Tony Calvin landed his second big price winner - both advised at 33/1 - in a matter of weeks on Sunday, and our resident tipster returns with his bets for Saturday's ITV Racing action...
"I’d be inclined to think he still has a big run in him off his revised mark. He is back up to 148 now, but he has run to higher levels in the past."
Decent class racing this weekend, and maybe even a next-month Cheltenham winner on show, but it doesn't scream "come and get me" on the punting front at all, and there is really no need to push it if the bets are not there.
I didn't think I would be, but then I came up with three fresh bets and a press-up, all at double-figure odds.
I put up Romain De Senam at 12/1 each-way, four places, on Monday for the 3m handicap chase at 15:35 and the weather has certainly played ball for him, as I am working on the basis of good ground at Kempton on Saturday.
Which is ideal for him, especially as he goes back up to 3m, the upper end of his stamina range.
My main question mark with him is that 3m trip.
I think he is best at around 2m4f to be honest (an assessment backed up by his record), and he bombed out in this race last season, albeit I wouldn't read too much into that performance. He was a 33/1 chance, having his first start since June there.
So an entirely different situation here, given his back-to-form win over an extended 2m4f last month.
And he has won over 2m7f in the past, as well finishing a 5 ½-length fourth in this race in 2019, and yet another review of that run suggested he saw it out well enough. He had plenty of opportunity to wilt up the straight and didn't.
So hopefully I am worrying unduly on the stamina front, especially in these drying conditions, and the other potential negative - aside this deep field - is that he went up 10lb for that runaway win in Scotland (on soft ground too, which may not have been ideal and triggered his big, late drift) last time.
You can make the argument that the race fell apart to a degree - and this handicap is 10 times as competitive, I readily agree - but the Musselburgh time was very decent and I'd be inclined to think he still has a big run in him off his revised mark. He is back up to 148 now, but he has run to higher levels in the past.
It seems that Dan Skelton has rekindled the enthusiasm in the 9yo, and it is conceivable he comes here in the form of his career after that Musselburgh win.
As expected, the five-day field has held up remarkably well - I was hoping it didn't hold up this well though, with only one of the 19 not confirmed at 10am on Thursday - and my ante-post play is actually a bigger price now.
So I have to be happy to go in again, and he is the recommended bet to those fresh to the party, too.
Back him at 16.015/1 or bigger win-only on the exchange.
Finger pointing towards switch for another bet
I am going to add a second string to the old bow, and there were a few contenders at the prices before I settled on the saver.
Aso is 3lb well-in after his narrow second at Wetherby earlier in the month (they re-fit cheekpieces here), they clearly went too hard with Mellow Ben in that red-hot Royal Pagaille handicap here last time and he is much better than that, and course specialist Erick Le Rouge is very interesting with the blinkers on off a mark of just 134.
However, there is scant evidence that the latter is a three-miler, even on this better ground, with the headgear to concentrate the mind and body and the assistance of Jamie Moore.
The one I finally landed on is Fingerontheswitch at 15.014/1 or bigger on the exchange.
The negatives are that he is an 11yo now and he has got stuffed in his last three starts.
But the upside of the latter is that he has come down 7lb in the weights and he is on the same mark as when agonisingly chinned ½ length by Ok Corral in the Sky Bet Chase at Donny last year, with the third 14 lengths away, after hitting 1.4640/85 in the run.
And that came after a 10-length success over this course and distance a fortnight earlier.
Both of those performances came on good to soft and there is no doubt whatsoever that he is at his best on decent ground, and that Millie Wonnacott is very good value for her 7lb claim - she is 9 from 41 this season, and can do 9st 7lb, too - and conditions would have been far too testing for him in recent starts at Haydock and Sandown.
There are at least five in the race who like to go forward, so that should suit his hold-up style perfectly, too.
All in all, this seems an ideal set-up for him, and all of his better career starts have come this side on Christmas (January to March) on the ground he will get here.
In fact, he'd now be my number one bet in the race at 12/1+, despite the opening, across-the-board 20/1 gradually disappearing from Thursday morning, as did the lingering 16s on Friday.
Outsider Marta not discounted in the Adonis
I have no betting opinion in the four-runner novices' chase at 13:50 - they will write that on my tombstone - and the juvenile and novices' hurdles on ITV are obviously very tricky too, given the unexposed nature of the participants.
Dan Skelton's newcomer John Locke is interesting in the Adonis at 14:25 and not just because he is a 85-rated, 1m2f- winning £75k recruit from the Flat.
Zarkandar won this race first time out for the same owners in 2011 before winning the Triumph three weeks later, so that adds another layer of intrigue to the chances of the 14/1 poke.
The other one I had a look at was Marta Des Mottes, who opened up at 50s in places.
Considering she was rated 132 when first coming over from France, after winning two of her three starts over hurdles, that seemed a huge price. If that initial mark was anywhere near accurate, she is a major player getting the weight here.
Of course, you have to forgive her a tame debut for the yard when last of five at in a Listed mares' contest at Taunton in late December, but you'd be disappointed if that was her true running - she was due to run in the abandoned Grade 1 Finale at Chepstow, and she was weak in the betting at Taunton - and the fact that she is still in the Boodles at Cheltenham suggest connections have not lost the faith just yet.
She is clearly a very risky proposition but maybe the heavy ground at Taunton wasn't to her liking - one of her wins came on good - but I am going to suggest a win-only bet on her at 40.039/1 or bigger. And 33/1 upwards would be okay, too. No less, though, given the blow-out potential.
In fact, the ground could be a massive angle into her chance. Timeform said that her other French win came on good to soft (against the official version of soft).
Tender handling might just see Crossley get the Eider trip
Lunar Sovereign is arguably a touch overpriced at around double figures on the exchange in the Dovecote at 15:00 as his Wetherby win from a subsequent scorer, and his Doncaster success under a 7lb penalty last time, read well.
This is a hike in class though and those victories came on deeper ground than this, so I can pass him by.
The 4m1f56yd Eider Chase at Newcastle at 15:15 is much more my cup of tea.
Five of the horses are wrong at the weights - four are out of the handicap and The Dutchman is due to go down 2lb in the future - though whether that is a significant barrier to success over these extreme trips is open to question.
Not ideal though, especially when you are 27lb wrong like Friends Don't Ask!
I'd have been prepared to take a chance of Springfield Fox in first-time cheek pieces but his current price does not reflect an attractive risk and reward exchange after his last two pulled-up outings. I'd have been wanting 14/1 minimum myself, given the doubts.
The 2019 winner Crosspark is the most solid and the only one proven at the trip, though Big River may get a small tick on that front, and a few of these do promise to be suited by the test.
I am going to take a chance with one of the latter contingent in the shape of Crossley Tender at 12.011/1 or bigger (9/1+ is fine).
He looked all over a dour stayer when winning over 3m2f in the mud at Newton Abbot in October (and when following up over the same trip at Fontwell over hurdles next time), and everything he has done since over 3m has suggested the same.
Now, it is easy to be blasé about a horse's run-style and make easy assumptions about how much further they will stay - and Crossley Tender is going the thick-end of a mile further than he has ever been before - but I am willing to take the risk after his third at Ascot last time when he came from miles off the pace.
Not only did that run over 3m suggest he really is a grinder but it also confirmed to me that he is also very much going the right way and possesses a genuine, likeable profile that you need when it gets down and dirty over these extreme trips, which it will in soft/heavy here.
Close to a bet on the all-weather
Two all-weather races seem to have crept on to the ITV running order, but at least they are Group 3 and Listed contests from Lingfield worth £55k and £30k respectively.
The downside is that they have attracted a mere 12 runners between them - a very poor turn-out for the cash, clearly - but I found myself very nearly sticking up Johnny Drama at around 6/1 on the exchange in the 14:40.
He is the highest-rated horse in the race, ran well enough as a 16/1 chance on his sole course start here in December and has sound clock credentials, but his modest record off a break was just enough to deter me in the final analysis.
And while I know you should never take too much notice of trainers, Andrew Balding did not exactly sound too bullish on Thursday, when basically saying he didn't think this was his horse's ideal track but he has nowhere else to go, so he will give it a crack.
The bet was pushing it, so I left it.
Best of luck.
Tony Calvin P/L - Jumps Season, 2020/21
February (to date): +19.82
2020 Flat Season (June 1-November): +20.8
Previous P&L (April 14 2017 to Apr 1 2020): +303.4
*Please note: All recommended Exchange bets are settled at Betfair SP, not at prices available at time of publication.
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Back Romain De Senam in 15:35 at Kempton at 16.015/1
Back Fingerontheswitch in 15:35 at Kempton at 15.014/1
Back Marta Des Mottes in 14:25 at Kempton at 40.039/1
Back Crossley Tender in 15:15 at Newcastle at 12.011/1
Romain De Senam in the 15:35 at Kempton, each-way at 12/1