Saturday Racing Tips: Melodious to call the tunes at Newbury
With still two weeks of the flat racing season to go Tony Calvin isn't quite ready to switch to 'jumps' mode just yet, so here's our man's four selections from Saturday afternoon's racing at Doncaster and Newbury...
"It's fair to say her second to Flying Officer and fourth to Journey were well advertised by that pair on Champions Day at Ascot last weekend. And while she was some way behind the clear-cut winner last time at Newmarket, the return to soft ground is going to be very much in her favour."
It doesn't take Kevin of TV's Eggheads fame to work out that Foundation is the rightful favourite for the Racing Post Trophy at 15:45 at Doncaster, but with bookmakers reporting that he was the only horse punters wanted to back when they priced up the contest on Monday it's hard to argue that he is any value at around the even-money mark.
Just how much cash the layers took on a race that was, and is, not exactly an attractive betting heat is another matter - my guess is not a lot, even though it was the only weekend race that they priced up ante-post - but Foundation is the form horse, having beaten second favourite Deauville in the Royal Lodge last time.
That said, Deauville seemed to get caught out either by the steady early pace or Newmarket's undulations and he might just be seen to better effect on this flatter track, especially with, you'd imagine, Emmet McNamara under orders to make it a true test on Ballydoyle third string Port Douglas. He is too good a horse to ignore, so a decent pace looks assured.
And the O'Brien supposed second string, Lagardere fourth Johannes Vermeer, and Nottingham winner Mengli Khan are horses that I have a bit of time for in this, too.
However, the shape of the race doesn't lead me to getting involved, although I suspect the favourite, who isn't a dominant form choice by any means, could well drift from even money. Ante-post money is small beer and has a habit of becoming stale come post-time these days.
Still, there are better punting opportunities on the Doncaster card at the sort of prices at which we like to attack, although they don't include the opening 14:00 which ought to be at the mercy of Dhahmaan, whose second to subsequent runaway Group 2 winner Donjuan Triumphant makes him the clear form pick.
But playing at short prices is not really what this column is all about, and of more interest is Robot Boy in the 14:35.
He is 5lb lower than when winning a Newbury handicap off a mark of 103 in April, and he ran really well when a close fourth in a competitive handicap at Ascot off 3lb higher than that in July.
Three subsequent runs came when David Barron's stable appeared to be struggling for form and they were all over slightly further than he wants anyway, as all his best form is at 5f.
He went back over that trip and finished a good fourth to Maljaa on soft ground at Haydock on his penultimate outing, though, suggesting he still retains his ability and you can forget his last-time effort at York as he was drawn on the wrong side and back over 6f.
His trainer has always said he wants 5f and fast ground, but Robot Boy has won on soft and the surface will in any case be faster than it was at Haydock.
The course and distance winner rates a bet at [21.0] or bigger.
In the 15:10 Buonarroti looks worth a bet at [15.0] or bigger now he goes back over 1m4f.
He can be a bit in-and-out, but he has threatened to win a couple of times this season, including when fourth over the extended 1m2f in a good handicap here.
And he was back on track when a close second to Penhill at Haydock over 1m4f off this mark at the start of last month.
Penhill would undoubtedly be one of the market leaders were he running in this race, and Buonarroti hasn't run that badly in a couple of steadily-run races back at 1m2f since. Hopefully, it'll be a different story over this longer trip.
At Newbury there look to be a couple of decent punts and I particularly want to take on "form" horses Romsdal and Rawaki in the 14:25.
Romsdal has a big class edge if at his best, but he has been some way short of that on his last two starts, while Rawaki has been well beaten the last two times he raced on ground this soft, although he used to handle it well enough.
Both have to give plenty of weight-for-age and sex allowances to David Elsworth's Melodious though, and she is the bet at around [7.0]. And a pretty confident one, too.
It's fair to say her second to Flying Officer and fourth to Journey were well advertised by that pair on Champions Day at Ascot last weekend. And while she was some way behind the clear-cut winner last time at Newmarket, the return to soft ground is going to be very much in her favour.
She seems to be improving at the right time to take a race that has long had a history of going to fillies and mares, with five of the last nine winners being females.
In the 15:00 it's worth taking a chance on Latin Charm returning in good heart after the best part of six months off since running a career-best on the all-weather at Chelmsford back in April.
He must have had a problem or two to have been off for so long and conditions will be a lot different here, but in that respect it's a plus rather than a negative.
Latin Charm has form figures of 121 when racing on soft or heavy ground and the wins came in October 2013 and October 2014, so this is clearly his time of year.
He is worth chancing at [11.0] or bigger.
There are also three good races from Cheltenham on C4. But to be honest I am still pretty much in Flat mode, and nothing screams out at me at the prices. The jumps can wait for another week or two.
Best of luck.
Back Melodious at [7.0] in the 14:25 at Newbury
Back Robot Boy at [21.0] in the 14:35 at Doncaster
Back Latin Charm at [11.0] in the 15:00 at Newbury
Back Buonarroti at [15.0] in the 15:10 at Doncaster