The Close Brothers Handicap Chase at Kempton is the weekend's big race and Tony Calvin has scoured the betting for the value, picking out one to follow...
"I'd be inclined to think he still has a decent handicap in him off his revised mark."
I don't think I have ever analysed a big weekend race where none of the entries have an alternative engagement that day, but that is the case for the 19-runner Close Brothers Handicap Chase at Kempton on Saturday (3.35pm).
So that immediately makes it less likely that there will be any significant value in the early market, as you would have thought most will rock up for this valuable contest (42k+ to the winner), and the prices for most of the runners could actually be bigger come Thursday afternoon and beyond.
And, of course, each-way punters may even get a fifth place to play with.
For that reason I was not going to recommend a bet - if I personally will be waiting, that has to be the advice I give here - but I cracked at the last minute and thought Romain De Senam was a bet here and now at 12/1 each way, four places, with the Betfair Sportsbook.
I know what some may be thinking, in that I have a tendency to return to what I know a bit too much, and there is no denying that this horse did us a big favour when sluicing home by 12 lengths at Musselburgh last time.
That said, he cost me plenty when being brought down at Cheltenham the time before, when I kept on going back in on as he drifted wildly, and I am not one to blindly stick to backing and tipping horses who are a walking cash withdrawal machine.
And I think there is another pay day in Romain de Senam.
Romain must deny weight and trip questions
One of the negatives is that he went up 10lb for that runaway win in Scotland last time - where he was a massive drifter and went off a Betfair SP of 9.617/2, having been a 4s fixed-odds poke in the morning - and you can make the argument that the race fell apart to a degree.
However, while gauging the worth of the form is hard - none of the other finishers have been out over fences since - the time was very decent and I'd be inclined to think he still has a decent handicap in him off his revised mark.
After all, he is up to 148 now, and he has run to higher levels in the past. Or at least I believe he has.
It seems that Dan Skelton has rekindled the enthusiasm in the 9yo having got him off his former boss in the summer, as he travelled so well last time, and there is not a warmer trainer in the country right now.
The obvious other question mark with him is the trip, even has won over 2m7f before.
I accept that 2m4f is probably his optimum but he ran well when fourth in this race two years ago (when trained by Paul Nicholls) and the weather forecast (famous last words) is in his favour this week.
It is largely good to soft (soft in places) with a largely dry week, so hopefully this will be more of speed test over 3m than we have been seeing lately. And, besides, it was officially soft at Musselburgh, and Timeform agreed with that assessment.
Coming back to that fourth in this race in 2019, he did trade at 2/1 in running (when going off at 12/1+ on Betfair), so maybe we will be looking at some in-play insurance on the day given the stamina question.
But I watched that race back, and he seemed to get home fine to me, even his run flattened out to a degree from 2 out.
For the sake of clarity, I should mention he bombed out in this race last season off this mark, but I wouldn't read too much into that. He was a 33/1 poke having his first start since June there. Clearly, not the case here,
I gather he is an intended runner, so I am happy to pull the trigger at 12/1 each, four places.
I'll probably (but not certainly, if no further bet) be back with another ante-post column tomorrow.
Get up to £30 in free bets for Cheltenham with our superb offer
You can get up to £50 in free bets for Cheltenham in our fantastic Festival offer. Just bet £20 on the Exchange on each Saturday of racing from February 27 onwards to qualify. T&Cs apply. For full details click here.
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.