It's the final day of Cheltenham's November meeting and Tony Calvin is only interested in the big race, the Greatwood Hurdle, where he has three going for him...
"The fact that he has been kept to the Flat in two starts since suggests Noel Meade thinks he has a well handicapped horse on his hands, and a second to a fair sort at Thurles and a 1m6f Navan win at 1/3 last month confirms the horse is in rude health."
The headlines on Friday morning told the story.
Only 47 runners on Cheltenham's six-race card on Sunday, with 20 of those in the Greatwood Hurdle - and we could get non-runners if the ground dries up appreciably - so you don't need me to tell you where I am going to start this tipping piece.
And end it, in fact.
I actually began my analysis of the race on Monday when I sided with Marie's Rock win-only on the exchange at 28/1, and she is current trading a few points under that, which remains very fair for those fresh to the party.
There are negatives around her in that she has a sketchy profile, brittle perhaps, and you get the suspicion her temperament and keenness could always be her undoing.
But she was tremendously impressive when winning at Taunton in December 2019, after which injury curtailed her campaign, and last season was a write-off, with just two underwhelming runs.
But, following a long break and a wind op, there was definite cause for optimism when she was given a kid-gloves return when third to two rivals rated 10lb higher than her (though she was getting 4lb from the winner) in a mares' hurdle at Wetherby last month.
She may find the white-heat of a big-field handicap too much for her, but I am convinced she is better than her current mark of 135 and a strongly-run 2m handicap could just suit her.
I won't press up my ante-post bet, but clearly I think she has a decent shout at 20/1+ win-only on the exchange.
Irish raider has very strong claims
I want to be at least two-handed in here though; in fact, I make no apologies for having three running for me, as I want both Jesse Evans and Ballyandy onside, too. Tipping three in a race may seem extravagant but as I am backing them, I am happy to tip them, too.
Jesse Evans has the more obvious chance of my fresh pair, but I think there is some juice in his price and I am going to back him at 15/2 each-way, six places, with the Betfair Sportsbook.
I think he will go off favourite, maybe around the 5/1 mark.
The UK handicapper has treated him quite kindly in "only" giving him an extra 3lb - it is not unknown for him to give the Irish a welcoming gift of at least double that - and Jesse Evans has a lot going for him.
He has plenty of experience of big-field handicaps, winning an 18-runner affair at Killarney in May, as well as finishing third of 24 at the Punchestown Festival before that and then coming home fourth of 20 in the Galway Hurdle in July.
And, considering he raced wide at Galway, you can probably mark that 2 ½ length fourth up a fair bit too.
The fact that he has been kept to the Flat in two starts since suggests Noel Meade thinks he has a well handicapped horse on his hands, and a second to a fair sort at Thurles and a 1m6f Navan win at 1/3 last month confirms the horse is in rude health.
The good ground is fine for him, and he holds very strong claims.
Rapidly-falling handicap mark tempted me in
The other horse I am putting up is Ballyandy at 32.031/1 or bigger on the exchange.
This is obviously something of a flier given the horse's recent form, as he has seemingly lost the plot since a third in the International in December 2020.
But his great Cheltenham record and a rapidly-falling handicap mark has tempted me in, even if he would probably prefer a bit more ease in the ground.
He didn't shine on his return in the Welsh Champion Hurdle on his reappearance but I just wonder whether that was a stepping stone for this - he didn't adopt the forward-going tactics that have served himself so well in the past there - and connections must have been thrilled to see him dropped 5lb for it.
He is now 8lb lower than when second to The Shunter (now rated 18lb higher over hurdles, and 25lb over fences) and I expect to see him ridden more prominently in a race which does not have a lot of pace in it.
He is worth risking at the price.
No further bets elsewhere
There are six other races on ITV but none has attracted more than nine runners and I'd be pushing it to find another bet.
We recently had Safer Gambling Week and my number one rule would be never to try to find a bet when one doesn't exist. There is always tomorrow.
I know plenty of people will disagree and see plenty of punting opportunities elsewhere - and I was tempted by Salty Boy at 4/1+ in the Southern National at Fontwell (15:10) - but I am happy with my three plays in the one race.
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ANTE-POST BET (from Monday)
Back Marie’s Rock at 28.027/1 win-only on exchange – 20/1 or bigger is fine – in Greatwood Hurdle at 2.55 at Cheltenham on Sunday.