, and I don't have a betting opinion as a result.
They don't get much trickier than the Oaks Trial at 13:55 in which we have seven last-time-out winners and four once-raced scorers, so pick the bones out of that.
Aidan O'Brien produced Magic Wand to improve by the best part of three stone to win the Cheshire Oaks and his Flattering left her poor 2yo form miles behind her when winning a heavy-ground Cork maiden by 10 lengths recently.
Much different conditions here but it is no surprise that she is the short-priced favourite given she is the representative of this all-powerful yard, but you can't bet in this race with any confidence given the unexposed nature of the opposition.
Cecchini probably interests me most, as she was visually very impressive when winning at Kempton and hails from the stable that won this race in 2013 and 2014, but this is not a punting race for me.
Kew Gardens looks to set the clear form standard in the Derby Trial at 14:30 and you suspect the O'Brien hand for Epsom will be further strengthened here.
His reappearance third in the Feilden was a shade underwhelming but he was held up over that 1m1f trip, which was in stark contrast to the forcing tactics that saw him dismiss Chester Vase runner-up Dee Ex Bee with little ease in the Zetland Stakes over 1m2f at Newmarket last season.
The step up in trip looks sure to suit this stoutly-bred individual (by Galileo out of a 1m4f winner) and one of these is going to have to step up a fair amount to get the better of him.
Of course, that is entirely possibly given their unexposed profiles - Thrave looked useful at Newmarket last season, and his trainer has evidently had a change of heart about his optimum trip (he was adamant he wasn't a Derby contender last year) - so this is another race watched.
The Fillies' 7f Group 3 at 15:40 looks an incredibly tight-knit affair and I really haven't a clue what will come out on top! La Figlia is half-interesting in a first-time visor though; his stable is 11 from 76 with that option since 2006.
Valour looks the class Act on faster surface
Act Of Valour was still available at 20/1 in a place on Wednesday morning after he missed the cut for the Chester Cup by one - in fact, most bookmakers were asleep at the wheel - and it is no surprise that his price has gone way down ever since.
However, I still think there is just enough juice in his price to recommend an investment at [9.0] or bigger in the Haydock's Swinton Hurdle at 15:10.
He does act on soft ground but there is a strong suspicion that a faster surface will see him in a much more potent light, and his Flat form in Ireland - where he was a smart middle-distance performer and rated 97 at his peak - underlines that.
He has twice looked likely to bag decent handicap hurdles before failing to get home in soft ground. He traded at [3.25] in running when looming large around the bend in the Fred Winter, and then went [1.33] in the charge when cruising into contention at Sandown last time, only for his run to flatten out in the rain-softened ground.
They have watered at Haydock, but it should be much better ground today, and he looks set to go very close on a speed track that should suit. He went up 2lb for that Sandown run but that doesn't deter me in the slightest, and the superb Bryony Frost takes off 3lb anyway.
I suppose it could be that he is a weak finisher, and his record in Ireland gives some credence to that angle, so you may want to put in an in-running lay to protect your stake. I am always a fan of [2.18] for some reason when I go down that avenue.
Of the others, William H Bonney has had a wind operation, and he has looked as though there may have been a problem in recent starts, his runs petering out tamely.
He is now effectively 7lb lower than when running much better than his finishing position suggested in the Greatwood in November (he is 1lb out of the handicap here), and is very dangerously weighted if there was an issue and it has been sorted.
He was 33/1 in a place this morning, and little wonder that didn't last. I was very tempted to have a saver on him at 20/1+ but all his best form has come with juice in the ground and I will give him a reluctant swerve.
Speedo Boy at [15.0] or bigger in 14:15 at Ascot
Act Of Valour at [9.0] or bigger in 15:10 at Haydock
Masham Star at [34.0] or bigger in 16:00 at Ascot