Saturday Racing Tips: Back Vibrato Valtat to shock the market leaders at Ascot

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

There is top-class action on Channel 4 at both Ascot and Haydock on Saturday and our man Tony Calvin has combed the cards for his best bets...

"He has "only" 8lb and 7lb to find with Sire De Grugy and Un De Sceaux respectively on official figures - if they get round, that is - and I suspect that the stamina test of a stiff track and deep ground will really suit the selection, and that the race may be run to play to his strengths, too."

Back Vibrato Valtat at 13.012/1 or bigger in the 15:00 at Ascot

Price dictates that Vibrato Valtat is a bet

One of my pet hates - and you won't be surprised to hear that I have plenty, being the tolerant sole I am - is lazy and unconvincing copy, so I am prepared to receive a bit of my own medicine by putting up Vibrato Valtat at 13.012/1 or bigger in the Clarence House Stakes at Ascot, at 15:00.

I regularly marvel at some of the pieces that get into print these days - often wondering what the response would be if some unknown had sent exactly the same copy to the editor (the delete button being hit is my guess) - as a few are bereft of any coherence.

So a confession before I kick on; the following argument won't convince everybody.

Indeed, there isn't a single piece of form which suggests why Vibrato Valtat should beat a peak-form Un De Sceaux or Sire De Grugy. And someone whose judgement I respect told me yesterday that he wouldn't even back Paul Nicholls' chaser to beat Simply Ned or Traffic Fluide in this race, let alone the front two in the market.

But each to their own, and so many punters lose because they back what they think will win the race, and do so regardless of price.

A lot of time I back horses that I don't particularly fancy because the odds dictate - no, my late father, God rest his soul, never got his head around that, either - which leads me to Vibrato Valtat.

And when I said earlier that the horse hasn't any form that entitles him to win this race, I was exaggerating.

He has "only" 8lb and 7lb to find with Sire De Grugy and Un De Sceaux respectively on official figures - if they get round, that is - and I suspect that the stamina test of a stiff track and deep ground will really suit the selection, and that the race may be run to play to his strengths, too.

And he is no mug, himself.

He won the Haldon Gold Cup by four lengths off a mark of 157 on his reappearance, and you have to remember that he went off at 7/1 in the Arkle last year and 11/4 favourite for the Betfair Tingle Creek just two starts ago.

Sure, he was beaten 13 lengths by Un De Sceaux in the Arkle, and over seven lengths by Sire De Grugy in the Tingle Creek. And he was getting 4lb when firmly put in his place by Sprinter Sacre and Gary Moore's chaser in the Desert Orchid last time.

But none of those races saw him to best effect, and I can envisage the way that this race is likely to pan out could play into Vibrato Valtat's hands if Noel Fehily opts for a "balls-of-steel" ride.

Fehily, one of my favourite jockeys, is two from two on the horse, and I don't want to see him delivering the horse until halfway up the run-in after Un De Sceaux has hopefully been softened up by Sire De Grugy from the bottom bend, not that I think the Willie Mullins horse is short on stamina. Far from it.

But these are the best horses the favourite has faced in his career - he has beaten Smashing, Clarcam, God's Own and Just Cameron in his four completed chase starts (yes, exactly) - and of course he has those jumping issues. And don't forget that Sire De Grugy had an unseat and fall on his dance card last season, and also threw in a stinker behind Vibrato Valtat at Exeter.

It could be that he never gets within shouting distance of the favourite, but at 12/1-plus I am paying to find out.

Vroum Vroum Mag to prove Festival claims

Mullins is likely to have a winner already on the board though in the shape of Vroum Vroum Mag in the Mares' Hurdle at 13:50, though she is a heavy odds-on poke.

The only interesting betting aspect of the race will be on the ante-post front if she wins by a street.

Connections would then have the clear second favourite on their hands for the Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham behind Annie Power. And they could even have the market leader if they are confident enough in her claims to let Annie Power run in the World Hurdle, where her talents dictate that she should be running.

And the World Hurdle is one race where Mullins is light on talent, so that scenario is a possibility, if not a probability.

Keep an eye on Value At Risk

The 18-runner handicap hurdle at 14:25 is fearsomely competitive, and I am particularly interested in Value At Risk back over hurdles off a mark of 142. And I imagine Dan Skelton will be too, as he left the horse in the World Hurdle on Thursday.

But I will stop short of putting him up as a bet as I think he should be a bit bigger in this depth of race, and I am wary that it has only been 17 days since his latest chase fall at Huntingdon.

He clearly has taken to chasing like a duck to a drought, so the switch to hurdles is a sensible move, particularly as he is well-treated on a couple of his novice performances last season, notable his second at Cheltenham. And testing ground suits him well.

He strikes me as the likeliest winner, but don't underestimate how competitive this race is. A reluctant swerve - unless he drifts in the market tomorrow, so keep an eye on the market.

Tara Road well handicapped

I liked Rebecca Curtis' Doing Fine at the five-stage in the 2m5f handicap chase at 15:35, but she relies on Tara Road here. And he has a lot going for him, too, so back him at 17.016/1.

There are negatives. He is 1lb out of the handicap, was pulled up on his last two starts and hasn't raced since November.

But there was more promise in those efforts than the form figures indicate and the handicapper has done him a massive favour by dropping 5lb since the start of the season (and he ran well from 4lb out of the handicap first time up this season, too).

That makes him a very well-handicapped horse on his Ffos Las win last season - and his subsequent Newbury fourth - and this trip in deep ground are ideal for him, and he has won here over hurdles.

Add Reve De Sivola to Peter Marsh portfolio

I am more than happy with my 10/1 each-way ante-post play on Cloudy Too (four places, quarter the odds) in the Peter Marsh at 15:15 at Haydock - read my argument here - but the more I look at the race the more I have to have a saver on Reve De Sivola at 5.59/2.

Not our usual price and I know that he was an 8/1 chance on Tuesday, but there are eight fewer horses in the race now and this has been obviously been confirmed as his target, and I don't fancy many in the field, to be honest.

He hasn't raced over fences for four years but the handicapper has virtually begged connections to run by giving him a chase mark of just 139. He probably ran to a 20lb higher mark when second to Thistlecrack in the Long Walk Hurdle last time, and was officially rated 167 in his hurdling pomp in 2013.

He will think he is running loose off 10st 4lb in this lesser grade of race, and another big positive in his favour is that Haydock's fences are not the stiffest these days, so he may get away with the odd "chancy" one.

Three miles in bottomless ground is right up his strasse and he must go close, even if he just fences adequately.

Recommended Bets

Back Vibrato Valtat at 13.012/1 or bigger in the 15:00 at Ascot
Back Reve De Sivola at 5.59/2 in the 15:15 at Haydock
Back Tara Road at 17.016/1 in the 15:35 at Ascot

Already Recommended

Back Cloudy Too 10-1 e/w in the antepost market for 15:15 at Haydock

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