ITV Races - Tony Calvin

Sunday ITV Racing Tips: Tony Calvin's three to back at Ascot and York

York race action
Tony has two each-way selections in the competitive 14:10 handicap at York

"So I really like the angle of him stepping down to 1m4f here, and he has run well on all five previous visits to the track..."

Back Almania at 5.59/2 or bigger in 14:30 at Ascot

The ITV Racing action continues at Ascot, York and the Curragh on Sunday afternoon, and our resident tipster Tony Calvin has a trio of bets for you to consider...

ITV racing weigh in with another eight races on Sunday, and they kick off with a devilishly difficult 5f handicap at Ascot at 13:55.

Whatever you back will provide a fair indicator of what kind of punter you are, as this race has a horse for everyone.

We have the in-form sprinters like Magic J and Mountain Peak, sexy merchants like the unbeaten, twice-raced Bomb Proof, stable-switchers like Mubaalegh and El Hombre, a first-time headgear angle with Street Parade, flatterers like Aplomb, and a few horses that have cascaded down the handicap and are thrown in and old form.

I suppose the wisest punter of all would be the one that gives the contest a wide berth after outlining all of that, but I must admit that I nearly pulled the trigger with Blue De Vega, whose excellent Ascot form and his lowest-ever handicap mark make him very interesting after a fair Sandown fourth to the admittedly impressive Magic J last week.

And then I realised he was running at Newmarket on Saturday - and I have literally just seen he has won that race while I am writing this - so I can't really tip him, as I doubt he will even be turned out again here under a penalty just 24 hours later.

Step back in trip and stable form positives for Almania

I am not a fan of trackers and keeping lists of horses to follow - come to each race fresh, and free from set and pre-conceived ideas is always the best advice - but I must admit that I have been waiting for Almania to reappear after his massively eye-catching reappearance run over 1m6f at Royal Ascot.

And he does so in the 14:30.

I thought he was going to bolt up at one stage in that 1m6f handicap - he traded at evens in the run - but his effort flattened out, probably due to his stable not really firing at the time and possibly because he finds that trip stretches his stamina a touch too far. And almost certainly a combination of both.

So I really like the angle of him stepping down to 1m4f here, and he has run well on all five previous visits to the track, and the main question I had to answer was did I like his price in a competitive race.

With the David Simcock stable now hitting its stride, I was very much inclined to back him each way at 5/1 until that cut got to 4/1 early doors, so I am going to recommend a win-only exchange bet at 5.59/2 or bigger.

I'll pass on the next couple of races

Billesdon Brook is the obvious form horse in the fillies' Group 3 race at 15:05 and the worry for her is will she get the strong pace to aim at that she prefers/needs?

There are two or three pace candidates here - maybe most obviously the unbeaten Miss O Connor, though she may need more rain if she is to run - so that is good news for her would-be supporters.

But this race looks a bit too tricky to me, with prices on offer not too far detached from what I was expecting.

Hence, I will pass.

If the More Beautiful that easily won what was a very strong maiden at Naas turns up here - and was expected to turn up when disappointing in the Queen Mary - then I suspect she will win the 15:40.

But she has missed her last two intended engagements because of ease in the ground, so connections will be on weather watch again with her.

Course loving veterans have to be backed

I am finding bets hard to come by this weekend but two of York's three ITV races - the listed contest at 15:20 didn't look my cup of tea and further study confirmed that - immediately gave me hope of unearthing some punts, namely because they were handicaps with healthy line-ups.

Dancing Vega is the big headscratcher in the 7f handicap at 14:10 as she could prove to be very well treated off 87. She is a half-sister to the very smart Sky Kingdom and clearly has a totally unexposed profile.

But we haven't seen her in this country - she ran twice in the States in late summer - since she disappointed when sent off at 3/1 for the 2019 Fred Darling, wearing a first-time hood (trainer is 6 from 38 with this in the last decade), so I do not know what to expect.

I do know what is coming when I back Firmament though, and that is disappointment!

That may be harsh about the course favourite, and he is now back on the same mark as when winning here last year (his first success since another York victory in 2016), and his last run is easily forgiven and forgotten.

Someone memorably said on Twitter that his jockey had a rougher ride and passage than Frank and Pat Butcher ever had in the Square on his latest outing (or words to that effect), and the horse certainly got pestered throughout the final 2f and never got any proper racing room whatsoever.

In the circumstances, the run is easily forgiven - even though I had £100 each-way on him that day, so I haven't quite forgotten it yet - so a 2lb drop in the weights was something of a bonus.

Therefore, I was going to make no excuses for putting him up here each-way at 6/1, four places. I know he is an 8yo now but his track form pretty much demands the bet is placed.

But then the dreaded price cut change came on Saturday, and the 6/1 became 9/2, so I had to ditch the each-way angle - a 25% price reduction, in pure price terms, was just too much for me - and put him up at 6.411/2 or bigger, win-only, on the exchange instead.

York grandstand 1280.jpg

If I was backing Firmament at 6s, then I have to back So Beloved at 14/1 each-way, too.

He was two places ahead of his stablemate in fourth in that messy race here last time (and he got a nudge or two late on as well, causing him to drift left), shaping nicely, and he too was dropped 2lb for it.

And that is not where the similarities end.

At 10yo, So Beloved is also one of the older men in this field and one whose handicap mark is on the downslope, and he can also boast plenty of good course form, too.

He is now a whopping 17lb lower than when starting 2019 and he showed enough last time for me to back him win and place here.

Jones looks solid while Magical should win another Group 1

After a good third at Ascot last time, Jonah Jones holds an obvious chance in the 6f handicap at 14:45 but he is priced accordingly.

The same applies to the other horse in the race that interested me, Muscika, who is 3lb well-in after his close second here last weekend, and he didn't run that badly when a beaten 5/2 favourite in first-time blinkers at Ripon on Friday night. But I imagine he could be a doubtful runner after his recent exertions.

The more I looked the more I thought Jonah Jones was very solid, but I have already put up two horses at much shorter prices than I usually play at, and I am loathe to make it three, especially in a sprint handicap.

The three left-overs from Aidan O'Brien's six King George five-day entries rock up in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh at 14:55 and another Group 1 success for Magical looks in the offing.

She looked as good ever when winning here on her reappearance and this ultra-consistent 5yo (well, the Arc run aside) should have little difficulty here if anywhere near her best, as the betting suggests.

We are all desperate for winners in this game, but we can let the 1/3 chances pass us by.

Good luck.

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