Saturday Racing Tips: A quartet of bets for Betfair Chase day at Haydock

Haydock racecourse on Betfair Chase day
TC is backing four at Haydock on Saturday

It's Betfair Chase day at Haydock and, while Tony Calvin is impressed by the quality of the big race, his bets can be found elsewhere on the card...

On Perfect Candidate in the 3m4f handicap chase at 15:40:

"He clearly doesn’t have the potential of some of his younger rivals here but what he does have is an attractive, falling handicap mark after running two perfectly good races this season, having been dropped for 5lb for them..."

Whenever you put a horse up ante-post it is always a relief when they get to the race, and occasionally the connections of said beast will get in touch to comment on your analysis of said horse.

No bother for Flash The Steel?

That is what happened on Twitter this week after I tipped Flash The Steel at 16/1 for Haydock's Betfair Best Odds On ITV Races Stayers' Handicap Hurdle at 14:25 - I better use the full title, for obvious reasons - on Tuesday morning.

The obvious concern about Flash The Steel - apart from 16 opponents in a hugely competitive Haydock handicap hurdle - is him stepping up from 2m3f to an extended 3m here. But the owner came on and said: "Our lad won his point over 3m. Trip not a bother."

In itself, that is encouraging as it suggests that the trainer has relayed some positivity about the horse lasting home, but I don't take a point-to-point victory as convincing evidence that a horse will stay 3m in a far more competitive environment, for all it is clearly no negative.

And, trust me, this is about as deep a handicap hurdle as you are going to get outside of a Festival. I know it is a 100k race, but I was expecting it to cut up a little more than it has, and you can run well here and still only finish seventh or eighth.

Let's hope that isn't the case for your fancy, as the Betfair Sportsbook are now paying six places.

Another leap forward?

The original case for Flash The Steel holds, and I have little hesitation in putting him up as a fresh bet at 12/1, six places, each way. And I will recap what I said earlier in the week.

He has really found his stride since a tongue-tie was applied prior to his Doncaster win last December and he progressed accordingly despite 2m looking an inadequate test of stamina.

I wouldn't quite say he was a revelation when winning on his return when stepped up to 2m3f100yd in the soft at Chepstow on his return, but he tanked through the race off a very fast pace and won decisively from two subsequent winners, albeit they won over fences.

And the form looks even stronger when you clock that the fifth ran Lady Buttons close in a Listed race at Wetherby next time, and the seventh ran well enough when second on his chasing debut on his following outing.

And what was really encouraging was the way the selection finished off his race after making a clumsy mistake at the last, picking up again in the final 100 yards.

An 8lb rise could prove problematical given the depth of this race, but in isolation that hike was fair, and I hope this extra 5f or so could see him take another big leap forward.

His sire gets plenty of winners over this trip, his dam is fairly stamina-laden, and his full brother won over 3m1f in Ireland.

Going into Friday's racing, Dan Skelton was operating at a 28% strike-rate in the last fortnight (he has just had another winner at Catterick as I write), and jockey Bridget Andrews had won on four of her last eight rides, so I expect Flash The Steel to be bang there if staying.

If you are looking for a saver, then you are not short on alternatives.

I like Acey Milan best of the rest, and Tedham and Lisnagar Oscar are bigger runners at shorter prices - Tedham, the main Friday afternoon mover, didn't miss many eyes on his Cheltenham comeback, and the stable are creeping back into winning form, too - but I am just going with the one selection here, as I could easily go on and on about plenty of other serious dangers.

That six-place angle could prove very handy here.

Betfair Chase is high on quality

There is the small matter of the Betfair Chase next up at 15:00 in which the hat-trick seeking Bristol De Mai takes on the up-and-comer Lostintranslation, with Ryanair winner Frodon and the Charlie Hall scorer Ballyoptic thrown in for good measure.

Let's be honest about this, it is never a good look for big races to attract so few runners - and the Ascot head-to-head is even worse on the numbers front - but the quality is certainly not lacking, and it is not as if you have to have a bet on every race you watch.

The ground is currently good to soft at Haydock, with more rain due on Friday into Saturday, so I don't think you would go wrong if working on the basis of borderline soft conditions, which should be fine for all.

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I would lean towards the Gold Cup third Bristol De Mai (pictured above) at odds-against at his beloved Haydock but, as with the Altior v Cyrname clash at Ascot, is there that much to disagree with how the layers have priced this one up?

The answer is no. So watch and enjoy, peeps, especially as the other two ITV races at the track are cracking little handicaps.

Two against the field in the 13:50

First up is the 2m2f191yd handicap hurdle at 13:50 and I am going to take two against the field here, win-only (the Sportsbook are paying an extra place, by the way).

You have to forgive Bold Plan a seemingly modest run at Chepstow last time - actually, it wasn't seemingly, it was modest - but I looked at the video a couple of times and he ran a lot better than his in-running comment would have you believe (I tend not to rely on the accuracy of these nowadays), as he travelled okay until he hit a wall entering the straight and being allowed to coast home thereafter.

He could have just needed it or simply didn't enjoy Chepstow - plenty don't - but this £195,000 February 2018 purchase has been dropped 2lb for the run and he looks handicapped to play a leading role on his second in a big field at Uttoxeter in March.

Owners, the Ruckers, are having something of a golden spell with their horses this month (5 from 14) and they could be fighting over who receives their latest trophy on the TV. He rates a small bet at 10.09/1 or bigger.

Forget the Ruckers though, my old mucker Man Of Plenty is also in here and he is getting some of my cash at 21.020/1 or bigger.

His 7lb claimer Liam Harrison is four from 24 this season (with nine of his other 20 rides hitting the first four, with five seconds) and I thought Man Of Plenty shaped okay from well off the pace over 2m at Ascot last time, sticking on gamely enough up the straight.

He was beaten 16 lengths but he has been dropped 2lb for it, and I suspect he wants this longer trip these days, especially if the ground isn't too bad. That said, his Welsh Champion Hurdle sixth from 5lb out of the handicap last month, form that is working out well, was a very good effort.

He is certainly weighted to make his presence felt if on a going day, and he did finish second in this race in this race two years ago too, to a horse who followed up next time off an 8lb higher mark.

Perfect end to a winning afternoon?

I am also going to chuck a few quid, win-only on the exchange at 11.010/1 or bigger on old boy Perfect Candidate in the 3m4f handicap chase at 15:40.

He clearly doesn't have the potential of some of his younger rivals here but what he does have is an attractive, falling handicap mark after running two perfectly good races this season, having been dropped for 5lb for them.

We know he is a dour stayer, won't mind any softening of the ground and he is now 23lb lower than when winning over an extended 3m3f in the soft at Cheltenham in November 2017.

If the years have not taken their toll - and his third at Cheltenham on New Year's Day would give him an excellent chance, too, so we aren't talking the dim and distant past here - then he is weighted to give these a run for their money.

Meanwhile, at Ascot...

I can deal with the Altior v Cyrname clash in Ascot's 14:05 pretty quickly.

I don't have any issues at all with exchange prices in the range of 8/11 Altior and 11/8 Cyrname. Let's hope they both their run their races and the match-up lives up to its billing, but I won't be betting on it. That is also true of the six-runner 2m3f Grade 2 hurdle at 14:40.

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As ever, I am a sucker for a handicap, so let's get to the 15:20 without further ado. Actually, having looked at the race and the odds, I won't be putting up a bet here either as I was very much taken with The Last Day's Aintree win last time and an 11lb rise may not stop him.

But this is a deeper race and he is no great punting medium at around 7/2, and the horse that I fancied against him, Knocknanuss, is a fair bit shorter than I was expecting at the 9/2 mark, especially as he missed the BetVictor last week as apparently his blood wasn't quite right and he has never run on a right-handed track (presumably for a reason).

On the plus side, he did shape very well on his Cheltenham return, the first-time blinkers may help him (especially as if does have a marked left-handed bias) and he has reportedly has been in great nick at home this week. However, if the price isn't right, you have to walk away, and we have enough running for us at Haydock.

Best of luck with your Saturday punting.

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