Channel 4 Racing Tips: Soft ground to suit Khubala in Gold Cup

Khubala is Tony's pick in Saturday's Ayr Gold Cup
Khubala is Tony's pick in Saturday's Ayr Gold Cup

Despite being on a mini break to re-charge his batteries (or so he says!), value hunter Tony Calvin has found time to study tomorrow's Channel 4 races and he's arrived at these three selections...

Recommended Bets

Back Khubala @ 16.015/1 or better - Ayr 15:50

Back Trail Blaze @ 17.016/1 or better - Ayr 14:40

Back Black Spirit @ 9.08/1 or better - Newbury 14:55

This game is the greatest of levellers. And also incredibly frustrating.

On Monday afternoon, I was sitting in my study and thought I would re-charge the batteries, get away from Betfair and the form book for a bit, and stay in my brother's villa in Majorca for a few days, rent, racing and betting-free.

At 5.40am on Tuesday morning, I was on the plane. The return flight only cost £148. A bargain. Or so I thought.

The relaxation didn't last long though, as when I finally succumbed and got internet access in a restaurant on Wednesday evening I saw that Shelford had won at Yarmouth that day, at 20-1, on his first start for Mick Appleby. Just as well a certain leading exchange is blocked over here, as I would have been head-long in Pollenca Port had I been able to clock the Betfair BSP.

Those who followed me in over a cliff on Mr Red Clubs at Chester last week - apologies by the way - know the background to that particular kick in the cojones (click here for a reminder).

It also reminded me of watching ATR last week and seeing Hugh Taylor's face when told by Martin Kelly that winning Southwell gamble Cosimo de Medici had been backed from 14-1 to 11-4 while he was away on holiday with his family. Hugh, the best tipster and most convincing analyst in the business - Channel 4 anyone? - loves his Southwell. And I thought he was going to throw up on the spot. I nearly did on Wednesday night. And it wasn't the subsequent litre of Hendricks dulling the pain.

Anyway, no point crying, any more, at least. To the weekend.

Ayr 15:50 - Khubala

Hugo Palmer hit the headlines with a double on the final day of the St Leger meeting last Saturday and he could be in the news again courtesy of Khubala in the Ayr Gold Cup at 15:50.

Palmer's four-year-old looked seriously progressive earlier in the season when his runs included a victory over Tropics (with whom he's hugely better off at the weights) and fourth in the Wokingham.

He may have been slightly below that form since, but Chester didn't appear to suit him in a Listed contest two starts ago and he was arguably out of his depth when running in a German Group 2 last time, although he made eye-catching late progress.

Those runs have ensured he hasn't crept any further up the weights, though, and the clincher is the ground, which will be the softest he has run on all season.

His progression as a three-year-old began on soft ground last term, so the fact he has bettered it by some way on faster surfaces, which are not supposed to suit, surely augurs well.

The trainer has also stated that this has been a long-term target because he could almost guarantee preferable ground and if Khubala does come on again for it he has to be in the mix, so 16.015/1 or bigger looks plenty fair enough in an obviously competitive heat.

His draw in 23 looks fine as there is plenty of pace on his side.

Ayr 14:40 - Trail Blaze

Punters may well look to the Silver Cup at 14:40, for draw pointers, but just as often as not it is irrelevant when assessing the next race, and I'd be more interested in where the best pace is.

That's not really an issue with this selection, though, as Trail Blaze looks certain to be up with the leaders most of the way anyway. And hopefully all the way.

He is usually seen over further and ran a cracker in a big handicap over 7f at Ascot two weeks ago. However, conditions are clearly going to be fairly testing and he wouldn't be the first 7f-1m performer to win a big 6f handicap at Ayr in September - think Regal Parade, Redford, Advanced to name but three.

Back him at 17.016/1 or better.

Newbury 14:55 - Black Spirit

Over at Newbury there are quite a few unexposed sorts in the Dubai Duty Free Handicap at 14:55, but I think we should give Black Spirit another chance following his fine run at Doncaster last week, when we were with him at a big price, and he ran a cracker.

He got going a little too late then, but that was a red-hot contest and he clearly returned to something like his best. Clive Cox's six-year-old won the Group 3 Arc Trial on this card last season and, while he would arguably like the ground to dry out a bit, it is likely to do just that to judge from the weather forecast. Regardless, he'll be fine as long as it isn't very deep.

At 9.08/1 or bigger he looks worth another shot.

As does that gin bottle. Adios til next week from sunny Pollenca.

Recommended Bets

Back Khubala @ 16.015/1 or better - Ayr 15:50
Back Trail Blaze @ 17.016/1 or better - Ayr 14:40
Back Black Spirit @ 9.08/1 or better - Newbury 14:55

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