After landing a 12.011/1 winner on Wednesday, Tony Calvin returns with a look at the third day of the Newmarket Craven meeting where there's a hugely competitive sprint handicap to open the card. Our man is taking two against the field...
"But that should have at least tuned him up for this, he has been dropped 1lb for it, and he is fairly weighted on his Listed race win at York on good ground last season."
*Rebel Assault declared a non-runner on Thursday morning*
Masar can stop Lion from Roaring to success
I'll be a touch surprised if Roaring Lion doesn't win the Craven Stakes at 15:35 with something to spare, but shocks are not unheard of in this race.
Indeed, John Gosden sent out Foundation to finish second in this race at 4/6 two years ago, and you are probably asking for trouble if backing odds-on pokes in their Classic preps. And Roaring Lion was something of an errant genius last season.
Genius is undoubtedly stretching it, as is errant probably, but there is no doubt that he showed some high-class form and some wayward tendencies last season, notably with his second to Saxon Warrior in the Racing Post Trophy in a good time.
There is no doubting the potential of the unbeaten Glorious Journey (trainer has a good record when using first-time cheekpieces, so no worries there) but if there is to be a shock then Masar is probably overpriced at 8/1 to provide it.
His Solario win and his Group 1 efforts in the Lagardere and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf - he shaped a lot better than the bare form of his sixth at Del Mar implies - mark him down as the clear form rival to the favourite, but the fact that he comes here after a woeful run on the dirt in Meydan last month is probably not ideal.
Then again, that is why he is available at 8/1 and not half the price here. On balance, I can leave the race alone but Masar would be the one I would side with if given a free bet.
Two to keep on side in the opening sprint handicap
A free bet wouldn't even entice me to have an interest in the Wood Ditton at 14:25 and it strikes me as a complete waste of time having this as a terrestrial race. People primarily tune in to bet and surely next to no-one can have an opinion of a race which features 19 three-year-old newcomers.
To be truthful, none of the four races on ITV4 scream out as betting mediums, but I was surprised that Rebel Assault was priced up at 12/1 by the first two bookmakers to venture up on the opening 6f handicap at 13:50.
That price has held and he rates a small-interest bet at 15.014/1 or bigger.
Mark Johnston has had a pretty good Craven meeting so far, and Rebel Assault will hopefully be a lot sharper than he was at Newcastle last month, when he only beat one home in a 6f handicap.
But that should have at least tuned him up for this, he has been dropped 1lb for it, and he is fairly weighted on his Listed race win at York on good ground last season.
He likes to go forward, and there is no shortage of rivals for the lead here, but the price is big enough to compensate for the doubts.
I am going to know my punting fate early as my only other bet on the card is in this race, too, in the shape of Galloway Hills at 19.018/1 or better.
He, too, comes with guaranteed fitness, having been kept busy since making his debut in November, and he looks on a fair mark on his turf debut on the balance of his all-weather form.
He is well bred, being by Kyllachy out of the stable's smart mare Bonnie Brae, and she won in blinkers on good ground over 6f.
David Elsworth is eight from 47 since 2006 with first-time blinkers - so he clearly uses them sparingly, as well as to good effect - and Silvestre De Sousa has a fair 20% strike rate for the stable in the last five years (and 42 out of the 86 have finished in the first three).
No bets to be had in Abernant or at Cheltenham
We haven't seen Le Brivido since he beat Spirit Of Valor a neck in last season's Jersey and I suspect the fact that Andre Fabre brings him over here suggests he will not lack for fitness in the Abernant at 15:00. However, he is around the 5/2 mark in a tricky enough race, so no interest here.
The mares' 2m5f handicap chase at 14:40 is the only race on ITV4 at Cheltenham and unfortunately that holds minimal punting interest, too.
Sometimes days and cards fall that way, though, and there is no point in putting up tips and bets for the sake it.
I am sure others are obliged to, but not me; thankfully, the next good punting card is never too far away!
Back Rebel Assault at 15.014/1 or bigger in 13:50 at Newmarket
Back Galloway Hills at 19.018/1 or bigger 13:50 at Newmarket