Saturday Racing Tips: Outback expected to be a strong Traveller at Ascot

Robert Cowell trains Tony's strong fancy Outback Traveller
Robert Cowell trains Tony's strong fancy Outback Traveller

We have televised racing from three meetings on Saturday afternoon and here to guide you through the action, and provide his big-price tips, is Tony Calvin...

"That was his first start for Cowell, and his first since being gelded, and it suggested that all the old ability is still there. And this fast ground is exactly what he wants. Given luck in running, I'll be disappointed if he is out of the frame."

Back Outback Traveller at 11.010/1 in the 16:15 at Ascot

Playing near the top end of the market in a 29-runner handicap is rarely my style but I would make Outback Traveller the clear favourite in my book, so I think he rates a fair bet at 11.010/1 in the Victoria Cup at 16:15.

I know you can make a case for any horse in the field but Outback Traveller really does look to have outstanding claims.

Robert Cowell showed with Marmalady at Goodwood on Saturday how he can sweeten up new inmates to his yard and in the selection, a 65,000 guineas purchase out of Jeremy Noseda's stable at the sales last October, he has a well-handicapped animal. Indeed, with a first prize of £65,362.50 here, the horse can pretty much repay the purchase price in one fell swoop.

He didn't run well in this race last year but he is a course-and-distance winner who also ran well over track and trip when fourth in a valuable handicap in September.

He was rated 107 this time last year but he has slipped down to a mark of 100, with the handicapper dropping him 2lb for a luckless run - and he wasn't the only one in the race, admittedly - at Haydock last time, where Jamie Spencer had to sit and suffer.

That was his first start for Cowell, and his first since being gelded, and it suggested that all the old ability is still there. And this fast ground is exactly what he wants. Given luck in running, I'll be disappointed if he is out of the frame.

I will have a saver on Fort Bastion at 24.023/1. He is tricky, but he ran well on his return, has some good efforts to his name here, and a strongly-run 7f on decent ground is ideal.

Connections have re-applied the visor - the last time he wore it was when he was a good sixth here in the soft last July off a 3lb higher mark - and Josh Doyle is fair enough value for his 5lb claim.

Signs point to an easy Victory for Henderson charge

Having got some dogs' abuse on Twitter for tipping Sign Of A Victory for the Champion Hurdle at 100-1 - after the race, at least - my ears pricked up when I saw him entered up for the 1m4f handicap at 14:30 instead of the far more valuable Swinton Hurdle at Haydock, on Thursday morning.

But, looking at his handicap mark of 88, you can see why Nicky Henderson, fresh from sending out No Heretic to win the Chester Cup, has gone down the Flat route.

This horse travels like a dream over hurdles, where he is rated 150, and loves fast ground. So it is not hard to see him tanking through the race here off a mark some 62lb lower than over hurdles.

Indeed, purely on his sole Flat start to date he is fairly handicapped. He beat the now 82-rated US Navy Seal in a 1m4f Wolverhampton maiden in December, and the third has won since, too. He must be a massive player in this.

But the problem, as ever, is the price. I wasn't expecting miracles, but I wanted a bit more than 5-2 for my money in a quality 0-95 handicap that features some in-form, well-handicapped, and unexposed rivals. I can see him winning easily though, I must admit.

Light can just Shade Pandora in the 1m Handicap

Scotland would be my idea of the winner of the 1m4f listed race at 15:05 as he goes well here and 1m4f on fast ground are ideal for him and his stable have already banged in four winners this month. But his price is fair, and no more, so I will let him run unbacked at the odds.

Pandora and Light And Shade are my two against the field in the 15:40 and the former is very interesting, stepped down to 1m on her first start for new connections. And she looks fairly treated off a mark of 98 on her Musidora third.

I will probably have a saver on her, but my main fancy is Light And Shade at 8.07/1, who basically has everything in place for a big run.

Firstly, her stable has started the season well - though a couple of their horses ran shockers at Chester this week - and this filly is a course-and-distance winner who reappeared to finish a good third in a listed race at Kempton last month.

Fast ground isn't a problem for her, and she is taken to get the better of Pandora, though Bint Dandy is also respected, running off a 5lb lower mark on turf than the all-weather.

Strong traveller just the Plan for Swinton

The Swinton Hurdle at Haydock at 14:15 is fiercely competitive but I think conditions are perfect for Some Plan to finally deliver and he rates an interest at 16.015/1.

This horse powers through his races and often fails to deliver but 2m on a flat, sharp track on drying ground are his perfect conditions - and this is the first time he has had them since his win last year - and he looks set to go very close.

In fact, if you back him, then he is an ideal candidate to put in an in-running lay at a short price to cover your stake.

But obviously I'd rather that he didn't do a "Vibrato Valtat", who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory for the stable when finding little after hacking through this race three years ago.

But Some Plan ran with real credit last time in the Scottish Champion Hurdle, and he is now 5lb better off for 3 ¼ lengths with the winner Ch' Tibello on that run. And while his regular pilot Harry Cobden is banned, courtesy of his ride on Just A Par in the bet365 Gold Cup, Jack Sherwood is good value for his 5lb claim, too.

I expect Markaz to go close in the 7f listed race at 14:45 but I couldn't get too excited about the price in such an open race. It is clear that his trainer Owen Burrows looks a very able first-season handler, though.

Watching brief advised in Oaks and Derby trials

The shape of the Classic trials at Lingfield do not make for enticing betting heats either, and I am not simply referring to the fact that they are small fields.

The Oaks trial at 15:25 features six unexposed winners all stepping up in trip, so it's difficult to have a strong opinion. My idea of the likeliest winner would be impressive Windsor winner Mountain Bell, but this will be the quickest ground she has encountered, she is the favourite and who knows what she is up against?

For example, Hugo Palmer reportedly thinks a lot of Architecture but she is only rated 82, which gives you an idea of how much these fillies are expected to improve here.

It's a pretty similar story in the five-runner Derby trial at 16:00 where Humphrey Bogart looks the most solid contender after a good second at Epsom on his reappearance. But you can't rule any of the opposition out - even the 84-rated Across The Stars - and I think Carntop is going to take a big step forward over this trip.

Winning Story is the early favourite in what looks sure to be a changeable market, and that surprises me, for all that he was impressive on his debut at Newmarket.

Recommended Bets

Back Some Plan at 16.015/1 in the 14:15 at Haydock
Back Light And Shade at 8.07/1 in the 15:40 at Ascot
Back Outback Traveller at 11.010/1 in the 16:15 at Ascot
Back Fort Bastion at 24.023/1 in the 16:15 at Ascot

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