There's some top class action at Haydock on Betfair Chase Day, and our resident tipster Tony Calvin has a trio of fresh tips to consider as well as one at Ascot...
"Witness his second at Kempton last season when splitting Frodon and Top Notch, rated 168 and 161 respectively, albeit in receipt of 6lb, in a very quick time. He was only beaten 1¼ lengths by Frodon after trading at evens in the run."
Three top-class chasers going at it in the Betfair Chase at 15:00 so what is not to like?
The last two winners of this race, Lostintranslation and course favourite Bristol De Mai, locking horns with the King George winner Clan Des Obeaux should be a proper contest.
For reasons I will attempt to explain though, I believe there could be a right boil-over on Saturday afternoon, and hopefully one provided by Keeper Hill and not Bellshill (though both have been backed from 50/1 on Thursday, with the latter halving in price).
Yes, I know he is rated only 150, and he doesn't have a prayer on the official figures, but all of the front three in the market can chuck in shockers and first time up in the mud at Haydock may just get them all beat.
Clan des Obeaux has been beaten on his last four reappearances, for starters, but I appreciate the case against the last year's 1-2 is much harder to make.
However, Lostintranslation is not bullet-proof first time out, he ran no kind of race at Kempton and the form of the Colin Tizzard stable continues to be variable (if improving), while the output of the Nigel Twiston-Davies yard leaves a bit to be desired too, and his grey is getting on for 10 now after not being seen since running moderately in the Gold Cup.
Throw a dart on Betfair Chase outisder
Now, I can hardly say all that without referencing that Keeper Hill's trainer Warren Greatrex is in even worse form, with one winner in October and none this month, but at least his horse has shown his well-being with a good fourth in the Charlie Hall and he is the only one of this quintet coming here with the advantage of a run this season.
Hopefully, that is a factor that the market has under-estimated.
Keeper Hill went off a 50/1 chance at Wetherby but he ran well for a very long way there, turning for home in a close third and still travelling nicely enough (he hit 9.89/1 in running).
His run petered out but if he can build on that, then this course winner - he won the 2m5f handicap chase on this card last season - could just have a better squeak than odds of 50/1+ suggest.
I know his jumping can fall apart but he is surely better than a mark of 150 suggests. Witness his second at Kempton last season when splitting Frodon and Top Notch, rated 168 and 161 respectively, albeit in receipt of 6lb, in a very quick time. He was only beaten 1¼ lengths by Frodon after trading at evens in the run.
I admit to snaffling some 50/1 each-way on Thursday and his price has shortened a touch, but back him at 40.039/1 win and 7.06/1 place, or bigger, to minimum stakes on the exchange. He will probably blow out but it is a dart worth throwing. The place market should be up on Friday afternoon.
Kaizer can rule at a big price
Others may disagree, but it is an excellent move by all concerned for ITV to replace the six-runner Graduation Chase with the 17-runner handicap hurdle at 13:50.
Betting funds the sport.
Kid Commando is the obvious first port of call after his Ascot win and the handicapper didn't hammer him for that either. It could have been worse than a 7lb rise for a 4¾-length win, with 10 lengths back to the third.
He was 11/2 in a place on Thursday afternoon and I thought that was fair enough, as I don't think this point winner will have any problems going up to 2m3f.
However, this is one devilishly hard race to call, as it is packed full of possible winners, and if you can oppose Kid Commando with one, you can oppose him with 10.
Everything is about price though and I liked Flash The Steel at around 10s, but Kaizer twice as much as 20/1. Back the latter win and place.
He doesn't have the sexy profile of quite a few of these but he is still only a 5yo and he put up a career-best effort when winning over 2m1f at Carlisle last time.
He did go up 7lb for that 2-length win - the same as Kid Commando did by winning double the distance - but he was beating a hat-trick seeker and did so in a good time, despite claimer Billy Garritty (who rides again here, though he now only claims 3lb) nearly forgetting to sidestep a dolled-off area of the course on the run-in.
This horse shapes to me as if this greater test of stamina will suit, too. He is a strong stayer at 2m and the in-running comment for his sole start at 2m5f at Kelso in September is plain wrong, as he actually stayed on well on the long run-in. And he was a stayer on the Flat too, just being touched off over 2m at Musselburgh in August, so this shouldn't surprise.
He could go really well off his featherweight for a yard with a couple of recent winners under their belt, and he rates an each way-bet at 20/1, five places, with the Betfair Sportsbook.
It always makes me laugh when I hear people assess a horse's physique from the studio or from home, but he does look a little 'un to my very untrained eye, so carrying just 10st 1lb in this deep ground (which he loves) could be another plus, too.
Relegate the pick but price has shortened
Relegate and Third Wind were the two that I liked most at the five-day stage in the staying handicap hurdle at 14:25 largely on their red-hot Pertemps form in March, but they have shortened up since (as they would do, I suppose, having made the race).
This really is one handicap that will give you a headache and a half though, as so many have chances in a brilliant renewal.
Relegate is probably my idea of the most likely winner, especially if the first-time cheek pieces make her travel better early doors (I couldn't find one recent example of her trainer running one in this type of headgear), but I'd be pushing it to say she is a bet at around 6/1 now.
Yes, her Pertemps fifth and comeback run in a Grade 2 give her excellent claims, but this race is teeming with potential winners, though I don't particularly fancy Main Fact and Imperial Alcazar at the top of the market.
Great race, but no punt.
Reminds me of the "Nice Legs, Shame About the Boat Race" song from yesteryear, that, for all you oldies out there.
Happy with Perfect position but Don is added too
I am happy with that position, especially as the 9/4 ante-post favourite Cloudy Glen has not rocked up.
As he has shortened up, I see no reason to go in again on last year's winner, even though Perfect Candidate has plenty in his favour and he will be in his element if even more weekend rain arrives to make this a bottomless slog.
He is a player, all right - I want to see him pinged out on or near the front end this time, as he wasn't on his return at Aintree - though you can see why Don Poli and Midnight Tune head the betting at around 6/1 on the exchange.
In fact, Don Poli is suggested as a small saver at 7.06/1 or bigger.
Much water has flowed under many bridges since he was a staple in Grade 1 races from 2014 to 2017, winning three of them, but he has sunk to a mark of just 130 and he shaped much better than a final beaten distance of 17 lengths suggests on his debut for Dan Skelton over 3m1f at Aintree last month.
He travelled with a lot of zest before getting tired in the straight there, and a further 2lb drop was handy, and it is not hard to see him relishing this 3m4f slog.
In a recent Racing Post stable tour, his trainer gave you plenty of encouragement as to his chances here too, so this could have been a long-term plan.
He said: "He's a big, heavy horse who takes a bundle of getting fit, and I was encouraged by his reappearance fourth on soft ground at Aintree, where he just got tired late on. He'll go to Haydock next time over three and a half miles and I think there's still a fire burning in him."
Let us hope so, Dan.
Interesting Grade 2s at Ascot but no bets
They won't say it publicly, but Ascot will be pretty downbeat by the fact their brace of Grade 2s have attracted just seven runners between them. Luckily their other ITV race, the 2m handicap chase, got eight, for the time being at least. Fingers crossed there.
To be fair though, the 2m5f Grade 2 chase at 14:05 has shades of the Betfair Chase in that it is actually a very good renewal, and deep in terms of quality and class, if not numbers.
The Sportsbook made Imperial Aura their 7/4 favourite when they went up on Thursday morning and that was understandable, as he is the up-and-comer after his Cheltenham handicap win in March and a very taking Carlisle win on deep ground on his return.
But this race has a very trappy look to it - not least from a pace perspective - and of course Gold Cup sixth Real Steel, and Itchy Feet and Black Corton, are very strong rivals. I think the latter is probably a fair price at 5/1+, but it is a race easily ignored for betting purposes.
As is the three-runner Coral Hurdle at 14:40.
It is easy to say Laurina should be winning this in receipt of 13lb - though I hate the word "should" in tipping articles, unless it comes attached to a massive odds-on poke - but there will be better 11/8 chances than her every day of the week, with possible leader Song For Someone and last year's narrow runner-up Call Me Lord fully capable of putting it up to her if she is below par on her debut for Paul Nicholls.
And that isn't too hard to envisage that given her unconvincing profile in past 12 months or so.
Improving Lad set to be suited by fast-run 2m
The 2m handicap chase at 15:17 - I thought ITV were fighting shy of these non-standard off-times? - promises to be a real burn-baby-burn-up, with First Flow, Abbey Magic and Gino Trail just three of the eight that like to force it.
That could - I stress could - play into the hands of the rest and obviously Magic Saint has excellent credentials after his win at Cheltenham last week.
I think we all know this is pretty much his trip now and he was actually left in the Tingle Creek earlier in the week, but he is backing up quickly here, is 7lb higher and I am not certain he wants it this deep.
I initially thought this was a bit of a head-scratcher myself, and the prospect of a non-runner in the dead-eight is the stuff of nightmares for each-way backers.
I backed Marracudja in the Haldon Gold Cup last time and you can half-forgive him that run as he got badly hampered by a faller (though I would have liked to see more from him afterwards) and he looks a fair 20/1+ chance, for all you would have also rather seen Bridget Andrews choose him over Amoola Gold.
Then again, you wouldn't be getting that price, so I may have a small tickle on him.
If all eight are still standing their ground near the off, then I will definitely side with Drumconnor Lad each-way (currently 8/1 with the Betfair Sportsbook) to chunkier stakes.
Or I may look to get with him at 9.08/1 or bigger on the exchange's each-way market earlier, when that goes up, as original place terms stand there with a Rule 4 applied.
But I have to tip here and now, so I am going to hope there are no withdrawals and stick him up at 8/1 each-way.
The more I looked, the more I liked.
I found this horse profitable to side with last season, as I was with him when he won at Ayr and he agonisingly just failed to follow up for this column over 2m4f at Kempton, a race in which he traded at 1.558/15 in running. Nevertheless, he was well clear of the third and it was a great effort, all told.
After a pipe-opener over 2m4f over hurdles (without his usual headgear) on his comeback and returning to fences over 2m (with them back on, as they are here) last time, you had to love the way he travelled into the race at Ayr in heavy ground and put the race to bed after the last.
If anything, I think a strongly-run affair in a better class of contest like this will see him in an even more favourable light.
He went up another 5lb for the Ayr win, but the time was very good and the runner-up went into the race on an upward curve, and in-demand 7lb claimer Kevin Brogan (nine from 33 this season, with 11 places) keeps the ride here, so I am reckon he can overcome the rise.
Hopefully, his cruising speed will be a real asset in this higher grade - if he doesn't get run off his legs - and I believe he is a 2m handicap chaser going places.
Claim Your Completely Free £5 Betfair Chase Bet
Betfair is giving customers a free £5 bet to use on the Betfair Exchange on this Saturday's Betfair Chase. T&Cs apply. More details here.
Kaizer at 20/1 each-way, five places, with the Betfair Sportsbook in 13:50 at Haydock
Keeper Hill at 40.039/1 win and 7.06/1 place, or bigger, in 15:00 at Haydock
Drumconnor Lad at 8/1 each-way with the Betfair Sportsbook in 15:17 at Ascot
Don Poli at 7.06/1 or bigger in 15:35 at Haydock
ALREADY RECOMMENDED ANTE-POST
Perfect Candidate at 12/1 each-way in 15:35 at Haydock