Saturday Racing Tips: Shangani can do the business at Cheltenham

Shangani runs at Cheltenham on Saturday afternoon
Shangani runs at Cheltenham on Saturday afternoon

Tipster extraordinaire Tony Calvin is back and has picked two big-priced runners worth your hard-earned at Cheltenham and Doncaster on Saturday afternoon...

"He ran poorly on his first two starts this season but there was more promise in his third at Kempton last time, and he could be ready strike off a falling handicap mark. He is now 3lb lower than when a good fourth at the Festival over track and trip, and testing conditions suit him well."

Back Shangani at 11.010/1 or bigger in the 13:50 at Cheltenham

Unioniste is a very worthy favourite, but a course-and-distance handicap run six weeks ago could provide the key to the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster at 15:15.

That race was won by Night In Milan with Mart Lane 13 lengths back in third and Baile Anrai a length further back in fourth.

Both third and fourth have won since, so Night In Milan is theoretically entitled to beat them again on the revised terms and the market reflects this, but all three horses are clearly in good nick and I find the odds available about Baile Anrai hard to resist. 

Back him at 18.017/1 or bigger.

He at least has a pull at the weights with Night In Milan - he is 6lb better off today - and it has be encouraging that he got his head in front last time.

That win came, rather surprisingly perhaps, over just 2m at Leicester, but it proved Baile Anrai's ability to travel at a good clip and he has won over 2m6f at Towcester and 3m1f in soft ground at Market Rasen, so the move back up to 3m is not a problem. In fact, it's a positive.

It didn't take long for Paul Nicholls' former assistant Dan Skelton to make his mark as a trainer. He has already won this season's Ladbroke at Ascot, but it's with chasers that he has enjoyed most success, numerically at least. 

He has an impressive 25% win record in that sphere, with 21 of his 32 runners hitting the first four and Baile Anrai has done that on all four outings since joining Skelton from Ian Williams.

Indeed, two of the ten-year-old's best runs in the past 20 months have come for Skelton, who has clearly teased him back to form. Baile Anrai has often threatened to win a decent prize - Williams always felt he had a good handicap in him - and it's only 14 months since he went off at just 8-1 for the 14-runner £100k handicap at Ascot. That was off a mark of 140, some 13lb higher than he is today, so I reckon there is some juice in his current rating.

I will have a saver on Unioniste at 5.95/1 though. 

I thought more use should have been made of him in the steadily-run Lexus last time, but he still ran a very creditable race and I think a mark of 153 underplays his talents. Who knows, perhaps an impressive win will see the Gold Cup back on the agenda if it does come up testing in March.

He won't thank me for saying this but a repeat of last season's assistant-beats-master Racing Plus Chase - where Harry Fry's Opening Batsman beat Nicholls' Rolling Aces - will do just fine.

All eyes will be on Annie Power in the mares' race, but I can't see much of an edge in either of the other Channel 4 races at Doncaster - I was very taken with Caid Du Berlais at Exeter and think he could the one to beat in the novice chase earlier on the card - so over we go to Cheltenham.

It wouldn't surprise me if one bookie made a big thing of going odds-against Big Buck's tomorrow morning - to what size it is laid is another matter - but that isn't my type of bet. And nor is Rocky Creek at around the 6-4 mark in the Argento, even though I think he is by far the most likely winner.

Shangani has tempted me in the 13:50 though. Back him at odds of 11.010/1 or bigger.

He ran poorly on his first two starts this season but there was more promise in his third at Kempton last time, and he could be ready strike off a falling handicap mark. He is now 3lb lower than when a good fourth at the Festival over track and trip, and testing conditions suit him well.

He needs to jump better than he has been doing, though I am sure his trainer has been focusing on that aspect at home.

The stable believe that Ulck Du Lin will improve for this step up in trip, and the handicapper has dropped him 9lb for his three starts this season. He could prove the main danger to the selection.

Recommended Bets

Back Balie Anrai at 18.017/1 or bigger in the 15:15 at Doncaster
Back Shangani at 11.010/1 or bigger in the 13:50 at Cheltenham

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