Saturday Racing Tips: Pay The King can reign supreme at Sandown

The Channel 4 cameras are at Sandown on Saturday afternoon
The Channel 4 cameras are at Sandown on Saturday afternoon

A competitive day of racing lies ahead with some tough races to solve on Channel 4 this afternoon, but our big-price betting guru Tony Calvin has arrived at three selections for you to consider including an ex Paul Nicholls inmate...

"The Hammond stable is in good form - he has already matched last season's tally of 12 winners - and 5lb claimer Joe Colliver has a very decent strike rate of 15% on hurdlers considering he gets on a lot of big-priced horses (hence a level stakes profit of £73 this season)."

Back Pay The King @ 30.029/1 15:00 Sandown

When I started punting on a regular basis - and it will come as no surprise to many that came before my teenage years - the phrase "Cash is King" had a real ring of truth to it.

There was nothing better than going home, or rather straight back into work, with your pockets full of crumpled notes after a late 80s Racing Post card school with Bruce "The Punting Hairpiece" Jackson and Dave "Computer Kid" Stewart - I should mention the "Dog Mafia" of Millward, Austin, Cremin, Kay and Kealy in case they feel left out, and I am actually having a poker night round mine on Thursday gents - or having it right off in the local Ladbrokes.

But, sadly, many of our betting rings and shops are empty these days, and that is a pretty sad state of affairs for the older generation of punters.

But, if you are getting too downbeat and nostalgic at the hard and changing times for on and off-course bookies, up pops that Dudley Moore of layers, Geoff Banks, on tomorrow's Morning Line to nip the sympathy firmly in the bud.

Indeed, getting on, and then getting weighed in, from some bookmakers these days is more than half the battle, which brings us nicely to my main tip of the day in the 15:00 at Sandown in the shape of Pay The King at odds of 30.029/1.

At the start of last season, Paul Nicholls rated him as one of the best handicapped horses in his yard off a mark of 116 and he looked set for a profitable campaign when an eye-catching fifth at the Paddy Power meeting, where every course taken was a wide one.

But things didn't work out for him in two starts after that and he was sold for just 18,000 guineas in May.

Micky Hammond wasted no time in getting a return on that investment when the horse won over 2m4f at Wetherby in October and he put a poor run behind him when a good third to a couple of well-fancied horses on the same track over 2m6f on Boxing Day.

Now, we are getting the price because the soft ground is a worry - the formbook tells us that the testing conditions have to be a concern, but his two soft ground handicap failures have been over 3m+ and he was far too keen in his heavy ground bumper, so it isn't conclusive by any means - but I am willing to take the risk over this more suitable trip, and I don't doubt that he has races in him off a mark of 115.

And maybe the ground at Sandown won't be that bad. It normally rides softer on the hurdle course, but there looks to be plenty of good to soft in the official description.

The Hammond stable is in good form - he has already matched last season's tally of 12 winners - and 5lb claimer Joe Colliver has a very decent strike rate of 15% on hurdlers considering he gets on a lot of big-priced horses (hence a level stakes profit of £73 this season).

And, while I am firm believer in ratings being what they are, I don't think carrying just 9st 10lb around here will be a negative for the horse, who is a big strapping sort who will think that he is running free.

I must stress that the doubt about the ground is why we are getting the big price - and, I'll be honest, I asked Nicholls this morning about his former inmate and he said "it needs good ground" - but that is a risk I am willing to take myself.

With that negative in mind, I am going to have a saver in the race. I wouldn't put anyone off Imperial Leader off a slipping mark, particularly with the stable having a couple of welcome winners recently after spell, but I think Saffron Wells is about a solid 8.07/1 chance as you will get in these types of races.

He is 3lb better off for a 2 ¾ length beating by favourite Polamco at Newbury last month, has good course form in soft ground, and comes here on the back of a career-best effort in the Lanzarote last time.

He clearly had no chance with the runaway winner there, but he finished 15 lengths clear of a decent sort in fourth, and a lively one in Dell 'Arca - who remains firmly on my Cheltenham handicap radar - in fifth.

It'll be disappointing for win and place backers if he is out of the frame, at the very least, and he has a good winning chance.

Even though he probably wants softer ground, I think Benny's Mist could be worth chancing in the 15:35.

It is a tricky race so I will only be having a small bet, but if he reproduces the form of his Grand Sefton third last time then I think he is one to beat.

In fact, while his overall form suggests soft ground is preferable, probably one of his best efforts - a second to Ma Filleule, again over the National fences, at Aintree in the Topham - came on good ground.

And he was a close third over course and distance on good to soft a couple of seasons ago, too.

I don't have much of an opinion on the 13:50 or the 14:25. However, while it's not on C4 and not a tip as such, I will let you know that I will be chucking a few quid on Lil Rockerfeller in the opener at 12:40.

I was quite taken by his debut third at Wetherby, and he could take the beating getting weight from the penalised winners.

I think Kaki De La Pree is the one to beat in the C4 race at Wetherby at 15:20 if the meeting gets the go ahead, but not enough for a bet.

Over at Ffos Las on heavy ground, it promises to be as attritional as it gets, and I suspect you will know your betting fate early on here, as plenty of horses won't be fancying it from the off.

And by the end of 3m4f in the West Wales National at 14:40, I don't think too many will be fancying it by the end either!

Nothing floats my boat in that marathon contest but I think William's Wishes could be worth a couple of quid in the Welsh Champion Hurdle at 14:05.

Lewis Gordon has ridden three winners for the stable this season from a handful of rides, so he claims a very handy 10lb here, and William's Wishes already looks a fairly-treated horse.

He is rated 6lb lower over hurdles than fences - he is better known as a chaser but ran pretty well when fourth to The New One at Haydock in November - and, crucially, is a heavy ground winner.

The trip is a question mark in this ground but he is a hold-up horse and hopefully Gordon will hang on to him as long as possible, and pounce after the last.

He is worth a small investment at 19.018/1 or bigger.

Recommended Bets
Back Pay The King @ 30.029/1 15:00 Sandown
Back Saffron Wells @ 8.07/1 15:00 Sandown

Back Benny's Mist @ 10.09/1 15:35 Sandown
Back William's Wishes @ 19.018/1 14:05 Ffos Las

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