ITV Races - Tony Calvin

Friday ITV Racing: Tony Calvin's thoughts on Newmarket's four televised races

Newmarket race action
The ITV Racing cameras are showing four races from Newmarket on Friday

"He does meet some improvers in here but, with seemingly no pace in opposition, it is not hard to see Benbatl being bounced out in front and making all, as he did last season."

ITV Racing are showing four races from the second day of Newmarket's Cambridgeshire meeting, and here with his thoughts on all four is Tony Calvin...

I am not one to force a tip or a bet, but I have never looked at an ITV offering before and said: "no thanks, nothing doing."

Sure, I often write a weekend ante-post article on a Tuesday and choose to keep my powder dry, but I normally always find at least one selection when it comes to looking at the next day's racing.

But not this time.

I know this sounds a bit pseuds corner but I would not be true to myself if I recommended a bet on something that I had no intention of having personally - to me that is a complete no-no - and thankfully the team at Betfair give me free rein to tip as I punt.

I know some on TV, and in print, are happy to recommend away without investing themselves - and, indeed even putting up a bet without a price - and that is fair enough, I guess, if they are comfortable with it, but that certainly isn't me.

And the varying weather forecasts for Newmarket on Friday - some are suggesting minimal rain, and others 10mm+ - do not help, either.

However, I will walk you through ITV's four races at Newmarket.

You never know, you may find I inadvertently make a convincing case for a non-bet that persuades you to part with your cash!

Cloak the closest I came to a bet

First up on ITV is the 17-runner 1m fillies' and mares' Listed race at 13:50 and it is probably as tricky a terrestrial race to solve as I have seen in recent weeks.

William Haggas obviously watched Silence Of The Lambs on Tuesday night as three of his four in here wear first-time headgear - that is a Hannibal Lecter reference if you didn't get it - with Wejdan and Tomorrow's Dream sporting an initial tongue-tie and First Kingdom getting cheek pieces, and he also has Ummalnar, who was put in as the early favourite on Wednesday afternoon despite not having raced since winning at Ascot in July 2019.

Picking between the Haggas quartet is hard enough, but throw in some improvers such as Bounce The Blues, and unexposed sorts like the unbeaten, twice-raced Bizzi Lizzi (and this filly is beautifully bred too, from a great family) and your head hurts.

I suppose the obvious one to side with is the 1,000 Guineas runner-up Cloak Of Spirits, who is the form horse here on that performance.

Her detractors will undoubtedly point to the fact that she has not progressed from the Classic run, which is true - you can easily argue her latest Doncaster run was her worst run this season on the book - but she has certainly not been disgraced in any of those starts in Group company and her two best career efforts have come here on the Rowley course at Newmarket.

She is also the stand-out on the clock, too.

She is probably the closest I came to a bet on the card, though the early 7/1 with the Betfair Sportsbook went and I do also acknowledge her slightly regressive profile and the number of credible rivals ranged against her.

Yorkshire Oaks runner-up a fair price

Alpinista probably hasn't been afforded the respect in the betting she deserves after her Yorkshire Oaks second to Love, and odds of around 9/4 about her in the Group 3 at 14:25 are perfectly fair.

She may have been a touch flattered there as she was clearly ridden to finish second but, whatever way you cut it, that was in Group 1 company and that is the best form on offer here.

I would stop short of saying 9/4 is generous though, given she faces four progressive last-time-out winners and a talented filly in Franconia, who is clearly better than she showed last time, and Alpnista did have to miss Doncaster a fortnight ago as her blood was not quite right.

Alpnista's supporters will probably be most concerned by Katara, even if the horse the hugely progressive Stoute filly beat so easily on the July course last time only finished third of four off a mark of 96 in handicap company next time out.

Easy to pass on Monday but rivals make little appeal

I can't tell you why, but they clearly like Monday at Ballydoyle - soz - and so do the layers as they make her the favourite in the Rockfel Stakes at 15:00.

Attempted jokes aside, Monday did record a good time when beating the form horse in a 7f Listed race at Leopardstown on Irish Champions Weekend, and she is another of those ridiculously well-bred fillies off the Coolmore conveyor belt.

But she did get on the favoured rail and never looked back at Leopardstown, and she may have to do it a harder way against better opposition here.

She is easily passed over at the odds, and none of her four rivals are sufficiently temptingly priced up to row in against her, though Santosha has a better form chance on her first try at 7f than quotes of around 6/1 suggest.

Benbatl a likely winner but absence and recent rain a concern

As with Cloak Of Spirits, you can venture that Kameko has not progressed since his Guineas win, though in his case he has been moved from pillar to post trip-wise and he didn't get the rub of the green in the Sussex Stakes (though he would have finished second at best there, anyway).

Either way, he has a job on here in the 15:35 with a 5lb penalty for his Guineas win and a peak-form Benbatl, 5-length winner of this race last season, in opposition.

The Godolphin horse would win this if at his peak, as he is a proper top-notcher.

His state of readiness is unknown, as he hasn't raced since his Saudi third in February, but he was the subject of good reports before being withdrawn from Goodwood because of soft ground last month, so I imagine he will be straight enough.

He does meet some improvers in here but, with seemingly no pace in opposition, it is not hard to see Benbatl being bounced out in front and making all, as he did last season.

If there is a bet in the race, he is probably it at around 5/2 on the exchange, but that is a wager I can do without in truth, given his absence and he could have certainly done without the 17mm of rain that fell at the course on Wednesday, too. And that Friday forecast probably worries connections, too.

If, unlike me, you are having a bet, then the very best of luck.

Back tomorrow, hopefully armed with a punt or two.


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