Saturday Racing Tips: Special Tiara can crown big day at Cheltenham

There are nine races at Cheltenham (above) on Saturday
There are nine races at Cheltenham (above) on Saturday

Tony Calvin has plenty of options this Saturday, as he selects his bets from a glorious card of televised racing at Cheltenham and more at Doncaster...

Recommended Bets
Back Special Tiara at 6.611/2 in the 13:45 at Cheltenham
Back Ziga Boy at 13.012/1 for the win and 3.55/2 for the place in the 15:40 at Doncaster
Back Henri Parry Morgan 60.059/1 win and 10.09/1 place in the 16:00 at Cheltenham

When you have a stellar nine-race card like Cheltenham's on Saturday, why can't the powers-that-be bend the rules for once and make it 48-hour declarations for the meeting? That would at the very least allow ITV to promote it two days in advance across their various channels to try and maximise viewers come Saturday afternoon. And, as we know, this is a numbers-driven game.

Highlighting the fact that the likes of Thistlecrack and Unknowhatimeanharry - and a whole host of well-known stars and names, past and present, and future stars in the conditions races - are certain runners would surely be a powerful draw, as well as giving the red-tops (and indeed the racing media, in general) an extra day to finalise their weekend pull-outs.

It would only need to the BHA to send out reminder emails and phone calls to trainers throughout the week, and again just before declaration time on Thursday morning to ensure that no-one was caught unawares, to make it work.

However, I'm sure there is a logical reason why it doesn't or can't happen so I will shut up and crack on.

The fact that the Clarence House has been re-directed to this meeting has meant that last week's second favourite Ar Mad has given the race a swerve.

However, at least the better ground has seen Special Tiara enter the fray and he actually appeals as the betting option in the 13:45 at 6.611/2 against the odds-on Un De Sceaux.

He was admittedly pretty unimpressive when scrambling home to beat Sir Valentino by a half-length at Kempton over Christmas - he had 16lb to spare on official ratings going into the race - but he normally takes a race or two to hit peak form and at his best he is no 9/2+ shot.

He was rated just 1lb inferior to Un De Sceaux after finishing a nose behind that horse in the Champion Chase last March, and is a two-time Grade 1 winner. He does like to go from the front and there could be some burn-up for the lead here as the favourite, Royal Regatta and Uxizandre have all been known to force it, but hopefully common sense will prevail and they don't cut each other's throats.

Yes, let Special Tiara go on, because he could take some catching on this ground, though I concede he may simply be a regressive horse these days at 10yo.

An obvious word of warning though. Keep an eye on the weather, as rain is forecast at Cheltenham from this evening, so any serious amount would not be good news at all and will see his price drift markedly.

The Cotswold Chase at 14:15 again features Smad Place and Many Clouds - they have finished first and second in the race for the past two years, with the score currently one piece - but it will be a shock if that happens this time around with Thistlecrack in the line-up.

I expect the favourite will harden in the Gold Cup betting after winning here but, after backing Smad Place at massive odds for that race, I'm hoping that the grey runs a blinder to put any Ryanair plans for him firmly on hold.

I won't get involved in the Cross Country race at 14:50 - never have, never will - and the Grade 2 novices' hurdle at 15:25, also looks a non-betting race to me.

Uknowhatimeanharry loves it here and is quite obviously a justified short-priced favourite in the Cleeve Hurdle at 16:00 even if Ballyoptic didn't look beaten to my eye when unseating in the last at Ascot and there are several in here who you can make a fair case for at the odds.

I am going to take a total flier and put up Henri Parry Morgan 60.059/1 win and 10.09/1 place. Now, this horse has spectacularly failed to deliver on the abundant promise of his second to Native River in a Grade 1 at Aintree last season, and he could just be having a confidence-booster back over hurdles here.

But I put him up in this column in a 2m5f handicap chase here last time (when in a first-time visor) and I was beginning to count my money just before he fell four out. I am pretty sure he would have won - and won well - that day had he stood up, so I have to give him a chance at these odds back over the lesser obstacles.

He could well be outclassed but I think he has the raw ability to figure and here is hoping that he can follows in the footsteps of Knockara Beau, who won this race at 66-1 after similarly being beaten off a mark of 148 over fences at Cheltenham the time before.

In the RUK-only races, Singlefarmpayment looks well-weighted off 142 in the 12:35. His recent improvement has come when he was stepped up in trip but the way he tanked through the race over 3m1f here last time suggested to me that this shorter trip wouldn't be a problem.

The handicapper upped him 9lb for that novice chase defeat of Arpege D'Alene and Label Des Obeaux, but the placed horses both ran well in defeat last time and I think he is well worth a look at 6/1 or better. I will stop just shy of putting him up as a bet here, though.

In the 13:10, Foxtail Hill and Thomas Crapper would be my two against the field but I'll leave this race alone for betting purposes.

But Foxtail Hill did remarkably well to win, given he jumped violently left all the way round at Kempton last time - going left-handed here must suit him better - and Thomas Crapper has slipped to a very attractive mark, so I couldn't put you off either of those if you fancied throwing a few quid at the race.

I think the betting has got it right in the last at 16:35, as Drumcliff - who I put up ante-post for last week's race at Ascot - and Le Rocher (also declared at Uttoxeter) fully deserve to be towards the top of the market.

As such, I am happy just to watch the race.

On Tuesday, I nailed my colours to the mast of Out Sam at 14/1 each-way with the Betfair Sportsbook for the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster, and you will at least be sitting pretty if you acted on that advice.

He is now a best-priced 8-1 in the marketplace now for the race at 15:40, and you can read the reasoning here - and if you haven't already played I think that is still a fair price.

In my ante-post piece I could have added that he will be suited by a return to a left-handed track on the evidence of his effort at Kempton last time - he jumped out to his left all the way there, and couldn't get into a rhythm as a result - but by the same token I could easily have highlighted the fact that he now has to go and show he can do it in a big-field handicap.

However, I am pretty sure he is handicapped to run a big race, and the same comment also applies to the favourite Bigbadjohn, as he looks weighted to go very close on a strict reading of his match defeat of recent runaway Kempton winner Our Kaempfer or his second to Thistlecrack in a five-runner race, both at Newbury.

If he can translate that level of form to this big-field handicap then a mark of 136 gives him a leading chance, but you could argue that last year's winner Ziga Boy is more solid.

He is a dual course and distance winner, including when beating Coologue by three-and-a-quarter lengths off just a 4lb lower mark in this race last season, and put in his best effort of the campaign when third here last month. He could be hard to kick out of the frame, and I think he is a worth a saver at 13.012/1 for the win and 3.55/2 for the place.

Remember, if you bet on the exchange, original place terms stand even if there is a non-runner in this 16-runner race.

In truth, I don't fancy that many in this field - Potters Cross would be my pick of the others - but if Out Sam puts in an adequate round of jumping (maybe connections will try and race him more prominently to enable that?) then I expect to be collecting on a place at the bare minimum.

Doncaster is an excellent card in its own right but the other two races on ITV4 don't really float my boat.

The 13:25 and 15:05, are obviously good Grade 2 contests well worth a look but watching and betting are two different things.

Recommended Bets
Back Special Tiara at 6.611/2 in the 13:45 at Cheltenham
Back Ziga Boy at 13.012/1 for the win and 3.55/2 for the place in the 15:40 at Doncaster
Back Henri Parry Morgan 60.059/1 win and 10.09/1 place in the 16:00 at Cheltenham

Already Recommended
Back Out Sam 14-1 each-way ante-post for the Sky Bet Chase

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