York Ebor Festival Day 4 Tips: Tony Calvin's putting his weight behind Pondus in Ebor

York race finish
Tony has a quartet of bets for Saturday's racing at York and Sandown

We have some very competitive racing from York and Sandown on ITV Racing on Saturday, and our resident tipster Tony Calvin has four bets for you to consider...

"With just 11 runs under his belt, and actually dropped 1lb for that Leopardstown run last time, I think Pondus has a huge chance if fully seeing out the trip..."

Pondus at 9/1 each-way, six places, with the Betfair Sportsbook in 15:40 at York

The early 16/1 and 14/1 in the marketplace may have disappeared on Thursday afternoon - and the 12s and 10s went on Friday - but Pondus remains a betting proposition at 9/1 each-way, six places, with the Betfair Sportsbook in York's Ebor at 15:40.

He mixed it in good company when trained by James Fanshawe last season, proving himself a ground-versatile and classy operator at up to 1m3f in Listed and Group 3 races.

He was bought by big Australian owner Lloyd Williams in the spring and sent to Joseph O'Brien - O'Brien trained the 2017 Melbourne Cup winner for him, and I imagine this horse could find himself in Oz sooner or later, too - and it looks as if he has been trained with this race in mind.

Hopefully, he has anyway.

Huge chance if seeing out the trip

You would struggle to say that he has improved in his three starts for his new trainer, but what he has done has strongly hinted that this 1m6f trip will bring about improvement in him (though I admit one of the jockeys that rode him last year isn't totally sold he will see out the 1m6f but, against that, the trainer has had staying trips in mind for him ever since he joined the yard).

He needed all of the 1m4f trip to win a Listed at Roscommon on Heavy ground last month but still won dominantly in the end - he was a 6/4 chance but traded at 100.099/1 in running - and the runner-up has since gone on to win a decent race at Galway.

And back up to Group 3 company at Leopardstown last time, things could not have worked out much worse for him in finishing fourth of five when a short-priced favourite.

York head on 1280.jpg

He was three wide all the way there and the slowly-run race didn't look to suit him at all, but he stayed on well enough over the 1m4f trip, especially as Shane Cross never went for him at all in the closing stages.

The form is decent too, with the progressive winner Nickajack Cave also being bought by Australian owners to be targeted at the Melbourne Cup.

I think we will see a different proposition here in all respects from Pondus, now he steps up to 1m6f in what you would assume is a strongly-run race, as his run-style suggests as much. And his pedigree gives you plenty of hope too, as his sire Sea The Moon gets plenty of stayers and Pondus is a half-brother to a 1m5f winner.

With just 11 runs under his belt, and actually dropped 1lb for that Leopardstown run last time, I think Pondus has a huge chance if fully seeing out the trip, and it would not surprise me were he to be the punt of the race and went off favourite. Mind you, that is not saying much now he has been backed from 16s to 9s in the last 24 hours!

It is clearly a hugely competitive race though, and the temptation is to go in at least two-handed.

In-running lay advised if you follow me in on Mullins raider

The case for the market leaders is obvious, while I can see outsiders King's Advice and Alright Sunshine outrunning their odds, but my saver is True Self, and not least because she represents a trading opportunity.

Back her at 13.012/1 or bigger, and stick in an in-running Keep Bet lay at around 2/1, I will be doing so at 3.052/1 myself.

I actually backed her at a big price in this race last year and I was counting my money as she cruised into the race, trading at 1.558/15 in the run when taking it up 2f out.

But my smile became a frown pretty quickly as she immediately came under pressure and wilted, although she still was beaten just over 3 lengths into sixth.

You'd be a hard man to say she didn't stay there - and she is a dual 1m6f winner who won a valuable 1m5f handicap in Australia (that country is quite the theme today) last November - but it is true to say she didn't close the race out as strongly as looked likely 2f out.

She is actually 2lb lower here after two Group race runs this season and, like many of these, I imagine this race has been her early-year target for a while.

They had a sighter with her in a first-time hood last time, and they put a tongue-tie on her now too. Expect Jason Watson to deliver her later this year, and the in-running lay insurance looks wise to me.

Bodyline can deliver a body blow to layers in Melrose

There are nine ITV races from York and Sandown on Saturday but, to stop me writing bundles and getting told off by the sub, I am only going to concentrate on the contests in which I can find a bet.

Pogo and Epic Hero would be my two against the field in the York opener, but the Melrose at 14:25 is the next betting heat.

I have no doubt that 1m4f Royal Ascot runner-up Kipps is weighted to win this race after being dropped a generous 3lb for a Newmarket fourth over 1m2f last time where he was not suited to racing widest on the track (and maybe he resented the blinkers there, too, as they are left off now), but he does not strike me as a stayer of this 1m5f188yd trip at all.

If I am wrong and he does see it out, then I suspect this 7/1 chance may well win.

But I am going to back a horse who finished 3 lengths behind him at Ascot in the shape of Bodyline at 10.09/1 or bigger. The stand-out 14/1 in a place on Friday morning was never going to last.

He went into a lot of those flawed eye-catcher columns when, err, an eye-catching sixth from well off the pace in that 1m4f handicap, but I hope the journos didn't follow it up with hard cash themselves as he was beaten at odds-on at Newmarket just nine days later.

Maybe the race came too soon, but a subsequent gelding operation suggests the Baronet suspected a physical or temperament problem there, and he did look an awkward proposition that day. And he didn't entirely straightforward when weaving across the track late on at Ascot.

If the gelding has sorted him out, then this son of Australia (and that sire is s real stamina influence) is a big potential improver, and he rates a bet at around 9s.

A few fancies but no more bets at York

Given that everyone saw how well he shaped over 1m in the Sussex Stakes last time - he made a menacing, sweeping move 3f out, only to falter just over a furlong later - I am bit surprised to see San Donato available to back at 5/1 and bigger on the exchange in the 7f City Of York Stakes. He is of obvious interest under more a more patient ride here.

But it is a very competitive Group 2, with just 4lb separating eight of the nine runners on official figures, and I can leave the race alone.

Acklam Express at 5/1+ on the exchange would be my token choice in the 5f Roses Stakes which closes ITV's York coverage - he looked very good at Goodwood last time, albeit that nursery win came off a mark of a mere 77 - but I am happy with just my three bets on the Knavesmire.

Not difficult to see Enigmatic go in again

There are also four ITV races at Sandown though and Enigmatic looks another punt at 7/1 each-way, five places, with the Betfair Sportsbook in the 14:40.

Trainer Joseph Parr has already made a big impression in his first season and, going into Friday's racing, he was 5 from 17, with another four placed.

Enigmatic was one of those winners at Leicester earlier in the month, and a 5lb rise may not stop him following up here as he won really nicely there from off the pace, despite looking a tricky ride. So it isn't the greatest of surprises that he wears first-time cheekpieces here (incidentally, the stable's Clem A won in an initial hood at Bath).

Enigmatic is now on a mark of 82, but he was rated 90 after winning a 20-runner 1m handicap at Ascot last May, so he is still weighted to win.

And this race appears to have been the plan for the horse ever since he won at Leicester. In a Racing Post interview on August 12, he nominated this very race, which shows good foresight and knowledge of the programme book.

There were one or two others that interested me at Sandown, but none came close to being a bet.

Good luck all.

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