Saturday Racing Tips: Bateel can overcome strong opposition at Ascot

Tony is backing Bateel (above right) to triumph at Ascot on Saturday
Tony is backing Bateel (above right) to triumph at Ascot on Saturday

Tony Calvin recommends at bumper five bets at Ascot on Saturday, including a dream bet at what he calls a "very big price". Read on to find out which horses TC is backing...


Recommended Bets

- Back Mr Lupton at 85.084/1 or bigger in 14:00 at Ascot
- Back Bateel at 22.021/1 in the 14:35 at Ascot
- Back Lightning Spear at 18.017/1 in the 15:10 at Ascot
- Back My Dream Boat at 32.031/1 in the 15:45 at Ascot

Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday didn't immediately strike me as a punting card when I started looking at it after the five-day entries came out on Monday. How wrong I was.

The first horse who flew out at me was GM Hopkins at 16-1 in the Balmoral - read the reasoning for my Tuesday ante-post recommendation on him here - and we will revisit that race at the end of this piece.

But let's kick off with the horse who interests me most at the prices, and that is Bateel at 22.021/1 in the Fillies and Mares at 14:35.

The first thing to say is that I rate a lot of the opposition. Seventh Heaven laid fair claim to being the best 3yo filly at Ballydoyle when beating Found and Queen's Trust (I've got plenty of time for that strong-traveller too) in devastating fashion in the Yorkshire Oaks, and if it hadn't been for her failing to handle Epsom in the Oaks then we would maybe be talking about her in more reverential terms.

Zhukova has long been regarded as a Group 1 filly by her trainer and it is telling that Dermot Weld immediately namechecked this race for her after she routed Pretty Perfect at Naas in May. And all has gone to plan since, as she comes here via a prep defeat of US Army Ranger at Leopardstown.

Throw in the likes of Journey, agonisingly picked up late on by Simple Verse in this race last season and who went about her business in typically enthusiastic fashion when bolting up at Newmarket last time, and you have a very strong renewal of this race. And I haven't even mentioned the dual Oaks runner-up Architecture.

I do think we will see a career-best form Bateel here, though, which is just as well as she has 15lb to find with Seventh Heaven on official ratings. However, I don't think we have scratched the surface with this 4yo yet.

Talking about the surface, connections may not get the soft ground that they may have reasonably anticipated when targeting her at this earlier in the season, but it should be fine for her. It is good to soft in places and there are showers around.

Most of her best, and winning, form may have come on soft ground - and she clearly relished it when winning at Newmarket in June - but it was officially good when she ran an extraordinary race over 1m2f in the Group 1 Prix Jean Romanet last time.

I better be careful what I say here, especially as it seems as if she needs to be kidded and delivered late, but let's just say that she didn't have her ears scrubbed off any stage there, and it viewed more like a handicapper being teed up for another day than a Group 1 prize. Go and take a look at the video.

But the facts are that she fell out of the stalls, was positioned in last thereafter, and when William Buick finally pulled her wide and asked her to race in the final furlong at Deauville then she stayed on in a very pleasing manner to be beaten just 2 ½ lengths by subsequent Opera winner Speedy Boarding.

Back up to 1m4f and with ease in the ground - the more rain the merrier, especially as it will be against Seventh Heaven - then I expect her to make massive strides in a race that has been in the back of connections' minds all season. And this is only her eighth start.

Let's hope she can follow in the footsteps of Madame Chiang, who won this race in 2014 for the stable.


***


I sincerely, and financially, hope that David Simcock is celebrating a double after the next, as his Lightning Spear has been my long-term - well, medium-term, probably - fancy for the QEII at 15:10. Back him at 18.017/1.

Once again, I have a lot of time for the likes of Ribchester, Minding and Galileo Gold - and Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Awtaad, who bounced back to winning form in a first-time tongue tie at Leopardstown - but so does the market, particularly the first two.

Lightning Spear was available at 25-1 for this race after his impressive defeat of Zonderland in the Celebration Mile at Goodwood in August, but that must have been simply a case of bookmakers being asleep on the job.

His current odds of 16-1+ make plenty of appeal, as I think we can excuse his earlier three runs in this grade, not that any apologies were needed for what were creditable efforts all the same. He was surely ridden too far off the pace in the Sussex Stakes - and to a lesser degree when third in the Queen Anne over course and distance - and then he wasn't one of the only horses unsuited by dead and tacky ground in the Marois.

He is ground-versatile, and he still has very few miles on the clock for a 5yo, and I am hoping he is another selection of mine capable of posting his best effort yet.And he has only 5lb and 4lb respectively to find with a peak-form Galileo Gold and Ribchester on official figures; more of a molehill than a mountain, and the turn of foot that he showed when brushing aside a 112-rated horse at Goodwood leads me to believe that he can climb it.


***


Order Of St George is clearly going to take all the beating in the Long Distance Cup at 13:25, if in the same form as when winning the Gold Cup or finishing third in the Arc last time.

But I am in no rush to take 1.910/11 about a horse who looked to be feeling something in between those races when hanging right in the closing stages when turned over at 1-7 in the Irish St Leger, and this race comes plenty soon enough after Chantilly.

Each-way alternatives aren't hard to spot - chief among them is the 2014 winner Forgotten Rules, who got no run in this race last season and ran well for a long way in his comeback (traded 1.121/8 in the run), while Litigant is the most interesting of the horses priced around 16-1 - but I am happy to sit the opener out.

Knowing me, I may lay him if he hits the 1.84/5 mark, and have the field running for me at 5-4.


***


I am also not in a particular rush to back anything in the Sprint at 14:00, if truth be told. I think July Cup and Foret winner Limato would have hacked up here if he had been allowed to take his chance, but he is being saved for the Breeders' Cup.

This is now up for grabs for a whole host of these - the market tells you the most obvious beneficiaries - and I don't have a strong opinion.

Mecca's Angel sets the form standard on her Nunthorpe win but obviously has 6f and a below-par run in the Abbaye to overcome, and of the outsiders I think Mr Lupton could outrun his massive odds if returning to the form of his York defeat of subsequent Stewards' Cup winner Dancing Star in July.

In fact, the more I look at that York form - and he didn't run at all bad on bottomless ground behind Quiet Reflection at Haydock last time - then I am increasingly tempted. Back him to very small stakes at 85.084/1 or bigger; I'll be chucking a score at him, if you want to know.


***


I also have a betting view in the 15:45 and shock horror it isn't the favourite Almanzor at around the 13-8 mark. There is nothing not to like about him bar his price, and the manner and substance of his defeat of Found in the Irish Champion Stakes clearly makes him the one to beat here.

But this race has far more depth than his price suggests, and he undoubtedly raced on the faster strip of ground when coming wide and late to win at Leopardstown. Found is the obvious alternative after her Arc heroics, as is Fascinating Rock, the horse who beat her in this race last season and so convincingly in the Tattersalls Gold Cup in May, but I like one at a bigger price.

I was tempted by last year's Irish Derby winner Jack Hobbs on his return from a pelvic injury - racecourse gallops are normally laughable affairs, but was quite impressive at Kempton last month - but I think the forgotten horse of the race could be My Dream Boat at 32.031/1.

That is a very big price for a horse who beat Found fair and square in the Prince Of Wales over course and distance, despite hanging right, and I was encouraged by his fifth behind Almanzor at Leopardstown last time.

That was his first start since disappointing badly in the Eclipse - a break of over nine weeks - so his fifth there is all the more meritorious considering he was never really going with any ease or fluency after a sluggish start.

It may take a leap of faith to back him to reverse the form, but I expect him to be a lot sharper here - as does his trainer - and the fact is that he has a Group 1 track and trip defeat over the second favourite on his dance card as recently as June.


***


The Balmoral at 16:25 is a devilishly difficult handicap - a lot of fancied horses didn't even get into the race with the top 20 all standing their ground at the overnight stage - as you'd expect of a £250k pot, but I do think GM Hopkins is very solid, as I mentioned earlier this week.

He has shortened in the market into 12.011/1, and I can see why Yuften has been well backed all week, too.

He was rated 116 in 2014 when trained by William Haggas and is down to 101 now, and he comes here after an excellent fourth on his first start for Roger Charlton at Newmarket last time. The combination of a step up to 1m and a more truly-run race must see him figure here off what is a very appealing mark.

Odds of around 8-1+ for him are fair, but I will stick with the ante-post play on GM Hopkins.

Best of luck on what is a great day's racing at Ascot.


Recommended Bets

Back Mr Lupton at 85.084/1 or bigger in 14:00 at Ascot
Back Bateel at 22.021/1 in the 14:35 at Ascot
Back Lightning Spear at 18.017/1 in the 15:10 at Ascot
Back My Dream Boat at 32.031/1 in the 15:45 at Ascot

Already Advised

Back Gm Hopkins at 17.016/1 or 16-1 each way in 16:25 at Ascot


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