Tony Calvin: My early pair to back in the Cesarewitch

Racechorse Time To Study
Time To Study is Tony's first bet in the Cesarewitch
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There is a feast of high-quality, ITV-televised racing to enjoy on Friday and Saturday, and as ever our man to cover all the early betting angles is Tony Calvin

"I am actually going to suggest two investments at this stage. Back Time To Study at 16/1 and Eddystone Rock at 25/1, both each way and to five places on the Sportsbook (Betfair and Paddy Power are the only firms currently offering an extra place)."

Rarely do you see ITV staging an eight-race show on a Friday - from three meetings too, with the 2019-20 National Hunt season getting its first terrestrial airing with the Persian War at Chepstow - but that is what we have this week, and they are all priced up on the Betfair Sportsbook.

And with the Group 1 Dewhurst spearheading a strong Saturday, with the Cesarewitch the main betting event, then ante-post punters are really spoiled for choice.

So, without further ado, I better get stuck in. This could be a long ride, so buckle up.

Early angles on Chepstow and York

There are 20 entries in the Persian War on Friday and we are kind of guessing of what the ground will be, as it is currently good to soft at the track with a varying, unsettled forecast.

I was going to say, unusually, it may not even be soft, but in fact you have to go back to 2014 to find the last time the race had that going description.

As a result, I wouldn't know which are the likely runners at this stage - just four are jocked up, as I write - but it looks some competitive race, for sure.

Paul Nicholls has won four of the recent runnings and he has a couple of entries, but if you want a fit, progressive, in-form horse that is available at tempting double-figure odds in places, and being aimed at this race, then look no further than Some Day Soon.

He did really well to beat Ruthless Article under a big penalty at Stratford last time, but his chance would be compromised by any substantial rain this week, so he looks a sit-and-wait job.

There are a couple of ITV races at York on Friday too. The going at the Knavesmire is currently soft, but they look to have a dry week in store.

York straight action 1280.jpg

David O'Meara is mob-handed in the 1m handicap but you have to say that Waarif is his main contender, racing from just a 2lb higher mark than when beating smashed-up Saturday winner Kynren at Ayr last time - I doff my cap to whoever was responsible in sending the Ascot scorer off at 11/4 in that 17-runner handicap this weekend, by the way - and the ante-post market has he and Kasbaan vying for favouritism.

I don't have any beef with that early assessment - the 9/1 about Waarif in the marketplace on Monday afternoon looked on the generous side - but one at a bigger price than interests me is Mikmak.

He was a bit laboured in defeat at Carlisle last time but he had been pretty busy prior to that and a month break could be just what the vet ordered. He is 2lb lower than when a good third of 16 in this race last year, and he will certainly be on my short-list should he sneak into the race on Wednesday morning.

The 1m6f handicap is also on the telly box and Hamish understandably heads the market at 3/1 following his defeat of First In Line (who is also in here) over course and distance on good to firm in August.

I know the runner-up disappointed badly last time but a 6lb rise looks very fair considering the third Land Of Oz (more of him shortly) and the fifth won well on their following starts, and the fourth Skymax (also among the entries) hasn't run since.

I imagine William Haggas has had this race in mind for the horse (owned by his old man, and the family love a winner at this track) since the Melrose win, and he looks a very worthy favourite, especially as he also has form with cut. Mind you, he is also entered at Newmarket on Friday.

Ranch Hand is high up in the betting but everyone is expecting him to rock up in the Cesarewitch a day later (Oisin Murphy is already jocked up), and I was keen on the horse to he beat at Haydock last time, Trueshan, before I saw that Alan King's 3yo is also in at Newmarket on Friday (more on him shortly, too).

Friday and Saturday at Newmarket

On to Newmarket then, where we will concentrate on the Friday and Saturday racing for the rest of this article (though there are three races priced up for York at the weekend, too).

I may as well take Newmarket's action in chronological order, and I can quickly pass through the Cornwallis, which looks a messy, tight-knit race at this stage with four of the 19 vying for favouritism.

The Oh So Sharp Stakes doesn't excite either but I am surprised that the Sportsbook offer 10/1 about Valeria Messalina.

I know she has a lot to find on the basis of her narrow Naas maiden win but Jessie Harrington has enviable depth with her 2yo fillies, as we have seen with two recent Group 1 winners, so the fact that she is entered here suggests she is showing up well enough with her premier stable mates at home. And the form horses in the race don't set too daunting a standard.

We may as well jump one race ahead - especially as a very disappointing turn-out of nine for the £120,000 Challenge Stakes makes that of dubious betting interest - and Friday's Group 1 action in the shape of the Fillies' Mile.

Impressive Newbury winner Quadrilateral narrowly edges out the Harrington filly Cayenne Pepper and Love, who already has a Group 1 in the bag after her Moyglare win, and I couldn't have much of an argument with that assessment, though Powerful Breeze is probably a touch under-rated at 6/1+.

The 1m4f Old Rowley Handicap looks a potential cracker, but the big problem is that a fair few of them are also in the aforementioned 1m6f handicap at York, and elsewhere.

Indeed, they include two of the market leaders - First In Line and Hamish - as well as such as Moon King, Skymax and Trueshan, and Battle Of Paradise also has two other options this week, too.

So tread very carefully here.

I see Trueshan is jocked up here (William Buick) and not at York, and I do like the angle of him stepping back to 1m4f after his second to leading Ces fancy Ranch Hand over 2f further at Haydock last time.

He did particularly well there given he was detached in the middle of the track, away from the pace-setters on the far rail - and he was held up a fair way off that pace, too - and his run flattened out a touch late on as well, suggesting a strongly-run 1m4f could be optimal.

I really was tempted to put him up at a double-figure price for the Newmarket race but it could be that connections will wait and see what the weather does (it is also soft at the HQ at the time of writing), and make a late call on Thursday afternoon.

A very reluctant pass, especially as he could easily go off favourite at Newmarket if he runs, and plenty of the major opposition goes to York.

Pinatubo looked set for a lap of honour in the Dewhurst on Saturday after his off-the-scale brilliance in Ireland last time, but at least he now could have a worthy opponent after Wichita was supplemented for £40,000 on Monday morning.

Wichita has been installed as the 4/1 second favourite, behind the 1/3 jolly, and he certainly looked a decent 2yo tool in his own right when winning the Tattersall Stakes by seven lengths in a quick time over track and trip last time, stepping up a good deal on his earlier narrow defeat at the hands of fellow entry Molatham at Doncaster.

It is currently soft at Newmarket and that is one unknown for Pinatubo, but he really did look awesome at the Curragh last time, and the nine-length runner-up Armory hardly let the form down when a length third in Sunday's Lagardere.

My two to follow in the Cesarewitch

There is little doubt that the Cesarewitch will attract far more cash than the 2yo race on Saturday and, with just 39 five-day entries, we may not even get a full field of 34.

That is good news for Sir Mark Prescott, as his Land Of Oz now looks sure to get a run, but possibly a troublesome development for his stable jockey Luke Morris, who presumably now has to decide between him and the similarly-priced Goodwood winner Timoshenko, a long-term "plot" at the 2m2f handicap.

I can actually see Land Of Oz, a current 8/1 chance on the Sportsbook (was 10/1 early on Monday) and not much bigger on the exchange, possibly going off favourite on Sunday, as he looked good when winning an admittedly pretty uncompetitive trial here on good to firm last time, and he is a fast-progressing 3yo for whom the expected easier weekend ground is thought to be preferable.

He is also 2lb well-in here, as he continues to charge up the handicap after winning off a mark of 58 in July.

But it sounds as if connections are worried by the fact that he has been going hard at it since mid- July, with seven runs, and this big-field challenge will be a draining affair for the youngster.

He does have an attractive profile, though, that is for sure.

However, I better put up an ante-post bet after all the guff above and, while I fully respect the claims of Willie Mullins' Buildmeupbuttercup and Ranch Hand, I am actually going to suggest two investments at this stage.

Back Time To Study at 16/1 and Eddystone Rock at 25/1, both each way and to five places on the Sportsbook (Betfair and Paddy Power are the only firms currently offering an extra place).

Time To Study did us - well, he did one for me anyway - a big favour when beating the gambled-on, and subsequent winner, Alright Sunshine over 1m6f at Haydock last time, with the pair four lengths clear.

So a 7lb rise could have actually been worse and I loved the way he travelled into this race that day, then found when asked again late on. With just a 4lb penalty here, he is actually 3lb well-in.

He patently didn't stay the 2m4f when third to stablemate The Grand Visir and Buildmeupbuttercup at Royal Ascot - he traded at odds-on in the run - and I am willing to take a chance on him at this 2f shorter trip.

His questionable stamina is clearly the big potential negative and he didn't shine in this race two years ago but, given the form he is in and with Cieren Fallon already booked - and he was just about in front over a furlong out at Ascot - I have to give him another chance.

If he lasts home, he won't be far away.

The trip is also an unknown for Eddystone Rock but given the way he has finished off, and won, his last two races since being stepped back up to 2m, then he is surely odds-on to see out this 2m2f. Mind you, two years ago he was running in a Cambridgeshire!

A bit of ease in the ground will suit and, just 4lb higher than for his York win last time, he has to be my second bet in the race, win and place, at 25/1.

His stable are also three from nine runners since September 24 (and two from four this month), and he is certainly unexposed as a stayer. And, boy, did he power home on the near side when winning last time from way off the pace.

As ever, good luck.


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