Tony Calvin tips 90.089/1 winner Penna Rossa on Friday
Betfair Tingle Creek should be a cracker
TC backs pair in 14:20 at Sandown
Price on Red Happy cannot be ignored
Two bets at Aintree
Captain Guinness is the only absentee from the Betfair Tingle Creek five-day decs from Monday - and a surprising one at that - and I expect all six to line up and race now.
Famous last words etc.
Greaneteen should be Tingle Creek favourite
The times on Friday will obviously tell us more but I imagine Andrew Cooper will provide more than enough dig in the ground on the chase course to satisfy all (currently good to soft in places after another 5mm on Thursday) even if Betfair ambassador Paul Nicholls would have gladly seen no watering at all this week for his Greaneteen, as the better the surface the better his chance.
I don't have a strong betting opinion at the current prices but I backed last year's winner Greaneteen at 3/1 after his deeply impressive Haldon Gold Cup win at Exeter last month and I am obviously more than happy with that position now he trades less than a point shorter.
In fact, I would probably have the three-time Grade 1 course winner as the marginal favourite in here over Shishkin as who knows if the latter's physical issues - they genuinely found a serious bone condition after his Cheltenham run, by all accounts - will resurface under the pressure of a white-hot racing tempo? They won't be hanging around here with the likely pace set-up.
That favourite line may appear to run against my earlier comment about not having a strong betting opinion now, but the problem with laying Shishkin on the Betfair Exchange (the most obvious betting route into the race perhaps) is that I don't really fancy anything outside of Greaneteen, and Shishkin has already drifted out to around 6/4.
If you do want a bet then Nicholls' horse at around 15/8 is the best play in the market, for all Shishkin is clearly the better horse on last season's Ascot defeat of Energumene.
Whether the 2m1f Clarence House winner will be seen to maximum effect over just 1m7f119yd on his first start around here (perhaps an overlooked factor) is another fairly major question mark for me, too.
Anyway, in short, I am content to just watch a potential cracker with no fresh bets.
Two bets for the 14:20
Jonbon will probably win the 13:45 at Sandown without too much fuss if reproducing his Warwick effort, even if Ascot winner Boothill is no mug whatsoever. But you crack away on your lonesome if you want to back him at 3s-on.
So, as ever, it is the handicaps that grab my betting interest. I have rather hamstrung myself by revealing my punting hand on Betfair's Racing Only Bettor Podcast on Thursday night (see video below) - that's why my column tends to go up first - but let's see what we have.
I am going to start the Saturday ball rolling by dutching Nayati and Homme Public in the 2m handicap hurdle at 14:20, a race in which Love Envoi is too short at sub-2/1 and makes the market for the rest.
Nayati looks a very tempting punt at double-figures, and he is the main bet at 12.011/1 or bigger on the Betfair Exchange.
The Sportsbook's 11/1 is obviously very fair too, so that's an obvious alternative, and possibly the better one, so I suggest you back him there if you can.
Nayati appears to be an improved performer since returning from a massive absence (1013 days to be precise) to win over 2m at Perth in September, after which he was given a rather large mountain to climb with excessive waiting tactics at Cheltenham.
He did remarkably well to finish third there in the circumstances, and he did it very snugly at Bangor over an extended 2m3f last time.
The step back down in trip doesn't bother me around here (in fact his proven stamina over further is a plus as the Sandown hurdles track is sapping even on decent ground) and a 6lb rise for the win is bridgeable, too.
I will also have a win-only saver on Homme Public at 5.59/2 or bigger. Again, he is that price (9/2) with the Betfair Sportsbook if you want to side with him there.
The case for him is straightforward. He gagged up at Wetherby on his return and the handicapper could have let him off lightly with just a 7lb rise. There is little much else to add really other than the trainer has always thought he had a decent performer on his hands (he said after the Wetherby win that he has started to grow up and relax - the horse, that is).
Love Envoi has to be respected off what looks a lenient mark but, in common with a lot of short-priced favourites in handicaps this weekend, she has hardly been missed in the market.
Happy to back Red at the price
When I first looked at the 3m5f London National at 15:30 literally the last horse I expected to tip was Red Happy, but the 40s win-only with the Sportsbook is simply too big to ignore.
You may get a bigger price nearer the off on the Betfair Exchange, but the 40s is very fair.
David Pipe must be a little sheepish turning this horse out time and again - this will be his 22nd start in 2022 - but the owners pay the bills and if the BHA's welfare team are happy then he has every right to run the horse.
And, his ridiculously busy schedule aside, it is actually easy to make a pretty strong case for the 5yo, even if he has raced more times in a year than many do in a lifetime.
He ran a pretty good race off a 6lb higher mark than this in last week's Coral Gold Cup - a good race considering he was a 66s poke, that is - and he is back on the same mark as when winning at Exeter four starts ago, back in October.
Decent ground for him is a positive and he finished a 1 ½ length second in the Norfolk National over this 3m5f in May, so the trip is within his compass.
All these Nationals do make me laugh though. And the Fakenham version was a new one on me.
Again, the 7/4 favourite Revels Hill has a big chance, up in trip after a very good return over 2m5f at Ascot, but the current price just didn't do it for me.
Schiehallion Munro can strike at Aintree
Over at Aintree, I thought Sam Brown was the most attractive bet at 8/1+ in a very tricky Many Clouds at 13:30, even with his 4lb penalty for his runaway course and distance handicap win back in April, though the progressive Sounds Russian could prove very troublesome.
Sam Brown's Charlie Hall return when third to Bravemansgame and Eldorado Allen, was very promising and his second in the Peter Marsh last season was another reminder what a good horse he is on his day.
But I like the handicap plays on the card a lot better, so I will leave him alone on such a busy day. I was tempted, though.
The Becher Chase is certainly not for me, either. I have seen Grand Nationals easier to call than this 23-runner jobber at 14:05. Dr Kananga and Fantastikas would be my nominal two against the field if you are interested, but they are half-hearted suggestions with no money behind them.
I am, however, betting in both of the concluding handicaps in the home of the Scouse, starting with Schiehallion Munro. You are getting an enhanced four places if you want to back him each-way, but I'll go on the nose in the 14:40.
He was 25s when I gave them a very positive mention on the podcast, but unfortunately he is just 18s with the Sportsbook now, so I will put him up on the Betfair Exchange win-only. Back him 21.020/1 or bigger.
He is 18s with the Sportsbook if you want to punt him there, four places.
I was actually going to dutch him with Clan Legend but a re-assessment of the Liverpool weather put me off him in the final sweep of the copy and I did a re-write.
The case for Clan Legend is glaringly obvious and I couldn't understand the opening price of 25/1 in the marketplace.
Sure, he is a 12yo but he is going for a third straight win in the race and he is 3lb lower than when taking it last season, and this is just his fourth outing since. And the horse he beat in this race last year (in testing ground), Riders Onthe Storm, is 5/2 favourite here, albeit off the back of an excellent Old Roan win.
He ran a perfectly good race on his return when second at Ayr, and he has won second time out in his last three seasons of racing. He will have been primed for this.
The problem is the ground has dried up to good to soft at Aintree, and this is a mudlark we are dealing with. I wouldn't be surprised if they pulled him out, and I've withdrawn from the bet.
I actually liked Schiehallion Munro even more, anyway. He went into the Plate at the Cheltenham Festival on a three-timer and he ran better than his beaten distance suggests.
He wasn't given at all a hard time on his reappearance at Wetherby, he was dropped 2lb for it, and that would have set him up nicely for this. I have barely heard of 3lb claimer Emma Smith-Chaston but 17 wins at a strike rate of 18 per cent this season is good enough for me. The ground is fine for him.
I know it was only a ½-length win in a four-runner race but he is already back on the same mark as for his Wetherby win three starts ago.
Handicapper gives Sizing Pottsie every chance
I nearly doubled-up again in the 2m4f handicap hurdle at 15:15 as I can see that old rascal Benson loving this 2m4f test but I will rely solely on Sizing Pottsie (though I will almost certainly have a few quid on Benson too, even if the early 20s is long gone and the Sportsbook's 12s is now the best around).
Sizing Pottsie was actually still in the Tingle Creek prior to Monday's forfeit stage - he was a 157-rated chaser at his best for Jessie Harrington, and won a Grade 2 as recently as March - but he can race off 133 here, some 18lb lower than his chase mark, and he has run two blinders in novice hurdles this season, winning one at odds of 2/7 by 18 lengths and finishing second in the other.
Up to 2m4f (he hasn't been tried much over 2m4f, but he finished second to Melon in a Red Mills over this trip in heavy ground) off a tempting hurdles mark, he rates a bet at 10.09/1 or bigger.
I appreciate Walking On Air could have a stone in hand, and Langer Dan has to be feared along with Harbour Lake, but Sizing Pottsie has been given every chance by the handicapper.
A very big one.
Good luck, and come and say hello if you see my ugly mug at Sandown.
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