Saturday Racing Tips: Back Cloudy Too to make light weather of Haydock

Two selections from Ascot for Tony Calvin on Saturday
Two selections from Ascot for Tony Calvin on Saturday

There is some excellent racing on our screens on Saturday at Ascot and Haydock and our man Tony Calvin is back to talk through the cards and pick out his best bets...

There looked to be a potential silver lining to Cloudy Too's effort in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle last time - if you looked hard enough, admittedly - and he is worth one more chance off his tumbling handicap mark in the 14:40 at Haydock.

Back him at 10.09/1 or bigger.

It has to be said that his efforts have generally been very disappointing since his 10-length win in the Rowland Meyrick on Boxing Day two years ago, and his subsequent second to Captain Chris in the Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase.

And, at first glance, all his three efforts this season have been very disappointing.

But I thought that there was far more promise in his run at Newcastle last time - not hard after pretty dire runs at Ayr and Bangor, I grant you - even if he did stop just a little too quickly for my liking after looking mildly dangerous on the outside coming to three out.

That 20-length eighth there was at least a step forward though, and he did travel much better than at Bangor previously, and the handicapper has done his bit by dropping him another 4lb.

He is now 10lb lower than when winning at Wetherby, and that makes him a formidably well-handicapped horse if connections can coax him back to anywhere near that level of form.

And the final piece in the jigsaw could well be the track and ground. He has run some of his better races at Haydock, and he is three from three on officially heavy ground, which is what it will be on Saturday afternoon. I'm happy to take my chances at a double-figure price.

In the handicap hurdle at 14:05 nothing too much catches my eye, though De Boitron would be my selection if forced.

***


There is some high-class fare at Ascot and I am particularly looking forward to seeing Thistlecrack enhance his World Hurdle claims in the Long Walk at 14:25.

But it's a very competitive renewal and he isn't much of a price at around the 5/2 mark, so I'm happy to let him win without my money.

Gullinbursti is worth chancing in the 15:00 after a 19-month break. Back him at odds of 15.014/1 or bigger.

Pendra, up 7lb for his Ascot win, is the right favourite here as he has always promised to be a 150+ rated performer when things fall right.

But in Gullinbursti he is hopefully meeting a better handicapped horse, and one primed to do the business after a long absence. I don't know why he has been off the track, but he returns on a very attractive mark of 137 judged on the majority of his chase starts.

Indeed, he looks very well treated on his runaway reappearance Market Rasen win on soft ground just over two years ago, and crucially he is a horse who does tend to go well when fresh. And, as he showed at Aintree two starts ago, he is more than capable of handling himself in these high-end handicaps.


***


I don't have a strong opinion in the 13:50 but I am keen to add another string to my bow in the Ladbroke at 15:35, having recommended Some Plan in my ante-post column on Monday.

I couldn't put you off either of the market leaders Winner Massagot or Jolly's Cracked It but I personally can't see much juice in their price in a 21-runner handicap, and the one that interests me is The Dan Skelton "second string" Hurricane Hollow at 22.021/1 or bigger.

I say second string slightly tongue-in-cheek because I doubt that the stable can split him and Zarib, and that 5lb claimer Bridget Andrews' knowledge of the selection - she was on board when he won at Cheltenham in April - explains her taking the ride.

And she looks to have a winning chance, too, as Hurricane Hollow screamed out for a return to the minimum trip after finishing third over an extended 2m3f at Chepstow on his reappearance, where he travelled strongly - he traded at 1.68/13 in-running - only to fade after the last to finish third.

A strongly-run 2m looks right up his street, and a 3lb rise for that Chepstow third looks fair enough, given the way the race has worked out.

The winner finished second in a Grade 2 next time, the runner-up won by eight lengths at Haydock, the fifth won at Cheltenham, the sixth bolted up on his chasing debut at Exeter, and the eighth won off a mark of 155 over fences next time up.

You get the picture. In fact, Skelton may be a relieved man that the horse didn't go up more while standing in his box.

The first-time cheek pieces is another interesting angle for him, and I give him a good shout in a ridiculously competitive race, won by the stable in 2013, even if ideally he would want better ground. That could explain why Harry Skelton takes the ride on Zarib, actually.

Good luck.


Recommended Bets
Back Cloudy Too at 10.09/1 in the 14:40 at Haydock
Back Gullinbursti at 15.014/1 in the 15:00 at Ascot
Back Hurricane Hollow at 22.021/1 in the 15:35 at Ascot

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