Saturday Racing Tips: Big-price bets at Ayr and Newbury

TC is backing four runners at Ayr (above) on Saturday afternoon
TC is backing four runners at Ayr (above) on Saturday afternoon

Tony Calvin selects his best bets for the televised racing action north and south of the border on Saturday afternoon...

"Bertimont is an old pal of mine and he is too big at 24.023/1 in the 14:45 at Ayr. He has been dropped 3lb after his midfield effort in the County Hurdle, and that generosity is too good to pass up."

It seems a bit odd to be leading on National Hunt racing in a week of Classic trials, but I think the best bets on Saturday are in that sphere, so that is where we head first.

I don't have a betting opinion in the five-runner 2m4f 110yd novices' chase or the 2m handicap chase, but I do in the Scottish National at 15:55 where my two against the field are Sugar Baron at 21.020/1 and Arpege D'Alene at 14.013/1.

If you hear a loud cry when Henri Parry Morgan hacks up though, say a prayer for me. I could be considering my options.

Sugar Baron is a fascinating contender. He is having just his fifth start over fences and I think there is plenty of mileage in his handicap mark of 134.

He beat Present Man on fast ground at Wincanton last May and shaped really well when sixth in the Kim Muir last time, where he stuck on really well after the last to be beaten just seven lengths.

The handicapper has eased him 1lb for that and I think the step up to 4m promises to really suit this unexposed chaser. He has plenty of stamina in his pedigree, the ground should suit and the first-time cheekpieces are on to make him concentrate and keep him interested.

I backed Arpege D'Alene in the four-miler at Cheltenham and he ran an infuriating race if truth be told, making mistakes at crucial times, and he actually did remarkably well to finish fourth, beaten just over six lengths.

He can be tricky and moody but if Sean Bowen can get a tune out of him, in the jumping and travelling stakes, then this marathon test really should be right up his strasse.


I am also going in two-handed in the Scottish Champion Hurdle at 14:45.

I have backed Hawk High on his last two outings but it is now apparent that he doesn't stay 2m4f+; a costly lesson, but there you go.

But he has at least been dropped 5lb for those runs and he is now a very well handicapped horse, 3lb lower than for his last win, and a strongly-run 2m on decent ground are his conditions. Back him at 29.028/1 or bigger.

Bertimont is another old pal of mine and he is too big at 24.023/1. He has been dropped 3lb after his midfield effort in the County Hurdle, and that generosity is too good to pass up.

As is customary, he tanked through the race and at one point I thought he was going to be involved in the finish before his run petered out between the last two.

On this easier track, and delivered as late as possible, then he could well take this. He is 15lb lower than when seventh in this race two years ago and is 7lb better off for the length he was beaten by recent Plumpton winner Tommy Silver on his penultimate start.


I never really warmed to Midterm last season for all his excellent efforts - notably his Prix Niel second - were interrupted by a fractured pelvis incurred during his Dante fifth, and I think he is plenty short enough around the 9/4 mark in the 1m4f contest at 13:55. He does seem to go very well when fresh though, I will give him that.

The problem is there are no shortage of alternatives. Too many, in fact.

Crimean Tatar was being aimed at the St Leger before a small setback put paid to that, and he showed what potential he had when beating Chemical Charge, who re-opposes today, at Kempton in November, and I think Dai Harraild also has the potential to make his mark in this grade this term.

The forgotten horse could be Second Step, who has a Group 1 win on his CV and is having his first start for Roger Charlton, as it was felt that he would benefit from a more sedate life away from Newmarket and he was a possible at 12.011/1 and bigger. But I will leave the race alone, as you can easily throw in Muntahaa into the mix as well.


The Fred Darling at 14:30 looks between the front two in the market to me, and unfortunately they look in the right order betting-wise.

I think Queen Kindly is just about the pick on the formbook, and certainly on the clock, and I can tell you that her homework against good horses has been very good, but she wasn't the biggest last season and I am worried about her stamina on her first attempt at 7f, too.

No such worries for Boussac third Dabyah and that is why I think she is the correct favourite, especially with her stable in flying form, but I can easily let her pass at 6/4.

If you are looking for a bet outside of that pair then Rain Goddess is a likely lass on her second start for Aidan O'Brien at a double-figure price - she shaped pretty well in the Irish 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown earlier in the month - but it's not my kind of race.


I was lining up to tip Barney Roy in the Greenham at 15:05 but I was expecting a bit bigger than 4.57/2. I was very taken by his Haydock win last September and so were Godolphin it seems, as they came calling and got out their chequebook.

I doubt they underpaid but I think they have bought themselves an exciting prospect, as the Haydock win came in a good time and the runner-up franked the form in a timely manner when winning at Ripon on Thursday, while the third also won subsequently.

But 7/2 about him is skinny enough in this grade and, if anything, Salisbury winner Make Time almost demands an interest at 14/1+. His Salisbury win was very impressive on the clock, and winners have come out of the race.

In fact, let's back him at 15.014/1 or bigger. The stable's Contrapposto ran well when fourth at 50/1 in the Craven on Thursday, which I view as an encouraging sign anyway.


You have to fear Chelsea Lad in the Spring Cup at 15:40, as he was the ante-post punt in the Lincoln before he missed the cut and the stable have been making very positive noises about him. But 9/2 is short enough for a horse returning from nearly a year off the track after suffering chips in his knee.

Banksea has been gelded since disappointing when sent off favourite for the Cambridgeshire - apparently he misbehaved in the race that day - and he has prospects, as do the usual suspects in this kind of race.

I am going to take a small-stakes chance on Zhui Feng at 17.016/1 or bigger, even if his draw in 21 or 21 could obviously be a big negative as racing on the near rail at Newbury is often not ideal.

He ran a cracker when a close fourth to Convey at Lingfield in February and then put in another solid effort when eighth in the Lincoln, beaten only three lengths, when leading and racing towards the unfavoured stands' side.

The handicapper has dropped him 2lb for that - and he is currently rated 7lb higher on the all-weather - which I think is generous, and I hope he will give us a bold show from the front once again. Hopefully the draw doesn't do for him again. Home Cummins at 25/1+ is another to consider, too.

Recommended Bets

Back Bertimont at 24.023/1 in 14:45 at Ayr
Back Hawk High at 26.025/1 in 14:45 at Ayr

Back Make Time at 15.014/1 in 15:05 at Newbury
Back Zhui Feng at 17.016/1 in the 15:40 at Newbury
Back Sugar Baron at 21.020/1 in the 15:55 at Ayr
Back Arpege D'Alene at 14.013/1 in the 15:55 at Ayr

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