Tony Calvin: My 20/1 play for Saturday's Cesarewitch handicap

Racehorse Mondain
Can Mondain oblige for Tony at 20/1?

It's all eyes on the Cesarewitch Handicap at Newmarket this Saturday and Tony Calvin - who put up Arc winner Sottsas at 20/1+ - has found a bet at 20/1 with Betfair paying to five places

"I wouldn't be confident of Indianapolis' stamina in the likely conditions, and True Destiny would not want the rain to come (and he has been a touch disappointing too), so Mondain would be the best of the well-in brigade and he looks too big at a clear industry-best 20/1 with the Betfair Sportsbook."

Regular readers will know 2yo races are not really my punting bag, and juvenile contests dominate proceedings on the ITV cards at Newmarket on Friday and Saturday.

The girls get their day in the sun - or more probably rain, if you believe the forecasts - on Friday, where the Group 1 Fillies' Mile takes centre stage.

And on Saturday the boys are spoilt for choice with the Dewhurst (7f), Autumn (1m) and Zetland Stakes (1m2f) all being staged.

Luckily, some terrestrial handicaps are also thrown into the TV mix - and National Hunt racing gets a look-in with the Persian War being broadcast from Chepstow on Friday - and none are bigger this weekend than the Cesarewitch on the weekend.

I say bigger as that is the race that will attract the most cash but, with just 36 five-day entries, we look certain not to get a maximum field of 34.

Rain looks certain at HQ

The ground at Newmarket is currently soft, with an unsettled week ahead, but if one forecast is right - one site predicts 22mm of rain on Friday alone - then it is certainly not going to get any quicker, with heavy perhaps entering the picture.

So it seems safe to work on the basis of soft ground, which is not what 10/1 second favourite Verdana Blue's trainer Nicky Henderson would have hoped to be reading.

Yes, she finished third in a soft-ground Ebor last time and remains on a fair mark on 105 despite being raised 3lb for that run, but everything else about this high class hurdler's profile states she wants it far quicker than seems likely.

Her class and proven stamina could see her oblige - and that York run admittedly did hint at another ground dimension to her profile - but she isn't one to back ante-post, as connections may opt not to run her on less-than-ideal ground.

Coltrane heads the market at 13/2 and this is one seriously progressive horse, and unexposed too given this is just his sixth start, but he was hammered 11lb for his Melrose success and it would be unwise to assume he will definitely stay the extra 4f here.

Start with the best handicapped horses...

Officially the best handicapped horses among the five-day entries are Mondain and Not So Sleepy, as they are 3lb and 2lb well-in respectively. And a couple of others - Indianapolis and True Destiny - have 1lb in hand of the assessor.

That is not a bad starting point for punters looking at the race.

Of that well-treated quartet, Pontefract winner Not So Sleepy probably has the most convincing profile, being suited by plenty of cut and having finished fourth in this race last year, but he is only 10/1, so the betting is well aware of his claims.

I wouldn't be confident of Indianapolis' stamina in the likely conditions, and True Destiny would not want the rain to come (and he has been a touch disappointing too), so Mondain would be the best of the well-in brigade and he looks too big at a clear industry-best 20/1 with the Betfair Sportsbook.

I assume this race is the plan for him, as he certainly comes here in peak form after a 5 1/2-length defeat of a dangerously well-handicapped Fun Mac over an extended 2m1f at Ayr last time.

He powered home there, and that was not the first time he has looked a very strong stayer over 2m+, and he clearly bumped into one when second to Believe In Love when a good second on the soft on the July course previously.

I don't have any concerns with him over the trip or on the ground (his actions also suggests he handles it well), he is 3lb well-in, and he rates the bet in the race.

Yes, he hasn't really done it on the clock, he hasn't done it in a big field and, more worryingly, he can throw in a compete stinker - he has run inexplicably badly when last on two occasions this season - but that comes with the territory with this yard, I guess.

A yard which did win this race with the same owner's Scatter Dice in 2013, mind you.

With the Betfair Sportsbook offering five places, he should be backed at 20/1 each way, five places.

I will mention a 33/1 outsider in Vis A Vis, too.

He has no chance on recent evidence, but he has dropped down to a mark of just 83 as a result, and that is 7lb lower than when fourth in this race in 2018. He should also enjoy the soft ground, too.

But maybe more of him, and the confirmed Irish challengers, on Friday.

Have I spied a bit of Balmoral value?

One last observation before I sign off, though it falls short of recommending a bet.

The Betfair Sportsbook are the only firm offering five places on Ascot's Balmoral Handicap a week on Saturday, and I think they may have doubled up on their generosity by offering Raising Sand at 14/1.

I will stop short of putting him up here as connections of this horse clearly won't risk him on anything other than good to soft at worst - I did my money on him when he was pulled out at Newmarket in July, and he was again a late withdrawal here last month - and he is not likely to be a massive shortener in the market, so he wouldn't be the ideal ante-post betting vehicle.

But Ascot is currently sodden after last week's deluge, and the forecast for the coming few days looks fairly horrendous in parts too, so it is hard to see the track drying out too much in October, however quickly it drains.

That would play to the horse's chances on a course he obviously thrives at, and while you would struggle to call him well handicapped and he will meet some less exposed improvers, he is a horse that is more than likely to run his race when getting testing conditions over 7f at Ascot.

Yes, he beat only one home here last October and finished eighth in the Hunt Cup here in June, but he very well to finish as close as he did from his position on the track on the latter occasion - and that race has worked out very well, too - and he is 1lb lower here.

He was well backed for a 7f handicap before Ascot's abandonment on Saturday morning, a race in which one of the 7lb claimers-of-the-moment was booked, trainer's daughter Saffie Osborne, so they could well opt to lighten the load once again next week.

Anyway, I just thought I would mention it, as apparently the Balmoral is very much the plan for the horse after last weekend's no-show.

Feel free to ignore, though, especially as I am not putting my money where my mouth is.

Actually, make that two last observations, looking forward to that Ascot's Champions' Day on October 17, as plenty were on the ball when backing Le Revenant at 12/1 for the QEII before his odds-on win at Longchamp on Saturday. He is just 6s with the Sportsbook now.

I can't see him winning if the odds-on jolly Palace Pier turns up and runs his race, but the French horse finished second in the race last season - and this Group 1 is the plan again, connections confirmed after his weekend success - and relishes deep ground, so the each-way case for him is (or rather, was, at 12s,) clear, especially as the second-favourite Kameko must be a doubtful runner if the ground remains so deep.

Anyway, more on that major meeting next week.



April 14 2017 to end of racing March 2020 inclusive (all recommended exchange bets are settled at Betfair SP)

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