Tony Calvin: Early thoughts on Saturday's ITV ante-post races

Ascot race finish
There are some competitive races on Saturday's ITV Racing schedule
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There are some competitive races lined up for Saturday's ITV Racing coverage, and here with his early thoughts, and his list of double-entries, is Tony Calvin...

"Tinto was the closest I came to a bet at 16-1 in the sprint handicap, but I don't see him as a big shortener, even if there are a lot of defections, and there are negatives, as I said."

I didn't hold out too much hope that many of the weekend races would be priced up by the Betfair Sportsbook given the quality inevitably dips after Goodwood - though I am sure the Shergar Cup knockers will be glad that the international challenge bit the dust earlier this year - but they have done themselves proud by pricing up all seven Of ITV's contests on Saturday.

This will be the first time in five years that I haven't been holed up in my Cyprus hideaway for the two weeks after the Glorious meeting - and I am sure that will disappoint the Timeform duo of Dan Barber and Mark Milligan, who are big fans of the pictures that I occasionally post on Twitter from the sunny hills of Tala - so this early-August tipping malarkey is something of a novelty to me.

But I will do my best.

Instead of the Shergar Cup, Ascot have delivered an eight-race card, seven of which are actually good-quality handicaps and four are on ITV, so there are no complaints here.

That said, I often find bets hard to pinpoint, so I have decided to do something different in these midweek ante-post pieces, and that is to provide a list of double-entered horses (and many have more than two entries) in each race the Sportsbook have priced up.

It is time-consuming but at the very least this will make you aware that horses you may be considering backing have other options this week, which is clearly very helpful.

Don't blame me if I miss the odd one, though!

Tinto appeals most but no bet at this stage

The first ITV race at Ascot on Saturday is the 6f handicap (1.50pm) and the following horses have more than one possible engagement this week.

They are Breath Of Air, Chil Chil, Deep Intrigue, Gulliver (a possible for the Curragh on Sunday at the time of writing), Hamish Macbeth, Love Powerful, No Nonsense, Theotherside, Troubador, Wedding Date, Well Done Fox and Will To Win.

So over half the field (12 of 22) could be going elsewhere even if they run this weekend, which makes the handicap very interesting from a betting point of view.

The one that interests me is Tinto, on whom Jim Crowley is already jocked up.

Over time, I have learned, to my cost, not to read too much into this - not least because the jockeys (and trainers) apparently don't know they have been put up by their agents half the time - but it clearly isn't a bad sign (even if Crowley has been mass-booked throughout the weekend) and Tinto looks on the big side at an industry-best 16/1.

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He has already run two stormers this season - when beating Summerghand, who has obviously flourished since, at Newmarket over 6f in June and finishing third in a Group 3 at Sandown - and I think he could be primed to run another here.

He clearly hasn't been at his best since Sandown, blowing out completely in the Group 3 Hackwood Stakes at Newbury - but I thought he shaped well enough when not beaten far when 11th in the Stewards' Cup on Saturday.

He was always playing catch up after rearing slightly after leaving the stalls at Goodwood, and he was weaving in and out in behind thereafter, before finally knuckling down a bit late on to be beaten under 5 lengths.

The quick turnaround (if it happens) doesn't bother me at all.

Indeed, he thrives on his racing. He won at Brighton after just seven days break in 2018 (and after just 10 days at Kempton later that year) and throughout his career he has run really well when backed up quickly (he was only beaten a neck after a six-day absence at Newmarket last August).

The handicapper has dropped him 1lb to 104 after the Goodwood run - he probably ran to a much higher mark at Sandown three starts ago - and this ground-versatile 4yo also has a course win to his name here in October (and he also ran okay down the centre in the Wokingham in June).

That track win came on soft but he clearly handles fast ground equally as well, so I was very tempted to put him up to small stakes, win-only, at 16/1 in a race that clearly has the potential to cut up.

But there are negatives. He is apparently only a little horse so humping top (or near to top, if Gulliiver runs) weight of 10st is not ideal, I am not sure if he is an intended runner - I tried to find out, but to no avail - and the form of the yard could be better.

So I passed.

It won't be by chance if Serendipity is backed

Here is the double-entered list for the 1m handicap at 2.25pm: Bear Force One, Cardsharp, Dubai Blue, Game Player, Gold Town, Hateya, Jalaad, Red Bond, Royal Marine (he has five weekend entries), Salayel, Shelir, and Silent Attack.

So the top four in the betting could conceivably be heading away from Ascot this Saturday.

Shelir would have been first up on my list at 10/1 after a series of good recent handicap efforts (for which he has come down 5lb) but the fact he is also entered in a 1m handicap at Haydock obviously deters an ante-post investment.

Via Serependity is another obvious angle on his first start for the amiable young gun Charlie Fellowes (his new recruit ranges from 16/1 to 25/1 in the marketplace) as he has plummeted to a mark of just 83 (he is rated 102 on all-weather) on turf in a very short of space of time, and he has actually not been running that badly for an out-of-form Stuart Williams this season.

Given he has run several good races at Ascot, and actually won at the Shergar Cup in 2018, it wouldn't surprise me if he were one that attracted a fair bit of money early this week.

Eye-catcher Tinandali has a chance if showing up

The "list" for the 2m handicap at 3pm is Diocletian, Hochfeld, Htoliminio, Busy Street and Gold Arch, with the last two entered at the overnight stage at Ripon on Thursday, so I would definitely hold fire on that pair.

Sleeping Lion looks set to get his favoured fast ground and he has run excellent races on both his starts here, so he has a clear chance after his Newcastle second last time. But 6/1 is no giveaway at this stage.

The other ITV race at Ascot is the 18-runner handicap (3.35pm) and these are the ones to be wary of are Caradoc, Diocletian, Sky Defender and Tinandali.

I am not a fan of these growing band of "eye-catcher" columns out there at all - they are easy, pretty lazy filling copy on the whole (with one or two exceptions) and of questionable value, given you never know what challenges, opposition and conditions (and their price) lie ahead for them - but I imagine Tinandali featured on a few after his Goodwood fifth last week.

He does looks well handicapped off 102, and may well fall in, in a decent race off that mark this season at some point, but connections have also stuck him in the Group 3 Rose Of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock on Saturday, so it is doubtful if you should be backing him here, even if 8/1 will probably be a distant memory if he rocks up at Ascot.

Zaaki looks the best but double entry is discouraging

Global Giant is the 7/4 favourite for the aforementioned Rose Of Lancaster (2.40pm) and the double-entered horses here are: Caradoc, Dark Vision, Sky Defender, Tinandali and Zaaki. And Roberto Escobarr is still in the Prix Hocquart at Deauville on Saturday.

It was very disappointing to see Zaaki also in at Salisbury on Sunday as he would have been a bet and a half at 6/1 with the Sportsbook after his sixth to Mohaather at Ascot - that form is working out so well - and is the clear form choice to me, even ahead of the jolly.

But I suppose he wouldn't have been anywhere near 6s with just the Haydock option, so that is a stupid comment.

He could just as easily go for the Salisbury Group 3 a day later, I guess, or wherever the ground is quickest (Ryan Moore is currently jocked up at Haydock, by the way, but plans change).

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The fillies' and mares 1m Listed race at Haydock (2.05pm) sees just the following with more than one weekend entry - Anna Nerium, Dreamloper and Foxtrot Lady - so this 17-runner field could really stand up at the overnight stage.

For that reason, there doesn't look to be much juice in the market. And it could be a very hot Listed race indeed, with some Group 1 winners, and performers, in here, with 2019 Falmouth winner Veracious currently heading the market at 2/1.

The only other ITV race on Saturday is the Group 3 Sweet Solera at Newmarket (3.20pm) and the horses with alternative weekend options are Oodnadatta (don't back this 4/1 chance because she is entered at the overnight stage in the Group 3 at Leopardstown on Thursday) and Thank You Next.

So crack on there if you will. Impressive Newbury winner Fly Miss Helen heads the Betfair market at 6/4.

Tinto was the closest I came to a bet at 16-1 in the sprint handicap, but I don't see him as a big shortener, even if there are a lot of defections, and there are negatives, as I said.

I hope you found the double-entered lists worthwhile though. And I will try and continue with those. The only problem is they help the layers, too!


Tony Calvin,

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