Saturday Racing Tips: Going for a Burton at Newbury

Will Burton Port return to 2012 form over fences?

The Festival is not far off and the fields are small but Tony Calvin has dug out a pair of bets from Saturday's live offerings on Channel 4...

"Godsmejudge remains fairly handicapped, and he comes here a fresher horse than most."

Back Godsmejudge @ 10.09/1 or bigger in the 15:30 at Doncaster

Telling it as it is has always been a weakness of mine - if life was a game of snakes and ladders, the silent smilers would be odds-on to climb the rungs over the frank forthright - so I won't lie to you.

My initial thoughts on scanning tomorrow's Channel 4 races at Doncaster and Newbury was that I hoped they were also showing some action from Lingfield - or maybe the Super 15 rugby match between the Bulls and Lions - as potential bets didn't scream out to me.

The shape of the races at Newbury, for example, would not appeal to many punters. Three of the races are only paying two places, while the other is an eight-runner affair - and regular punters know only too well how non-runners have been playing havoc with each-way terms this season.

In fact, as I write this, it looks like the non-runner curse has already struck in that eight-runner race, as Nadiya De La Vega is a doubtful runner!

Luckily for me, the horse that I fancy most on the card is an all-or-nothing creature anyway - step forward Burton Port in the 14:40. Back him at odds of 5.04/1 or greater to small stakes. Not our usual type of price, but we aren't dealing with big fields here.

Burton Port has clearly had plenty of issues since proving himself not far off the best staying chasers in 2012 when he was fourth in the Gold Cup and rated 166, but many thought a return to form was imminent at Doncaster over 3m last time after a wind operation.

However, with his jumping letting him down, he was something of a disappointment that day. But I was very surprised to go back and take a look at the video and see that he plugged on to be beaten only 12½ lengths there.

Today's softer ground may not be ideal - though his record says he handles testing ground well - but I think the step up in trip is in his favour, and I just hope that the first-time cheekpieces will bring about some improvement in the jumping department.

If they do, he is handicapped to win this veterans' chase, as he has been dropped 4lb from Doncaster, and is now on a mark of just 141. And perhaps then connections will be tempted to send him to Aintree.

That will be my only bet on the Newbury card, but if you want a steer on the other races, then I was half-tempted by Shangani in the 2m4f handicap chase, and Who Owns Me and Tiqris would also be my selections.

The fields are not that much juicier at Doncaster but at least there are a couple of fair handicaps to get stuck into, and I was initially tempted to side with Harry The Viking in the 15:30.

The course and distance winner appears to have a lot going for him, not least good ground, a fair handicap mark and a decent third in first-time blinkers last time.

But I have to say that he has been a frustrating, and costly, horse to follow ever since his second to Teaforthree in the 2012 four-miler at Cheltenham and I am going to take a chance on Godsmejudge at odds of 10.09/1 or better.

Alan King's decision to shut up shop when his horses were laid-low in December has been bearing fruit in recent weeks - his horses are not shooting the lights out but they are running well in the main - and the patience can be rewarded with his four-length Scottish National winner Godsmejudge here.

He remains 9lb higher than that Ayr win, but the manner of that success justified that rise. He remains fairly handicapped, and he comes here a fresher horse than most.

He was one of a number of the stable's horses that disappointed in December but he ran a good fifth off this mark on his comeback at Cheltenham in November, and I think he can make a bold bid on good ground which he excels on. 

He has a very consistent profile on the whole, unlike many of his rivals.

Again though, please do keep stakes small. If you hadn't heard, there is a big Festival coming up, which will hopefully offer far richer punting pickings.

Recommended Bets 
Back Burton Port @ 5.04/1 or bigger in the 14:40 at Newbury 
Back Godsmejudge @ 10.09/1 or bigger in the 15:30 at Doncaster

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