Thursday ITV Racing Tips: A Magic bit of value for the Dante

York racecourse action
All eyes on the Knavesmire for a key Derby trial
Join today View market

Tony Calvin is back in the tipster's chair for the second day of the Dante meeting and he will be backing a trio of value plays on the card...

"Poyle Vinnie has a massive chance at the weights but, while that Thirsk run came on quick ground, ideally he would want a bit more give. Maybe York will get their watering can out tonight, though, if they don’t get any rain."

Merlin Magic may surprise Dante field

Outside of hot favourite Saxon Warrior, it is game on for the Derby and we could yet see another Epsom each-way contender after the Dante at 15:30.

The most obvious candidate is Roaring Lion, who is the clear form pick on his Racing Post Trophy second to the Derby favourite and his fifth in the Guineas, and the step up in trip looks well worth trying. Whether he will get 1m4f is another matter, given his pedigree.

He is not a guaranteed stayer here over 1m2f56yd by any means, though, and it is not hard to see one of his rivals improving past him.

The Epsom Derby trial that saw Crossed Baton win and James Cook run a promising race in fourth has been franked by the placed horses running well at Chester, and the unbeaten duo of Wells Farhh Go and Nordic Lights are just two more with the potential to shine.

I don't normally bet in races like these but I think Merlin Magic is worth an each-way nibble at 25/1 with the Betfair Sportsbook.

He finished well behind Roaring Lion at Doncaster last season but he put up a convincing performance to win the Esher Cup over a mile on his return.

Okay, that victory only came off a mark of 88 but he bolted up by three lengths in a good time, and the step up in trip should really suit this son of Camelot.

He is a half-brother to a whole host of winners over this trip, and a 1m4f scorer too - and they liked quick ground, too - and this stamina test could well see him take a big step forward. It will need to, mind you, but that is why we are getting 25/1.

The Sandown form was given a boost of sorts when the third, the 96-rated Kings Shield, was only beaten just over 3 lengths in the French 2,000 Guineas on Sunday.

Two to back in the opener

The Middleton Stakes at 14:55 looks a nasty little betting race to me, but I wouldn't argue with Coronet being favourite, even if the trip is on the sharp side for her.

My two against the field in the opening 5f handicap at 14:20 are Poyle Vinnie and Desert Law.

Poyle Vinnie has been luckless of late, and Ruth Carr evidently thinks first-time blinkers (granted, she is just one from 50 with this option since 2008) replacing cheekpieces could be the key to getting him into the winners' enclosure again.

He is due to go up 3lb for his Thirsk second last time, so he is well-in here, and he also races from a 16lb lower mark than when third in this race last season. He has a massive chance at the weights but, while that Thirsk run came on quick ground, ideally he would want a bit more give. Maybe York will get their watering can out tonight, though, if they don't get any rain.

Desert Law also has a third in this race on his dance card, in his case in 2015, and he is another who has come down the weights while running creditably of late, most recently at Epsom.

He is now just 2lb higher than when winning here last August, and fast ground suits him well.

I was just going to go with just the Paul Midgley-trained sprinter (the handler won this race in 2014) but, on balance, I am happy to have them both batting for me, so Poyle Vinnie and Desert Law are bets at [13.0] and [21.0] respectively.

With El Astronaute in two and Copper Knight in three, there is a chance that the race could develop away from them (my two are drawn 11 and 14), but I am happy to take this risk. And, anyway, Major Jumbo doesn't hang around and he is in 17, so hopefully there will be no pace bias.

And if there is, it better favour the higher-drawn numbers! Lower-drawn horses have dominated in this race in recent years though, before Duke Of Firenze's win from 11 last season.

Others of note on the live ITV races

Original Choice and Baraweez have a lot going for them in the 16:05 but they predictably haven't been missed in the market and it looks a tricky enough race, anyway.

Salisbury's 1m2f fillies' handicap at 14:40 is also on ITV4 and Last Enchantment probably interests me most.

She clocked a decent time when winning in the soft at Nottingham earlier this month and a 4lb rise is not punitive, but the longer trip and quicker ground are unknowns, and I can easily pass.

Join today View market

Discover the latest articles

Read past articles