Saturday Racing Tips: A suite of selections on a sizzling Saturday from Tony Calvin

Tony Calvin
Find out Tony's four selections this Saturday

Tony Calvin has scoured the racing cards and picked out four bets worth chancing across Sandown, Leopardstown and Musselburgh...

  • Our resident tipster lines up a 33/1 tip at Leopardstown

  • Two from Sandown on Saturday

  • A might selection from Musselburgh

No weather warnings this weekend

The usual housekeeping to start with, although we can deal with the weather forecast in one fell swoop for all four ITV courses on Saturday. It is pretty much dry everywhere, though Musselburgh may get a few spits and spots.

The weather has been so good darn sarf this week that Sandown have actually been watering from Tuesday onwards, and it is currently good to soft there, with good patches on the chase course and soft in places over hurdles.

It is good to soft at both Musselburgh and Wetherby, and yielding to soft at Leopardstown where there have been watering since Monday (and throughout the winter, with a view to the Dublin Racing Festival this weekend, if the tales are true).

I'm going to kick off in Ireland, even though ITV are only showing the Irish Gold Cup live on Saturday.

Starting with the best racing first

It is great news that all of the fields on Saturday's Leopardstown card have stood up so well from the four-day stage, as some races looked to be in danger as cutting up badly if Willie Mullins played it safe.

He hasn't.

Indeed, when I say the fields have stood up well that is something of an understatement. In the opening four Grade 1s on the card, only Blood Destiny in the Spring Hurdle came out, so well played William for unleashing hell on the opposition.

Game on.

Obviously, Mullins is still dominating the card numerically (two of his six in the eight-runner Spring Juvenile make their debuts for the yard too, having raced just once in France, adding an unknown element to proceedings).

The betting suggests he has a very fair chance of landing at least three of the Grade 1s with Galopin Des Champs, Lossiemouth and one of his immensely strong battalion of five in the Irish Arkle.

It really is quite something to behold when his two outsiders in the Arkle - which promises to be some spectacle with the potential pace burn-up - are a last-time-out Grade 1 winner and a horse arriving in the race on the back of a 38-length success in a very good time, but that is the world we are living in at the moment.

Is there a handicap in 33/1 chance Espion?

I don't really have a betting opinion in the premier races to be honest but, unsurprisingly, the handicaps interested me more. I am going outside of my terrestrial brief here, but let's live dangerously.

I thought A Great View had a better shout than his 25/1 quote suggests in the 3m handicap hurdle at 15:40 but my one Irish tip and bet on the day is Espion Du Chenet at 33/1 each-way with the Sportsbook in the 2m1f handicap chase at 16:10.

I think you will get a fair deal bigger win-only on the exchange, so you may want to try to back him there. Your call.


Actually that's a bit of a lie as to him being my sole punt as I will have a saver on Fils D'oudairies at 8/1+ as he ran very well over hurdles in a very valuable Listowel handicap last time and is 5lb lower in this chasing sphere, but Espion Du Chenet can hopefully spring an upset under his usual partner, 7lb claimer Cian Quirke.

Granted, the handicapper is hardly cutting him much slack for recent defeats, but I don't think he has been ridden optimally since a good, close fifth off a 2lb higher mark than this at Down Royal in November.

He never really got into it from well off the pace on his last two starts - though I thought he shaped very well at Fairyhouse on his penultimate start - and ironically he found himself in front far too soon at Cork previously, a race in which he looked to have in the bag before getting swallowed up on the run-in.

He has a handicap in him off this mark then (he was rated 4lb higher after winning at Punchestown last May) and maybe the first-time cheekpieces will get him over the line.

I haven't a clue who trainer Louise G Lyons is, she hasn't had a winner since May, and she is 0 from 5 with that headgear angle.

But delve a bit deeper and, among those five, she has had an 8/1 second, a 33/1 third and a 28/1 fourth, so that is far more encouraging. And she did send out a good Listed race second at Cheltenham in April for a bit more balance.

Back Espion Du Chenet each-way with the Sportsbook in 16:10 at Leopardstown


Hot Rod an appealing bet at Sandown

I have no interest in the four-runner Grade 2 Towton novices' chase at Wetherby at 14:40 - though O'Toole at the Sportsbook's 9/2 probably makes a shade more appeal than the odds-on jolly Ballygriffincottage at 4/7 - so on to Sandown.

First up is the 2m3f17yd handicap hurdle at 13:10 and it is a tricky little six-runner race. If Hot Rod Lincoln was coming here straight from his fourth to Knowsley Road off levels in a maiden hurdle at Chepstow in November then he'd a pretty warm order off 110.

Back Hot Rod Lincoln win-only with the Sportsbook in 13:10 at Sandown


The first three home in that Chepstow race are now rated 134, 117 and 120, and the fifth, sixth and seventh have all won since.

The problem is he has run poorly on soft ground at Lingfield and Hereford since, but if a break has helped him, and he is also fitted with a first-time tongue-tie here, then he could easily bounce back.

The first firm up on Thursday made him a 10/1 chance and that looked to be very big about a horse who also won his only point - beating a horse by 8 lengths who is rated in the 120s over hurdles and fences in Ireland - and I am very happy to take my chances with him, all things considered, especially as the Sportsbook trumped the 10s by a point.

Back him at 11/1 with the Sportsbook.

All eyes on Gerri in Scilly Isles

It obviously wouldn't be any surprise if Dolos won the race now named after him at 13:45 - three wins and two seconds from five efforts is some going - but he has been priced accordingly and this could be the hottest renewal he has encountered now he has hit 10 years of age. I couldn't rule out any of the eight, so no bet.

I also won't be punting in the five-runner Scilly Isles at 14:20, though Gordon Elliott has spiced up the encounter by running the unbeaten, seven from seven, Gerri Colombe.

He may prefer deeper ground though and a longer trip - he is only in the three-miler and the National Hunt Chase at the Festival, and I imagine a big factor in him running here was Elliott's desire to split up Mighty Potter and him this weekend - so I wouldn't be going near him at around even money myself, and Thunder Rock and Balco Coastal would interest me much more at around 9/2 on the exchange.

A straightforward case for Laskalin

I thought Coquelicot and Green Book, at 10s and 9s respectively, could be the two to concentrate on in the 2m7f+ handicap hurdle at 14:55, though it is a very competitive race, clearly.

Coquelicot's form with the likes of recent winners Glimpse Of Gala and West Balboa read very well and she remains fairly handicapped off 127, while last year's winner Green Book was very weak in the market when disappointing on his return at Chepstow over Christmas (his first run since a wind op) so maybe you can forgive him that.

I deliberated whether to dutch the pair, but ending up ditching them instead. The race had depth. No bets.

However, Laskalin looks worth a modest investment at 7/1 each-way, four places, in the 3m handicap chase at 15:00.

Back Laskalin each-way, four places, with the Sportsbook in 15:30 at Sandown


The case for him is straightforward, and pretty brief, in truth.

For some reason, he didn't take up his entry in the Skybet Chase last week, and maybe it was the ground there (and he may prefer it softer than is likely here, too), but he looks very solid to me.

I thought 3m2f in worsening ground found him out in the closing stages at Newbury last time, but it was still a good effort to finish third and the step back down to 3m is a plus.

Musselburgh 1280 .jpg

He is only 5lb higher then when beating subsequent winner Tide Times by 3 lengths on good to soft ground at Ludlow previously (the third was only beaten a neck on his next start too), so I like his chances to smallish stakes.

The 2021 Ballymore fourth Bear Ghylls also looks a fair price at 6/1 in the 2m4f novices' handicap chase at 13:28 at Musselburgh, not least because all five of his rivals have gone forward in the recent past, which could play well to his hold-up style.

If he returns to the form of his Carlisle third in October, then he is on a very winnable mark of 138 here - that's very strong form in the context of this race - but he did disappoint last time and we haven't seen him since November. I can just about leave him alone.

A strong fancy for Nayati at Musselburgh

I was tossing up between Flower Of Scotland and Truckers Lodge in the Edinburgh National at 14:03, and I very nearly pulled the betting trigger on the latter.

He has been generously dropped to his lowest ever chase mark of 137 despite a fair, if distant fourth, in the Welsh National last time but I just wonder whether the ground will be a touch too lively for this grinder.

No, the only Musselburgh bet I am having is Nayati at 7/1 each way in the 1m7f127yd handicap hurdle at 15:16.

It's quite a strong fancy, too.

I was kicking myself for not tipping him here last time when he was a convincing 2-length winner from stablemate Collingham, who re-opposes, as I was all over him at Sandown previously when he disappointed.

I normally forgive any horse a poor run on that punishingly deep Esher hurdles track, but for some reason I ignored him.

Certainly, if you take out the Sandown run then he is a progressive horse - he won really well at Bangor previously - and one for whom a 3lb rise may not stop him following up. He really did win well here last time, really asserting close home.

I may have a small saver on Kihavah, who won at this two-day meeting last season and who shaped okay on the Flat at Southwell last month - the first-time cheekpieces may help him, too - but I am just tipping Nayati here. He stays further, so hopefully he gets a good pace to aim at, and I count five forward goers in here.

Good luck.

Back Nayati each-way with the Sportsbook in 15:16 at Musselburgh


PROFIT AND LOSS (from March 26)

Staked: 326
Returns: 474.8
P/L: +148.8


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Prices quoted in copy are correct at time of publication but liable to change.

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