Betfair Northumberland Plate Antepost Tips: Tony Calvin with an early each-way play

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Smart Champion pictured winning at Newcastle - is a repeat on the cards?
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There's plenty of good quality racing this weekend and Tony Calvin's eye is caught by the action at Newcastle where he senses some early value about a Betfair Northumberland Plate runner

"I think he has an outstanding chance."

Smart Champion at 10/1 each way, four places, in Betfair Northumberland Plate (15:35)

I have written a couple of times about why having a "tracker" is counter-productive and makes you lazy - that is to say having a list of horses to follow, whereby you are alerted when they are up entered up in races - and I bet there was a lot of pinging of email notifications when Mohaather appeared among the five-day entries for the Group 3 Criterion Stakes at Newmarket (14:40) on Saturday.

I imagine plenty will be steaming into him regardless of price, especially as Jim Crowley is already jocked up.

I'll be honest and say I was surprised the first firm to price up the race on Monday afternoon made him as big as 7/2 (though another subsequently went 4s, which was promptly taken).

Now, I am not sure he is even an intended runner, and he has the little matter of 19 rivals to contend with. Plus the fact that he is stepping back down to 7f on what will be very quick ground, if the blistering forecast holds true.

He has never raced on quicker than good, so will be even be allowed to take chance, especially given that his lightly-raced profile suggests he has had issues?

There are three in the field who are rated higher than him, too.

However, given that he went off a well-backed 6/1 chance for the Queen Anne last week and caught every eye in seventh - and he isn't penalized for his Greenham Stakes win in this grade last season - then I half expected him to be quoted at nearer 2s.

I wouldn't consider backing him as it stands - and he was beaten five lengths at Ascot after all - but quite clearly he would have finished a clear third with any kind of luck in running last week, and has to be first port of call for anyone looking at this contest.

But bookmakers get richer with horses with profiles like these, so at the very least I would wait until the day-of-race market before getting involved with him.

It really is a very competitive Group 3, at this stage anyway, and last year's winner Limato (an industry-best 7s with the Sportsbook) will have his ground, as will 2018 scorer Sir Dancealot, and my old mate Vale Of Kent would be a very solid proposition if lining up.

Indeed, stepping down to 7f on quick ground, and going hell for leather up front, could really suit Mark Johnston's Hunt Cup fourth and he would have been the 12/1 recommendation with the Sportsbook here had he not had an alternative engagement in a Listed race at Windsor on Sunday (as does his stablemate Cardsharp).

Tricky races on the Newmarket card

The ITV action from Newmarket on Saturday is due to kick off with a 0-105 7f handicap (14:05), in which the unbeaten Boccaccio heads the market. The well-bred Dubawi colt could easily be a league above these.

But these 3yo handicaps take a lot of winning - and solving - at this time of the year, and it doesn't look an attractive betting medium at this point.

For example, 5/1 second favourite Surf Dancer will probably be in many of the aforementioned trackers after being wiped out at Sandown on his return - even if he harshly got put up 4lb for it, rubbing salt into William Haggas' wounds - and other strong candidates are not hard to locate.

The other Newmarket race that has been priced up ante-post is the 3yo 1m2f Listed race (at 15:15), which has attracted, perhaps predictably after Royal Ascot, a disappointing five-day entry of just eight.

It still looks too tricky to call for me.

Given his strength in depth with his fillies in particular, John Gosden's unbeaten daughter of Camelot, Ricetta, is the predictable favourite.

When I did my betting masterclass piece for this site in April, I made a big point of saying that punters should look to sit tight when faced with horses who have more than one weekend engagement, and that is the case with Man Of The Night in here.

He clearly didn't get the run of the race on his return at Newbury but he is the 1m2f handicap off 94 later in the card (he went up just 1lb for Newbury), and that would be a more obvious destination for him.

Indeed, this race has the potential to really cut up, as Highest Ground is in overnight at Haydock on Wednesday, Do You Love Me is entered at Newcastle on Saturday and Thunderous also has a Windsor option on Sunday.

The Betfair Sportsbook are taking a big chance in offering Papa Power at 8s then on running plans alone (he is already jocked up, as is Volkan Star).

In summary though I can't see an ante-post play at Newmarket,

Alpinista of interest at Newcastle

I better give the Betfair-sponsored card at Newcastle a good airing though, for obvious reasons, and the Northumberland Plate will probably be the biggest betting heat of the weekend, though of course we also have the Irish Derby at the Curragh on Saturday night as well (19:15).

All four ITV races have been priced up, and I thought I would just focus on the Plate. Then I saw Betfair Sportsbook's 8/1 about the 3yo Alpinista in the Betfair-backed Group 3 Fillies' race (15:00), and I was interested.

Luke Morris is already jocked up and she doesn't hold any other entries this week, so I assume this is the plan, especially as it looks an excellent opportunity to get some black type.

She narrowly missed out on that when a length fourth in a 1m Longchamp Group 3 in September, but everything about her pedigree suggests she should blossom as she steps up in trip this year.

She is by Frankel and the first foal of the stable's smart staying mare Alwilda, who won at Southwell over a mile at two (she also had form on all-weather surfaces at Wolverhampton, Lingfield and Kempton) before winning at distances up to 2m3f.

So the step up to 1m2f will suit Alpinista here, she gets 12lb from the older fillies, and the stable are going great guns, with seven winners (and six seconds) from 27 runners at a strike rate of 27 per cent in the last fortnight.

I was going to put her up at 8/1 but I don't know if this is the plan - and master-placer Prescott could well have foreign jaunts planned for her, for all I know (her dam was a pot-hunter on the continent), as well as other domestic options down the line - so I am going to wait until I see the final declarations on Thursday, and I suggest you do, too.

I will be all over her if she is a confirmed runner later in the week, though.

So back to the big handicap, it is.

Smart Champion an early play

The Betfair Northumberland Plate (15:35) has attracted just the 46 runners (there is a maximum field of 20 on Saturday), so there have been easier races to sort out at the five-day stage, especially as the draw can be crucial around here.

We know this is the plan for Carnwennan, as Charlie Fellowes has confirmed as much, and last year's Vase winner has an obvious chance.

But the one that I believe should be favourite is Smart Champion, who is worth an each-way bet at 10/1, four places.

You will get better place terms on the day, but I don't think you will be getting 10/1.

Once again, I don't know if this is the target, but I will be very surprised if it isn't.

He beat Carnwennan over course and distance in February, and this very lightly-raced 5yo has everything going for him after a great run comeback run in the Ascot Stakes last week.

Hopefully, the race isn't deemed to be coming too quickly for him here - and he has backed up pretty quickly in the past - as he did a lot wrong there (notably being far too keen and fresh) but still finished to great effect from well off the pace.

Indeed, on another day, he may well have won - thankfully he didn't, as we were on the winner, ably ridden by "The Hammer" - so I am not fussed at all by a 2lb rise.

Indeed, that looks very generous to me.

That performance was also all the more meritorious given David Simcock's horses are all needing a run (well all of them bar recent Wolverhampton winner Rubia Bella, anyway ), and I am happy to take my chances that he lines up here.

I think he has an outstanding chance.

Tony Calvin,

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