The going will be wet wet wet at Newbury but will Tony Calvin be wishing he was lucky with his Saturday bets? Read on for three big-priced fancies from Saturday's card...
"Relax is now on the same mark as when beating Ardkilly Witness by three lengths at Sandown last season, and he could be ready to spring back to form in these ideal conditions."
Watching Newbury on RUK earlier today left you in little doubt how testing the ground was, and if the forecast rain arrives in the next 24 hours or so then it could be slow-motion Saturday at the track tomorrow.
I will be treading carefully at Newbury as heavy ground really can make this more of a guessing game than usual.
I was initially tempted by Provo in the opening race at 13:45 as I thought he ran very well after a long absence here last time and he looks on a fair mark. My old mate Bothy also very nearly reeled me in, too, and to be honest I wouldn't put you off having a saver on him.
But I am going to take my life in my hands and side with 7lb claimer Ryan Winks and Ruler Of All at odds of 34.033/1 or bigger.
It will come as no surprise to anybody who knows the jockey that I am putting in an in-running lay at around the even money mark. Simply put, you have to, with Winksy.
For two reasons. One, the jockey is not the most forceful in a finish - I'm being charitable there given it is Greatwood day - and second there is a possibility that 2m5f could stretch the horse's stamina.
But he is such a well-handicapped horse that I can't let him go unbacked. He is already 5lb lower than when a close second at Haydock just three starts ago, so I don't think there is any doubt that he is the best treated horse in here. He traded at 1.251/4 in running there, and at 1.422/5 when second at Ffos Las last season when he arguably should have won too, so the in-running hedge is essential here.
I thought that he ran OK on his comeback at Ludlow and it could be that Ryan can just sit tight in these conditions, and let the horse take the strain.
I hope I don't bump into Winks at Newbury now...
I am also going to chuck a few quid at Venetia Williams' Relax in the veterans' handicap chase at 14:15 at 15.014/1.
This is another horse who is falling down the weights, and I didn't think that he ran too badly behind Soll last time. He is now on the same mark as when beating Ardkilly Witness by three lengths at Sandown last season, and he could be ready to spring back to form in these ideal conditions.
Nothing catches my eye in the 14:50 but I think Venetia could double up in the 15:25 in the shape of Benny's Mist at odds of 9.08/1.
I backed him at Sandown last time and I was pretty confident for most of the way as he forced the pace, and seemed to have most of the field in trouble. But he emptied out and finished a well-beaten fourth in the end.
The handicapper has dropped him 1lb for that and I reckon similar tactics over this much shorter trip in soft ground could prove just the trick.
It is much better ground at Doncaster and I was originally very tempted by Night In Milan in the Grimthorpe at 15:45. But he has been well found in the market, perhaps predictably so, and I am happy to side with three small-stakes plays at Newbury.
Good luck all. If you are at Newbury, come and see me and say hello. Or something worse, if the above selections have lost.
Back Ruler Of All at odds of 34.033/1 or bigger in the 13:45 at Newbury
Back Relax at odds of 15.014/1 in the 14:15 at Newbury
Back Benny's Mist at odds of 9.08/1 in the 15:25 at Newbury