You could make a Coole fortune if one of Tony Calvin's bets at Sandown comes in on Saturday afternoon. Here our man explains his thinking and makes the case for one at Musselburgh too...
"Coole Cody has been given a break since 21 December. That is seen as a big positive, as you can argue that his two best career efforts have come after a similar absence."
My conservatism when it came to ante-post bets this weekend has paid dividends as the pair who interested me in Sandown's 2m7f98yd handicap hurdle at 15:00, Coeur De Lion and Star Of Lanka, were both no-shows at the overnight stage.
Luckily, I avoided putting either up on Tuesday - one had an alternative engagement on the Flat, which he has taken up, and the other was a stamina doubt in worsening ground - so I actually feel like I go in Saturday's racing ahead on the punting front.
Hopefully, I still am at the end of the day.
Coole Cody is a chance worth taking
There is no surprise to see the top of the market dominated by the younger brigade with scope for plenty of improvement - the likes of Ask Ben and Ask Dillon (who carries a lot of stable confidence it would seem), Bold Plan and Big Shark - and you couldn't really take issue with that assessment.
But those are the types that the layers are always going to price up pretty defensively, and I am going to take a chance on Coole Cody at 34.033/1 or bigger.
The Betfair Sportsbook initially went 40/1, five places, but unfortunately that bit the dust early on Friday. Look out in case it reappears, though!
Coole Cody will finish last if he runs like he did at Haydock last time but I can forgive any horse a below-par run in heavy ground around there, and he has been given a break since that disappointment towards the end of December (the 21st in fact).
That is seen as a big positive, as you can argue that his two best career efforts have come after a similar absence.
Having been dropped 2lb for that Haydock run, he is now 5lb lower than when making all by three lengths at Cheltenham in 2017 and he is off a 6lb lower mark than when second to Lord Napier in this race last season under Saturday's jockey Nick Scholfield.
And he clearly bumped into a very well-handicapped winner that day, with a next-time-out scorer (off a 1lb higher mark) Flemcara behind him in third to further the boost the merit of the form.
He likes to go from the front, so the presence of at least three other probable pace rivals - Ask Ben, Go Whatever and West To The Bridge - in here is not ideal, but the fitting of first-time cheek pieces is another interesting angle into his chances.
He has raced successfully in a hood before - indeed his record in one reads 22F1211P4P6, and he chased home Neon Wolf on the first occasion - so perhaps the re-fitting of new headgear (he has raced without a hood in his last six starts) could just sweeten him up.
And Michael Blake is an encouraging one from four with this headgear option since 2016, and that 11-1 winner, Barney From Tyanee, obliged after being tailed off in his previous start.
If the pieces do the trick, then we have a well-handicapped horse, whose best form has come in soft and heavy ground, and who has that good effort here last season to his name. And his gutsy third at Uttoxeter in November wasn't a million miles off his best either.
Of course, there are negatives - not least the fact his small stable haven't had a winner since last July - but the chance looks worth taking at 33/1+ on the exchange.
Ante-post picks hold good
I have already recommended Le Rocher and Diable De Sivola at 16/1 each, four places, in my ante-post column for the 3m handicap chase at 15:35 and I am obviously delighted that both have made the final declarations.
I feel no need to put either up again in this column, but I clearly wouldn't put you off, and they are still fair wagers at their current prices.
And the first-time visor for Diable De Sivola will hopefully bring out some improvement in him, too (Gary Moore is 13 from 116 with this option since 2007).
As stated in that piece on Tuesday, there are stamina doubts about both, but the positives certainly outweighed the negatives at 16/1, and it was pleasing to see the race reduced to just 12 runners at the overnight stage.
I am a bit annoyed to see Deise Aba in here, as he was very much on my shortlist when I looked at the race on Tuesday, but he had two midweek entries. I fear him most of the remainder.
As is often the case these days, the classier the race the fewer the runners, and the lesser the betting appeal. That is particularly true of the Contenders Hurdle at 13:50 - I would expect Call Me Lord to win but he clearly isn't a backable price - and The Grade 1 Scilly Isle Novices' Chase at 14:25 is undoubtedly a fascinating race but it has no each-way shape to it with just seven runners.
I'll pass on both, though it would be good to see Laurina back on track after bleeding last time, and the step up to 2m4f is obviously very much in her favour. She is short enough, though.
Putting a few Bob on the Edinburgh National
There are a couple of good ITV races at Musselburgh - although the Scottish Champion Chase is not one of those - and they are the Scottish County Hurdle at 14:05 and the small matter of the 4m Edinburgh National at 15:15.
Sir Chauvelin and Ashington would be my two against the field in the former, with Sir Chauvelin the pick of the pair at current prices, but my only bet on the card is Bob Mahler at 8.415/2 or bigger.
His stamina is obviously a fair old question mark in this four-miler as he has never gone beyond 3m1f56yd before and I am touch concerned about the form of the yard, and if the ground rides too soft if they get more rain.
You would have thought with that level of negativity that I should be walking away from a bet, but the ground is currently good to soft (which would be fine, and he does have some form on soft anyway), the yard have had a couple run a lot better in recent days, and I think this extreme test could suit him.
He beat Little Bruce by seven lengths in that 3m1f+ contest at Cheltenham last April and he is just 3lb higher now, and it isn't as if he has come down the weights for some dire efforts this season. He has been running okay.
Looking back to that Cheltenham win, he really went into overdrive at the last when winning and looked like very much a horse who would relish this further step up in trip.
Let's hope he does, anyway. Wetherby's Grade 2 novices' chase at 14:45 is also on the box but it looks a pretty unappetising betting heat. Six runner races don't tend to cut it for me.
Sensational Saturday at Dublin Racing Festival
I will probably be draining a large gin and tonic before boarding while you are reading this at around 4:30pm, as I fly to Ireland late on Friday afternoon to take in the Dublin Racing Festival, and doubtless a few pubs and restaurants - and unfortunately probably a casino or two - besides.
And what a two-day meeting is in store.
The Saturday card is sensational and hopefully Sharjah and Bapaume will run well and keep my Cheltenham ante-posts dreams alive, though I am not sure the course should have been watering as much as they appear to have been, and that will not aid the chances of the former in the Irish Champion Hurdle.
I did have a look at the whole card from a punting point of view, but nothing leapt out at me in the Grade 1s or the handicaps, although Betfair Sportsbook are offering six places in the Ladbrokes Hurdle at 15:45 and Buildmeupbuttercup looks a decent price at 10/1 each way with that concession.
But I will just stick to the UK, I think.
Have a good one.
Tony Calvin P/L
April 14 2017 to Jan 31 2020 inclusive (all recommended Exchange bets are settled at Betfair SP)
Coole Cody at 34.033/1 or bigger in 15:00 at Sandown
Bob Mahler at 8.415/2 or bigger in 15:15 at Musselburgh
ALREADY RECOMMENDED ANTE-POST
Diable De Sivola at 16/1 each way, four places, in 15:35 at Sandown
Le Rocher at 16/1 each way, four places, in 15:35 at Sandown