ITV Races - Tony Calvin

Friday Racing Tips: Tony Calvin backs 14/1 shot to Star at Sandown

Betfair horse racing tipster Tony Calvin
TC is backing one at Perth and one at Sandown on Friday

Tony Calvin previews Friday afternoon's ITV racing at Sandown and Perth and recommends a bet for each card...

  • 14/115.00 Artistic Star is worth the risk at Sandown

  • 10/111.00 a peachy price for Bretney at Perth

  • Get the going news, pace maps and more from TC


Ryan Moore Superboost

Sandown offer a superb flat card at the Esher track, and today we are boosting Ryan Moore on board Juddmonte's Nostrum!

You can back Ryan Moore and Nostrum for a Nostrum To Finish In The Top 3 In The 15:00 Sandown at the Superboost price of 1/12.00! (was 1/31.33).

Nostrum To Finish In The Top 3 In The 15:00 Sandown

Bet here

Sandown's card looked as tough as it gets for my style of punting on first viewing, but you go through the usual processes - going, weather forecast, first-time headgear, pace maps, trainer form, maybe significant jockey bookings, and then wait for the all-important prices to appear - and see what comes out at the other end.

Often bets bark out at you from unexpected quarters. Bear with me on that one.

They rarely do in 3yo handicaps for me, especially this early in the turf season, and small-field Group races, but let's crack on with the five ITV Sandown Flat races in chronological order.

Sandown 13:15 - No bet

ITV actually added the opening 5f handicap 13:15 at Sandown on to their schedule earlier in the week (along with an extra race from Perth), bless their cotton socks. Last year's Nunthorpe winner, Live In The Dream, won this sprint off a mark of 84 in 2022 for that likeable snazzy-dresser husband and wife combo.

It is currently good ground on the straight course at Sandown, though 5mm of rain is due through Thursday - and us backers of good ground horses on Saturday will not be happy to see 14mm is now forecast through that day, though half is due after racing - but the going should remain decent for racing if just that amount lands.

It will certainly be better than it was last year when the meeting was lost due to false patches of ground due to downpours.

It is not as easy as it once was to call where you want to be on the sprint track at Sandown and the pace map doesn't give too many clues here, with seven of these at least prominent racers. But Hedge Fund has one way of going it seems and he looks the likely leader to me from trap two.

He has had a recent run too, having been swallowed up by subsequent Listed race winner Adaay In Devon close home on heavy ground at Bath earlier in the month. He makes the most appeal in here off the same mark.

He has form on this better ground, and the stable is going okay too, with two recent winners.

However, several of the opposition are unexposed - and, in the case of the ex-American Dark Vintage, exceptionally hard to call, too - so I am not in a mad rush to get involved at the Sportsbook's 11/26.50.

I would add that Karl Burke said in a recent interview that the 90-rated Sports Coach - a 4s from 5s chance here - "could be a Group horse in the making." Make of that what you will. That is the type of race you are dealing with here. And the fact that it is 9/25.50 the field underlines that.

Sandown 13:50 - No bet

We have the precarious dead-eight for each-way punters in the 1m Esher Handicap at 13:50, and this race is probably the realm of the gossip merchants and gallops watchers - and maybe even the paddock judges on the day, once those rugs come off - as the progression from two to three will be key here.

All eight are winners and are open to improvement given their profiles - none has raced more than five times - but, on what we currently know, Hand Of God stands out to me for a few reasons.

Okay, the layers have spotted them too and then some, as he is already into 2s from 3s with the Sportsbook - the booking of Betfair ambassador Ryan Moore (one from one for Harry Charlton, after Kikkuli last week) may be good for the horse's chance, but it also depresses the price - but I'll give you the reasons anyway.

One is that the Charlton stable is going well, and he could have a very well handicapped 3yo on his hands here, as you suspect the assessor could have given him a bit more than 88 for his Newmarket win on good to firm last autumn.

The two-and-a-half length runner-up (who Moore rode) is now rated 82; the third, 85; the fourth, 80; and the fifth has been winning in the States this season.

I could go on - the seventh is now rated 82 after winning at Lingfield earlier in the month - but you get the drift. It was a decent enough maiden, and he is quite a well-related colt, too.

I strongly suspect he is the one to beat but he is now priced accordingly in such a hot heat and, as stated above, any of these could prove very troublesome given winter progression or with proven race-fitness on their side.

However, I will say that Charlton seemed to be very keen on him in a recent interview on the ATR website.

Sandown 14:25 - Back Artistic Star

All seven stood their ground from the five-day stage in the 1m2f Group 3 Gordon Richards Stakes at 14:25 and it is tricky to call.

Artistic Star (not mentioned in a recent Ralph Beckett stable tour, something that I always like to see - or rather not to see) was a horse I liked last season and it could be that the time to catch him is fresh. The gelding operation since we last saw him could see him buck his ideas up, as his form tailed off on his last two starts.

He actually opened at 16s with the Betfair Sportsbook on Wednesday morning, which surprised me - I am sure he was a top-priced 8s on Tuesday morning in the ante-post market, so there must be some negative chat about him doing the rounds. He was trimmed into 14s on Wednesday afternoon.

Now even that 14s was exceptionally tempting, even if the Beckett horses are struggling to catch fire (and yes I am fully aware that Salt Bay and Zoum Zoum ran very well at Newbury) and seem to be needing it.

I could easily see him improving enough to win this prize, but he is 9lb shy of the now-blinkered Israr (see all first-time headgear stats below) and they could all have their work cut out to deal with Okeechobee.

He clearly had his issues after winning three from four a couple of years ago (Moore rode him twice, and he gets back on board here) and he shaped particularly well when second behind a class act at Kempton on his return. I appreciate Dubai Honour didn't have to be anywhere near his Group 1-winning best, but connections must have been delighted, all the same.

He was also a big late drifter there (a Betfair SP of 16.04, having opened up at 7/18.00 on the show) so if that was a planned stepping stone to this prize, it could well prove to be a well-executed one.

However, the facts of the matter are that he has to back up that run, his first since September 2022, and this race does have real Group 3 depth to it, so the Sportsbook's 10/34.33 is pretty much his correct price in this field.

He was actually cut across the board from a general 9/25.50 on Wednesday, so you may conclude you have missed the price. I have.

That 14s Artistic Star (now the generally available price with 16s in one place) so nearly lured me in, though. And he was actually a huge 20s in five places on the Oddschecker grid on Wednesday afternoon, albeit briefly.

Stay tuned to the end of this column with him. I am still deciding whether to take the plunge.

Back Artistic Star @ 14/115.00

Bet here

Sandown 15:00 - No bet

We have another seven-runner race in the Group 2 1m at 15:00. Lord North, stepping down to this trip for the first time since October 2019, is the form horse and he should have a fair pace to aim (see below) for his stamina to kick in late.

Now, if I thought the previous three races on ITV were tricky, then I had clearly not seen anything yet, as I could make a case for all seven at their various odds.

Nostrum could well improve past them all, as he looked so good when winning on the July course last season, and fresh may be the time to catch him, but I just filed this under "Too Hard", especially as Nostrum's potential has been factored into his odds of 5/23.50.

Sandown 15:35 - No bet

At around even money on the Betfair Exchange, I'd probably rather be more with Arabian Crown in the Classic Trial at 15:35, than against him, as he has pretty much the best form and time credentials. He is also a course winner, and his stable is chugging along nicely.

The two that probably interested me on first looking at this race on Wednesday, were Portland and Under The Sun at 10s and 40s respectively. And the latter price has held, with Portland trimmed into 7/18.00.

Portland is actually officially rated the same as Arabian Crown on 108 (1lb ahead of Beckett's Macduff) and he has had a run - against what could be a smart filly, too - so double-figures looked very fair to me each-way, while Under The Sun did very well to finish fourth at Chelmsford on his return considering he did a lot wrong there, not least coming via the M11 entering the straight.

Under The Sun at 40s each way is probably the pick of that pair. If you want a small-stakes investment on the contest, he is the one.

However, this is another sit-out jobber for me, especially as I think Arabian Crown could cast an impenetrable cloak over this Group 3, as well as there being a few unexposed lurkers elsewhere.

The 6s poke War Rooms also looked very good on his debut before not quite stepping up, as the market suggested he might, in the Flying Scotsman next time.

Look and learn is the best strategy here. By the way, Matsuri has just been pulled out with a bad scope, so each-way punters should note we are down to the dead-eight now.

Perth 13:30 - No bet

Over at Perth - the ground is soft here, but the course said on Thursday morning that they expect good to soft to creep into the description at some point - Mack The Man looks a decent enough price at 7s each way, four places, in the opener at 13:30.

He was rated as high as 132 when with Evan Williams but the application of a visor has seen a revival of sorts for the excellent Nick Alexander, finishing second at Ayr and then going one better off a mark of 101 at Musselburgh last time.

He paid for that convincing win with an 8lb hike to 109, but that is obviously still workable given that back form.

However, as much as the 7s in isolation looks tempting, a wider sweep of the opposition suggests it is probably the right assessment of his chances. He is the bet in the race if you want one, though.

Perth 14:05 - Back Bretney

Now to the 3m6f+ handicap at 14:05, a race in which I am not surprised there has been early money around for Haute Estime, 8s into 6s, now that the Lucinda Russell yard is back rolling. But he is not the one I like.

Bretney ran a shocker at Cheltenham last time, jumping terribly as he is prone to do, but that is not the first time he has run poorly at that track (some horses just can't operate there). The key to him could just be a small field and getting on the front end, which he may well do here looking at my pace map.

Many of his better runs have been in single-digit fields when leading, as he did when making all and dotting up in a nine-runner race at Sandown in February.

The problem, aside from that poor run last time, is that he is actually set to go down 1lb in future and the Sportsbook are 10s, when he is 12s and 11s in two places. Henry Daly's horses wouldn't be in the best of nick either, going into Thursday's racing, although he did have one beaten in a photo at Ludlow on Wednesday.

The 1lb doesn't bother me (the stable form does, but I can live with it at the price), as his ability to stay and operate at this extreme distance is far more important, and it could be important that the blinkers have replaced cheekpieces.

He wore them for the first time when winning over an extended 3m5f at Bangor last year, and he again ran a cracker over that trip when touched off at Warwick on his penultimate start (seven-runner race).

Now, if you told me on Wednesday morning that my main tip for Friday's racing was going to be a win-only bet on a 9yo chaser who puts the "F" into fluent with his jumping, from an out-of-sorts yard, I'd have thought you mad, but that is indeed the case.

The fixed-odds 10s is fine, though you know what to do given my price comments above, and 11.010/1 bigger on the Exchange is obviously peachy, too.

Back Bretney @ 10/111.00

Bet here

No way would I lay him at double-figures; he could be half that price if getting to the front and getting into an early, acceptable jumping rhythm, after a couple of fences.

If you like your stable form very recent (see below), then the Greenall-Guerriero-trained Duke Of Deception, the 10/34.33 favourite, is the one for you.

Betfair Sandown Flat.jpg

Now back to Sandown where I have finally decided I have to tip Artistic Star win-only at 14/115.00 with the Sportsbook, or 15.014/1 or bigger on the Exchange.

Fixed-odds is the best way to play this, but he is currently 17.016/1 on the Exchange as this goes live, so those first to the reading party can snaffle that.

If I thought he was a fair price at 8s on Tuesday morning (and I did), then I have to stick him up at nearly twice the price here, with the same field. I am backing him, so I feel pretty much duty bound to tip him.

I was really taken by his course and distance win from the smart Torito last May, and his Derby and Royal Ascot runs over 1m4f hinted at a very good horse, and one who will be best suited to 1m2f.

I do fear Okeechobee, and I may actually also have a reverse forecast on the pair, as I not enamoured by the three at the top of the betting.

Anyway, health and wealth, all.


Going news for Sandown and Perth on Friday

Sandown

Round course - Good, good to soft in places

Straight: Good

Perth: Soft

Balloted out: None

First-time headgear

George Boughey cheekpieces 12-86 (since 2020)

John and Thady Gosden blinkers 8-51 (2021)

John Gosden blinkers 34-212 (2009)

Simon and Ed Crisford cheekpieces 2-29 (2020)

Simon Crisford cheekpieces 7-25 (2016)

Ewan Whillans visor 0-1 (2022)

Pace Maps

1.15pm Sandown: Hedge Fund, Sports Coach (prominent), Rogue Enforcer (prom), Serried Ranks (prom), Shagraan (prom), Equity Law (prom), Tan Rapido (prom),

1.50pm Sandown: Blue Lemons?, Cracking Gold, Hand Of God (prom), Rocking Tree, Nellie Leylax (prom)

2.25pm Sandown: Tasman Bay?, Okeechobee?

3pm Sandown: Flight Plan, Poker Face?, Nostrum?, Pogo?

3.35pm Sandown: Arabian Crown, Portland?, Under The Sun (prom)

1.30pm Perth: Lively Citizen (prom), Well Planted (prom), Jason The Militant?, Forcing Bull, Mack The Man (prom), Old Gregorian (prom), Can't Stop Now, Polisud (prom)

2.05pm Perth: Prince Des Fichaux (prom), Haute Estime?, Bretney, Return Fire (prom)

Trainer form

For all with runners in ITV races (does not include Thursday's results):

Excellent: Greenall/Guerriero (four winners at Ludlow on Wednesday, as well as a close third there and a narrow runner-up at Uttoxeter)

Good: Botti, Burrows (not many runners), Burke, Fellowes, Charlton, Charlie Appleby, Palmer, Hammond

Fair: Muir/Grassick (borderline good with two recent winners), Andrew Balding, Haggas, Hannon, Boughey (not many winners but going well enough), Gosdens, Aidan O'Brien (has been better), Bell, Jeffreys (very few runners, but recent 25-1 winner and close 33-1 fourth at Aintree), Murphy, Russell (and probably nearer good), Alexander, Ewan Whillans, George (very few runners), Mulholland (25-1 winner on Wednesday)

Moderate: Fahey, Beckett, Mick Appleby, Hills, Cox, Knight (winnerless in 2024), Varian (few near-misses, granted), Kirby, McCain, Jardine (though recent 25-1 second), Nicky Richards, Daly (though had a narrow second at Ludlow on Wednesday), Menzies

Undecided: Peter Chapple-Hyam (so few runners), Dascombe (few runners; couple have gone well recently), Todd (so few runners), Stoute (first winner of year with last runner, at 8-11), Barry Brennan, R Mike Smith (two recent runners went okay but very few runners), Coltherd


Now read Ryan Moore: Some good chances in Sandown's Group races on Friday


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