Saturday Racing Tips: Five runners that could shine on a wet afternoon

Racegoers shelter from the rain
Rain is expected on Saturday

This is probably the most low-key Saturday of the year, but there can be diamonds in the rough, and that could be the case on an interesting Musselburgh card, says Tony Calvin...

"I toyed with Clever Cookie at a price in the Queen's Cup at 15:35 but I kept on coming back to Time To Study."

A lot could depend on how the ground is riding come Saturday afternoon, as it is currently good to soft (soft in places) at Musselburgh with showers forecast for the next 24 hours, and that makes it tricky to side with certain horses.

An obvious example of this would be Twin Appeal in the opener at 13:50, as last year's winner (he missed the Doncaster slog last weekend with a vet's certificate) would be very interesting here if the ground didn't get any worse.

He does just about handle soft ground, but he is better on a decent surface and comes here very attractively weighted - he is 4lb lower than when winning last year - and has had a couple of decent spins on the all-weather.

Two bets in the 13:50 at Musselburgh

Low numbers dominated in this race last year, so it would be no surprise if the likes of Ower Fly, Lualiwa or Masham Star went forward from their draws, but the two that I am focusing on here are Imperial State and Sharp Defence, both having their first starts for new stables.

Trying to second guess when Mick Easterby is going to pull the trigger is not an easy task, but he looks to have picked up a bargain in Imperial State for just 15,000 guineas at the sales last October and he could get a fair chunk of that purchase price back with a win here.

He was a consistent horse for George Scott last season, last seen when a good fourth in an amateur riders race on soft ground at Ascot last July, and Easterby has given the horse a wind op since we last saw him.

He has also left off the visor that the horse improved while wearing on his final two starts for Scott (the horse has also run well in cheek-pieces), which is a slight worry, but he is one of my small-stakes bets in the race. Hopefully, he will be primed for this 20k race and he is worth a nibble at 9.08/1 or bigger.

The other is Sharp Defence, who is back from an unsuccessful time of it in Dubai over the winter. He returns having got no sympathy from the UK handicapper. But he still has a lot to recommend him.

He was only just touched off by the progressive What's The Story here in July when forcing tactics were adopted - so maybe he will try and go forward from stall four, too - and he has good winning form in the soft if more rain does materialise. He is definitely on the big side at 17.016/1 or bigger, so he rates as my second bet in the race.

The lightning-quick Caspian Prince looks sure to lead the field a merry dance in the 5f conditions race at 14:25, but I am a little surprised that his new trainer - god knows how many times this horse has been switched in the last three years now (I can't be bothered to count) - is running him here under a massive 8lb penalty when he had other options this week.

Alpha Delphini has obvious chances at these weights (he gets 8lb and is rated just 2lb shy of the aforementioned speedster) , but I prefer the claims of Kyllang Rock at the prices. He won first time out last season, handles cut, and was not far off Caspian Prince at his best last season. He could be the each-way play at 6/1+.

But I can leave the race alone from a betting perspective, as you can also make a case for last year's winner Desert Law and Blue De Vega. The latter could bounce back from his poor Doncaster effort Saturday in the first-time cheek-pieces here, but I suspect he will get run off his feet over 5f.

A convincing case for Fake News in the 15:00 at Musselburgh

A few of the more interesting candidates came out of the 15:00 at the overnight stage, so it is no surprise to see Ayutthaya head the betting for the 3yo 1m handicap.

He chased home good horses on his first two starts, not least leading 2,000 Guineas hope Elarqam at York, and then he posted a good time figure when winning on heavy ground at Chester. The step back up to 1m will suit, more rain isn't an issue, and a mark of 86 could well underestimate him.

He looks the likeliest winner if revved up for this race, but he does meet some race-fit and improving rivals and I reckon Fake News is definitely the bet at 7.06/1 or bigger against him. And a decent bet, too.

He created a good impression when winning over 6f in good to soft ground at Carlisle last August, then he went to Newmarket for a valuable sales ace, where he ran well despite the fact he found everything happening a touch too quickly over that trip on good ground.

He came out and bolted up over 7f at Wolverhampton earlier in the month and, although the handicapper has raised him 8lb for that, he was meeting fit and in-form horses there and saw them off easily.

I think he will relish going up to a mile here, and he could be a 3yo going places, from a relatively lowly starting point.

Time To Study can knuckle down and win the 15:35 at Musselburgh

I toyed with Clever Cookie at a price in the Queen's Cup at 15:35 but I kept on coming back to Time To Study.

I know he is one of the market leaders but I would have him as the clear favourite, so odds of around 11/2 are fair.

He blew out when sent off 11/1 in the Cesarewitch, probably not seeing out that extreme trip, but I believe he has the ability to develop into a leading player over 1m6f/2m this season.

He has a very willing attitude, as he showed when grinding it out at Doncaster, and showed he can also do it in messy and steadily-run contest, too, when winning a three-runner race at Newbury on his final start.

He is adaptable as regards ground, is a course and distance winner, and his record to date suggests he goes well when fresh. If he is near to full fitness - and this is a 100k pot so he should be in good condition - then this four-year-old could prove hard to beat.

Back him at 6.411/2 or bigger. We are playing at the lower end of our normal price range this weekend, but I feel it is justified.

Over at Haydock, we are edging towards soft ground too

Not a great deal at Haydock is floating my boat. Sleepy Haven interests me most in the three ITV races in the 14:40.

The return to 2m looks sure to suit him after runs over further on his last two starts, and he enjoys a 4lb pull for the six lengths he was beaten by Chti Balko here in December, and that small-field race wasn't run to suit. I think his earlier third at Lingfield was a better effort, anyway,

He is a course and distance winner, 2m in soft ground are his conditions, and trainer Jennie Candlish has her horses in good form with three winners in the past fortnight. There is enough pace in here - at least three like to go forward - for this hold-up performer to aim at late.

Hopefully, first-time blinkers will prove a positive, too. Candlish is an eye-catching three from four with this option since 2016, the most recent being Grove Silver at Carlisle earlier this month.

Back him at 17.016/1 or better, though I rate William Of Orange and Zulu Oscar viable alternatives at the prices.

Last year's Kim Muir fourth Potters Legend is weighted to get back on the scoresheet once again in the 15:15, as indeed as he was when falling at the last at Fakenham last time.

The handicapper pushed him up 2lb for that run but that is still 9lb lower than that Cheltenham Festival fourth in 2017, and he should be assured a solid gallop with about four of these that like to go on.

But Iit's a hard race to get a handle on - I quite like Killala Quay, even if he would ideally prefer good ground - and I will leave the race alone.

The same goes for the 14:05 in which Crievehill has an obvious chance, having gone up just 9lb for a 20-length Sandown win last time. He really did sluice up there.

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