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Saturday Racing Tips: Tony Calvin's going for a song at Cheltenham

Cheltenham race action
Tony has four selections at Cheltenham on Saturday

We have some fascinating contests on day two of Cheltenham's November Meeting, and here to run you through the action is our resident tipster Tony Calvin...

"He is a fairly handicapped horse on that Bangor second, and if the extra 5f and initial tongue-tie improve him, then we could really be in business against the flashier types."

Stimulating Song at 13.012/1 or bigger in 15:25 at Cheltenham

I tend, or at least try, to shy away from the obvious when betting, and that is very true of the 2m5f handicap hurdle at 15:25 at Cheltenham on Saturday.

The race is full of sexy merchants that are sure to be popular with punters.

Wide-margin, last-time-out winners, lightly-raced lurkers and unexposed sorts rule the roost when it comes to the betting, but my eyes were immediately drawn to Stimulating Song and he rates a decent bet at 13.012/1 or bigger.

Step up in trip has stimulated a bet

Now, he clearly doesn't have the glaring upside of some of the market leaders, but I reckon we are set to see a much-improved performance from him, stepping up in trip.

He is certainly not bred to be a stayer and he pretty much flopped when tried over this distance behind McFabulous at Kempton in March, but you can surely put a line through that run - he hung left throughout and he also lost a shoe there, for what the latter is worth - and certainly not attribute it to him not lasting home over 2m5f.

He was never at the races that day, and I imagine connections ditched the experiment of going right-handed with him there and then.

He had winning soft-ground novice hurdle form before that, notably when a neck second to Gaelic Coast (winner of his only start since, albeit over fences), and that ability to handle testing conditions could prove handy with the heavens set to open on Saturday. The ground could turn soft pretty quickly.

But it is the step up in trip to 2m5f once again that encourages me most.

He has always been a strong stayer at 2m and that was firmly in evidence at Chepstow last time, a race in which he was a candidate for last place three out when seemingly going nowhere, only to stay on really well to take fourth.

Now, we shouldn't get too excited by the bare form - he was beaten over 12 lengths after all, and the first two home have been well beaten since - but I just think he looks all over a stayer, and the 1lb drop in the weights is welcome, too, if not overly-generous.

Go and take a look at his fifth here in a heavy-ground bumper last October, and you will see what I mean. He is a grinder, isn't he?

He is a fairly handicapped horse on that Bangor second, and if the extra 5f and initial tongue-tie improve him, then we could really be in business against the flashier types.

For the sake of completion of the case for him, I should probably add Milton Harris is doing well with his jumpers this month, with a winner at Bangor on Wednesday from just seven runners in November (only one of the others has been out of the first four, with one beaten just a length by a 2/5 poke and another second at 25/1 at Ludlow on Thursday).

He is one of the two bets of the day for me, alongside another we will get to, shortly.

No tip but What A Moment is of some interest

I'll take the rest of the day in chronological order, and the each-way punters will be hoping the dead eight all stand their ground in the juvenile hurdle at 12:30.

Even though he has a 5lb penalty, Gordon Elliott's Duffle Coat looks the obvious one to beat on form and on the clock after his impressive Wetherby win last time, and the way he pulled clear after the last suggests this stiff track will suit him.

I have no massive desire to take him on - I am sure plenty will with Hell Red, who was surprisingly put in at the evens favourite by one firm on Thursday - but maybe Historic Heart will be the one to back each way at 12/1+ if they don't get too much rain pre-race and all eight go to post, as he did very well to give the smart Flat horse First Impression 6lb at Wetherby last time.

But nothing doing for the time being.

Apple's Jade and Limini Cheltenham 2017 (1280).jpg

Storm Control would be very interesting if staying the 3m1f trip in the 13:05 but that has to be a fair doubt as he has never raced beyond 2m5f under Rules.

However, there is stamina on the dam side (related to Scottish National winner Grey Abbey) and he did win his only point by 20 lengths, so you can see why they are chancing their arm.

It is a big guess though, as is supporting What A Moment to be honest with you, but the opening price (one firm opened up at 12/1) and the handicapper nearly dragged me in to the latter.

He won this race in 2016 and 2017 and, although he has clearly had his problems since the latter win, the assessor dropped him another 5lb for his reappearance run at Chepstow and he is now 12lb lower than for the success three years ago.

It is hard to know what to make of the Chepstow run - especially as he went out of shot up the straight - but he seemed to be going nicely enough out the (distant) back, jumping well, and maybe the priority was to give him a confidence-booster after he had a wind operation during his 10-month absence.

I was all set to take a chance with him off that rapidly-falling handicap mark, but his price ebbed away and I am also worried about the rain setting in before the race, as he wants good ground.

Good luck to those who likes their small-field novices' chases in trying to get the winner of the 13:40 but the six-runner race is not for me, once again.

Domaine and Kauto two big outsiders to consider in the feature

The big one is at 14:15 and the Paddy Power is a real head-scratcher, which is why you are getting extra places.

I couldn't put you off any of the front three in the market, as Saint Sonnet, Simply The Betts and Mister Fisher all have plenty to recommend them, but of course they were never likely to be missed in the market.

So I am going to split my stakes on two massive outsiders.

Domaine De L'Isle is the first and he arrives here after running moderately in a novices' hurdle here last month.

But chasing is his discipline and that was obviously a pipe-opener for this, and he did win second-time-out last season when hacking up at Chepstow.

He ended up going 26lb after that win, as he also took in victories at Newcastle and Ascot, but he is still only a 7yo and who is to say he cannot kick on again.

That Ascot win also came in a very good time and, if the rain arrives in time, this mud-lover could massively outrun his odds.

Back him at 75.074/1 or bigger.

The other outsider is a similarly price, and Kauto Riko is another horse who has s bit more going for him than his odds imply, so he is worth backing at 50.049/1 and upwards.

As a heavy-ground winner, he is another who wouldn't mind more than the forecast rain arriving (which is plenty), but his chance here rests largely on whether if he can reproduce his ¾-length second to Top Notch in the Peterborough Chase on his reappearance last season, or indeed if you believe it (though that may be a touch harsh as he also recorded a good time when winning at Haydock in December 2018).

He was a 100/1 chance and was getting only 4lb from the 161-rated winner in the Peterborough, with the 150-rated La Bague Au Roi 2½ lengths away in third, so his chance is there for all to see off a mark of just 142 here.

And while that may have been a bit of a one-off - and he certainly didn't run up to that level in three subsequent starts - the winner and third franked the form next time and maybe it was his freshness and the first-time tongue-tie that was the prompt for that excellent run.

He has had a wind op since we last saw him, and the handicapper has given him every chance to prove that Huntingdon run was no fluke on his comeback, dropping him 5lb from his Plate run behind Simply The Betts in March. Hopefully, he will shine again when fresh.

Taking a punt on Weather being kind on Saturday

I nearly went for another total outsider in 33/1 chance Who's My Jockey in the 3m handicap hurdle at 14:50 but the quick turnaround from his promising fifth at Kempton on Monday could be pushing it.

I am going to throw a dart at 17.016/1 or bigger on Weather Front though at his first start at 3m. Actually, more of a spear as he is my joint best-bet of the day, along with Stimulating Song.

The furthest he has gone to date has been the 2m5f he has run over recently, and he has actually shaped as though a greater test of stamina would suit on both occasions.

He came home well from an unpromising position here last time, having been around third-last at the penultimate flight, and this 3m trip could really see him improve. His dam won over 1m6f on the Flat and was a thorough and smart (rated 97) stayer, so maybe his stamina-in-waiting shouldn't come as too much of a shock.

The fitting of the cheekpieces is another very interesting angle too, as he won in them on four occasions on the Flat. This is the first time he has worn them over jumps.

As I said, very interesting.

I am a bit worried at the prospect of soft ground, as most of his form is on good, but he was only just touched off at Wetherby in February on soft, so I will happily take my chance, with Conor O'Farrell taking over from a 3lb claimer.

There are two all-weather Listed races at Lingfield on ITV, but I am happy to leave them alone.

It is the jumps season proper now, innit?

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