Friday Racing Tips: Sybarite and Little Jon well worth a look at Cheltenham

Little Jon and Sybarite both run at Cheltenham on Friday
Little Jon and Sybarite both run at Cheltenham on Friday

Racing pundit extraordinaire Tony Calvin is back with four horses worth backing at Cheltenham and Musselburgh on Friday...


"I think Pearl Castle could also take a lot of stopping in the 14:10. I put him up at Doncaster last month, only for him to be pulled out on account of the ground turning heavy on the day. There should be no such problems on that front here, and he is weighted to win off a mark of 137."

Prepare for this bet to be worth next to nothing after two flights - and he is likely be trading at least double his Betfair SP by this point - but Sybarite could just be worth chancing at odds of 26.025/1 or bigger in the 14:30 at Cheltenham.

If you don't know Sybarite, then you are probably much the richer for it, as he is a thoroughly mulish and reluctant character who tends to try to down tools as early as possible in his races.

But there was a bit more promise back over hurdles at Haydock last time, the handicapper has dropped him a further 2lb, he is a course and distance winner who is at home in testing ground - and the final piece of the jigsaw could be the reapplication of the tongue tie.

He last wore it when a decent fifth at Haydock off a 6lb higher mark in May, and I just think this strongly-run race in a big field on a track where he has run some of his better races - indeed he was beaten only three lengths in this race last season - could just spark a revival.

If you wanted to simply just back him in-running, I'd fully understand, but I'll be getting excited if the old hound is within ten lengths of the leader between the last two flights!

Elsewhere on the Cheltenham card, I wasn't expecting Little Jon to be a double-figure price in an admittedly competitive 11-runner handicap chase at 13:55. Back him at 12.011/1.

He showed unexpected stamina reserves to win in the soft at Newbury on his penultimate start and his run behind Village Vic here last time is a virtual throw-out, as he was always fighting a losing battle after a bad blunder at halfway.

He started at 8-1 that day, so double-digit quotes look too big to me, albeit he does meet two or three in here on a winning roll and some other dangerously well-handicapped horses.

The Grade 2 Novices' Chase at 13:20 is a cracking contest and it features a horse that I have had an ante-post nibble on for the RSA in Blaklion.

But, with a 7lb penalty and stepping back significantly in trip after winning over an extended 3m1f here last month, I won't be backing him to win this contest.

If he does manage to oblige I'll obviously be delighted though, as this seven-runner race is packed full of unexposed and very promising novice chasers and it will take plenty of winning. Who will win is another matter though, and I don't have a clue!

The Relkeel at 15:05 is the highlight of the card and it is another race that is hard to get a betting handle on.

Cole Harden first landed on my World Hurdle radar when third in this race last year, and he may well win this with the Newbury reappearance run under his belt.

But this is no easy task, giving weight to the likes of Top Notch, who should be suited by the step up in trip, and the highly-progressive Virgilio, and at around 4-1 he is easy to pass up. And clearly a back-to-form Whisper or the unbeaten hurdler Bobs Worth would be players, too.

In the RUK-only races, the 12:10 promises to be a very informative novices' hurdle, but nothing stands out at the prices to me.

I don't tend to get involved in bumpers, so happy to leave the 15:40 well alone and the staying handicap chase at 12:45 looks another trappy race too, with perhaps Financial Climate the most interesting. But no bet for me.

Doctor Phoenix is well worth another chance in Musselburgh's 13:35 and he could prove very hard to beat, indeed. Back him at 10.09/1.

I backed him in a far more competitive contest at Cheltenham last time but, ridden far more patiently than he had been when winning impressively at Lingfield and Haydock previously, he could never get into the race, despite travelling pretty well throughout.

They obviously decided to give him a more patient ride to last home over the longer 2m5f trip that day - his two earlier wins this season were over 2m, but he had good winning 2m4f form over hurdles last season - but it didn't work out, and hopefully they will resort to more aggressive tactics here, which will bring his fluent and accurate jumping more to the fore.

The handicapper has dropped him 1lb, and connections obviously feel that a first-time tongue tie will help him, too. He made a big impression on me when winning his two starts this season, and he could well outclass this field off what I consider to be a decent mark of 140.

I think Pearl Castle could also take a lot of stopping in the 14:10.

I put him up at Doncaster last month, only for him to be pulled out on account of the ground turning heavy on the day. There should be no such problems on that front here, and he is weighted to win off a mark of 137.

He hasn't raced over hurdles since April but he has been in good form on the Flat since, and warmed up for this contest with a decent third off a mark of 91 in a Lingfield 1m4f handicap just under a fortnight ago.

He is best on a decent surface and rates a fair bet at 4.57/2 or bigger, a bit shorter than the odds we normally play at but this is a very winnable contest, with Aristo Du Plessis the obvious danger.


Recommended Bets

Back Doctor Phoenix at 10.09/1 in the 13:35 at Musselburgh
Back Little Jon at 12.011/1 in the 13:55 at Cheltenham
Back Pearl Castle at 5.59/2 in the 14:10 at Musselburgh
Back Sybarite at 26.025/1 in the 14:30 at Cheltenham


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