Saturday Racing Tips: Tony Calvin says Aso is set to outrun his odds in Paddy Power

Betfair Tipster Tony Calvin
Tony Calvin has a trio of tips for Saturday's ITV Racing action

The Paddy Power Gold Cup is the feature race at Cheltenham on Saturday, and Tony Calvin has a big-price selection to consider among his three bets on the afternoon...

"Most of it has come on the New Course but that does not bother me, and I reckon he is set to massively outrun his odds in ideal conditions. I think 2m4f on basically good ground, around here, are his optimum."

Back Aso at 60.059/1 or bigger in 14:15 at Cheltenham

It's so good to witness a four-runner novices' chase, featuring an odds-on poke, kicking off ITV proceedings and that is what we have in the 13:40.

Non-runners, permitting.

We all had our fun with the unfortunate match on Friday, so let's park the sarcasm for now - especially as no-one has the solution, outside of pulling the races - and see if Third Time Lucki can enhance the glowing references he received from many after winning on his chasing debut here last month.

Outsider chanced in hugely competitive Paddy Power

The Paddy Power Gold Cup at 14:15 has certainly delivered though, with a full field of 20, and what a deep, hugely competitive handicap it is.

As I mentioned in my ante-post piece on Monday, the claims of the market leaders, Protektorat and Lalor, are as self-evident as a maskless idiot in a hospital.

Protektorat looks well handicapped off 154 on the evidence of his Grade 1 Aintree defeat of The Shunter, and Paul Nicholls only has to coax Lalor back to his best for his former trainer for him to be a huge player here. And you have to fancy Nicholls OBE will have improved him too, for all we are dealing with a horse who has had a fair few issues in recent years.

The problem with this race is that the layers now have all the obvious bases covered from a price perspective, though they are predictably bigger win-only on the exchange. The likes of Al Dancer and Midnight Shadow are others with attractive marks and a shedload of course form, but the odds just aren't there for me.

Galahad Quest's price has been chipped away at too ever since his rather fetching third at Wetherby on his return - the handicapper did well to leave him on the same mark after that, as a shot across the bows would have been warranted on a couple of levels - and that left me with a short-list of three at bigger prices, consisting of Aso, Nietzsche and Spiritofthegames.

I am going with the first-named, win-only, at 60.059/1 or bigger on the exchange. He was actually trading at 80.079/1 when this column went live but 50/1+ will do for me as a guide win-only price, and I expect to easily get that come Saturday afternoon given his profile of the oldest horse in the race at 11yo, and a winless one since New Year's Day on 2019.

Now, I appreciate he doesn't have the handicap upside of the first three in the market - and I should also mention Zanza is 4lb well-in here after his Haldon Gold Cup third - but what he does have going for him is the price, and a Cheltenham back-story that makes him a definite maybe off 153 here.

Basically, this horse has been messed around trip-wise far too often, as what he glaringly wants is 2m4f on decent ground and not a test of stamina over 3m and beyond.

Those were the sorts of trips he was asked to go over - they even ran him in the Gold Cup last season, for god's sake, and followed him up in the Betway Bowl - on his last three starts, but the upside of that is he has come down 5lb in the weights.

It probably isn't ideal that he comes here without a run, as he did when seventh in this race last year on soft ground - though he does have a fair record off a long break - but he is now 2lb lower than when just touched off by Two For Gold at Warwick in February and he has more Cheltenham form than you can shake a stick at, most obviously his Ryanair second to Frodon in 2019.

Most of it has come on the New Course but that does not bother me, and I reckon he is set to massively outrun his odds in ideal conditions. I think 2m4f on basically good ground, around here, are his optimum.

A rare shortie

When I was doing the Weighed In weekend review after the Charlie Hall meeting, I said that I would be very interested in Proschema for a 2m4f handicap, as I don't think he found as much, late doors, as Harry Skelton was expecting after breezing through most of the 3m race there.

Looking back at the race again, I just about stand by that assessment - I think he will be suited by a strongly-run sub-3m test - but he clearly lasted home (staying is relative, after all), and the handicapper has probably been lenient in only raising him 3lb for the excellent second to a tenacious rival in Indefatigable in that Grade 2 bet365 Hurdle.

And this does not look a strong handicap at all, to my eyes. He could easily outclass these, with the Grade 1-winning chaser Sporting John hard to assess on his return.

The question, as ever for me, is whether he is a backable price at just over 11/4 on the exchange in the 14:50.

I am probably going to surprise you, and myself, by saying yes - I reasoned that I wouldn't want to lay him at 5/2, so I am happy to back him at 11/4 - I would side with the course winner at 3.7511/4 or bigger. A rare shortie for me (he was 3.9 when this column went live).

Henderson outsider worth backing for a few Bob

Normal service is resumed though, as I am going with the outsider of the party in the 2m5f handicap hurdle at 15:25, in the shape of Small Bad Bob at 26.025/1 or bigger. He is a win-only, small-stakes, selection because he is unproven over the trip. He is also 25/1 with the Sportsbook if you want to back him here.

I think he could prove to be the sole pace angle in here - I hope so anyway - and I was surprised that Mitchell Bastyan didn't send him to the front in a 2m handicap here last month, as all his best form has come when forcing it.

He did just that when winning by 5 lengths at Fontwell over an extended 2m1f two starts ago and, while bossing a five-runner field there will have been a lot easier than it will be here, I hope those tactics are resumed here. Tom O'Brien, on at Fontwell, is back on board.

That run here last time did actually hint this longer trip is worth trying. This former pointer was strong at the line at Fontwell (and he had won over an extended 2m2f in the soft at Newton Abbot beforehand, albeit at 1/5 in another small field) and he did appear to get tapped for toe from 2 out here last time after travelling kindly for the early part of the race.

He could be a non-runner if connections consider the ground too quick, but at least good going will put the emphasis less on stamina for him.

Two good races but no bets for me at Lingfield

ITV are also showing two decent races from Lingfield. I appreciate a lot of punters will probably just ignore them now the jumps season is in full swing, but I had a fair look all the same.

The big news story in the 6f Listed race at 15:05 is the return of The Last Lion, fresh from his Middle Park win in September 2016.

Make of that what you will - and he'd win this if in the same form as he was when winning that Group 1 five years ago - but he is impossible to gauge accurately price-wise and clearly the last two winners of this race, Good Effort and Judicial, are sounder propositions.

That said, they both have wide draws - particularly problematic for the forward-going Good Effort, in addition to four possible pace rivals - and the further issues for them in a tight-knit race is that Judicial carries a 3lb penalty and Good Effort is coming here off the back of a blow-out trip to Belmont last month, and is short enough at 7/2 as a result.


Lingfield all-weather 3 1280 .jpg

Coronation Cup winner Pyledriver is the obvious one to beat in the 1m2f Listed race at 15:40, but I imagine the layers will be queuing up to get him in the book.

He has a 7lb penalty for that weak Group 1 win, he has had his problems since that success in early June, this is his Lingfield debut and there are at least four in here that can give him a run for his money, anyway.

Of course, it is easy to see him drifting to a backable price in the circumstances - the first firm up made him a 5/4 chance, which was only going to go one way, and very quickly at that, with 7/4 his current odds - but, here and now, he can't be viewed as a solid betting proposition, for all his undoubted class.

Last year's impressive winner Dubai Warrior would probably be the form choice here at these weights if able to reproduce that performance, but he hardly made an auspicious debut for the excellent David Loughnane at Dundalk in September and this race is too full of unknowns and questionable talents - who shouted Fox Tal from the back of the room? - to have a strong betting opinion.

Or for me to have one anyway, so just the jumpers on a low-key betting Saturday. Good luck.

PROFIT AND LOSS (FROM APRIL 14 – doesn’t include Friday’s results)

Staked: 161pts
Returns: 333.96pts
P/L: +172.96

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