ITV Races - Tony Calvin

Saturday Racing Tips: Midlands National hopeful Prime Venture 'the bet of the day'

Kempton Hurdle
Tony has four selection on Saturday including two at Kempton

"Prime Venture is probably the bet of the day for me."

Prime Venture at 13.012/1 or bigger win, and 3.02/1 four places, in 15:35 at Uttoxeter

He's done all four days of Cheltenham but the indefatigable Tony Calvin returns to the tipping hotseat for a look at Saturday's racing in the UK...

Happy Heskin?

There are three cracking Kempton handicaps on ITV, and I and hoping Adrian Heskin, who I do some work with, is going to have a very good day.

And hopefully that will start with Shang Tang in the 18-runner 2m5f handicap hurdle at 14:05. Back him at 21.020/1 or bigger.

He probably won't thank for me saying this but the horse probably should have won over 2m3f at Taunton last time, but, as it was, he went down by a diminishing head.

The form of that race isn't overly-strong, but he clearly shaped well there and he wasn't disgraced when taking on some very smart novices when sixth to Chantry House at Cheltenham previously.

The step up to 2m5f should suit this lightly-raced sort on run-style and pedigree, and he looks a big potential improver to me.

He will have to be though, as he is not obviously well handicapped off 128, and McFabulous could take a fair bit of beating.

Like the look of the Lad

Heskin also has a decent chance on The Butcher Said in the 2m5f handicap hurdle at 14:40, but I went round in circles looking at this 20-runner race before parking it under "too difficult."

I reckon the aforementioned jockey has a big chance of doubling up in the 2m4f+ handicap chase at 15:15, in the shape of Drumconnor Lad and he rates a bet at 11.010/1 or bigger.


On first inspection, that is probably short enough in a race of this competitive nature, but he does hold outstanding claims.

He won what turned out to be a very strong handicap at Leopardstown on Boxing Day and he went to Ayr over 2m last week off a 9lb higher mark.

He won very snugly there and doesn't carry a penalty here, so he is effectively 5lb well-in, and the step up in trip on better ground could suit him even better here.

He is the most likely winner to these set of eyes.

Prime is my punt

Uttoxeter's Midlands Grand National at 15:35 is not going to be one for the faint-hearted, with 4m2f to cover in what will be very deep ground.

It is par for the course for this race though, and I am hoping last year's fourth, Prime Venture, can at least replicate that effort on Saturday.

Or, preferably, go three places better.

Back him at 13.012/1 in win and 3.02/1, or bigger, in the four-places market.

I would have been very interested in Joe Farrell if the ground had been better, but it isn't, and I think Prime Venture is the most attractively-priced of the field at his double-figure price.

He is back on the same mark as when a good fourth in the Welsh National in December, beaten just 4½ lengths there, and he saw this extreme trip out well enough when occupying a similar position in this race last year.

The in-running comment of "weakened after 3 out" is highly misleading as he actually made progress from that stage, and he stuck to his guns pretty well up the straight.

He is 4lb lower here and hopefully the first-time blinkers will suit him, too. He wore initial cheek pieces when running that good race at Chepstow earlier in the season, so I like the angle of freshening him up in new accoutrements.

And I liked it even more when discovering that Evan Williams' form figures with first-time blinkers this year is 121.

Ballybreen won at 16/1 at Hereford in January and Miss Zip obliged at 11/1 at Sedgefield in February. And On The Road was beaten only a head at Chepstow in January at 11/2.

Prime Venture is probably the bet of the day for me.


Go West

Earlier on the card, I couldn't decide between three in the eight-runner opener at 13:50 - Tambura, Solstice Star and Ostuni if you are interested - so that is hardly bet material.

Midnight Tune has an obvious chance in the 14:25 and predictably hasn't been missed in the market.

The 17-runner 2m4f handicap hurdle at 15:00 is a bit of a head-scratcher but I am going to give West To The Bridge a few of my quids at 21.020/1 or bigger.

He didn't get home over an extended 2m7f at Sandown last time, so that run is easily forgiven, and the handicapper generously dropped him 2lb for it.

This shorter trip on deep ground will suit him a lot better, and he obviously impressed when making all at Wetherby previously. He is tactically-versatile though if he can't get to the front.

Good luck all.

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