ITV Races - Tony Calvin

Saturday Racing Tips: Tony Calvin has fresh 28/1 and 16/1 plays for Betfair Ascot Chase day

Betfair Tipster Tony Calvin
Tony has 28/1 and 16/1 fresh tips for Saturday's ITV Racing

We have some fantastic action to look forward to on Betfair Ascot Chase day, and although Tony Calvin doesn't have a tip in the feature race, he does have fresh 28/1 and 16/1 wagers to go with his 25/1 ante-post wager from earlier in the week...

If you offered trainers a wet and wild night out at their local, debauched hostelry of choice, or a more natural soaking for their horses' hooves, they would opt for the latter all day long.

Hell-raisers no more in this jumps game.

To be fair, everyone in racing is desperate for a prolonged spell of rain and they got their wish to a small degree in the last 24 hours.

Unexpectedly, Ascot is now good, good to soft in places, after just a light shower on Thursday morning (0.6mm's worth), so they must have put down a fair degree of water since Monday.

Haydock is now good to soft, after they got 5mm of rain after the same amount of watering on Wednesday (more of the natural stuff is due there throughout Saturday), while Wincanton is good after they got 6mm and counting onThursday morning.

All three tracks must have been fearing ground on the quick side at the start of the week, but at least the field sizes have had a stay of execution.

For the time being at least.

Betfair Ascot Chase is race of the day but not a betting heat for me

I will start with the Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase at 15:35 on account of it being the best race of the day rather than a good betting medium.

I imagine the course will be on tenterhooks as we must be odds-on to get a "will he or won't he?" scenario as regards Shishkin running in the lead-up to the race.

Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville have runners and rides in the first two Ascot contests, so I imagine they will leave a definitive decision until after those, as the ground may well ride faster than the official description.


Other trainers may well be in the same boat too, so it won't be just a Nicky thing. Indeed, I know of others who will be doing exactly the same on Saturday, with Alex Hales being one.

As it is, Shishkin has a lot to prove anyway after his eclipses in the Champion Chase and Tingle Creek, for all they put forward bone and soft palate issues respectively as reasons for those disappointments - and that is without mentioning stamina concerns as he goes up in trip here - and last year's winner Fakir D'Oudairies and Pic D'Orhy will given him a very stern examination.

Maybe Hales' Millers Bank, who has had a wind op after his King George disappointment, will surprise them all at around 12s on the exchange (if he goes,) but it is not a betting race for me.

Happy with 25/1 ante-post tip but 14/1 Cap Du Nord would have been nice too

Nothing doing either in the four-runner novices' chase at 13:50 - the novices' hurdle at 13:20 should have got this race's terrestrial slot, as it features some reasonably exciting prospects - and clearly the valuable handicaps on the card are the main punting fodder.

For me, anyway.

In the 3m handicap chase at 14:25, I don't feel inclined to press up on my 25/1 win-only ante-post selection One True King from Tuesday, as much as he is a well-handicapped horse again now, who has decent course form and who will like the decent ground.

I just wish I had taken note of my other main comment in that article and that was the observation that Cap Du Nord, 14/1 at the time, could even go off favourite if aimed at this race in preference to the old Racing Post Chase at Kempton a week on Saturday that he won last year.

He is a mere 4/1 now, and that isn't that surprising as he went up only 2lb for a back-to-form effort in the Sky Bet Chase last time, and his revised mark is the same off which he won the aforementioned Kempton handicap by 2 ¾ lengths in February 2022.

He could be very hard to beat but the poor overall form of the Christian Williams yard this season (just five per cent) is not one statistic underlining his chances, for all this horse ran well last time.

I am not going to have a fresh bet in the race as it is also very easy to make a case for Revels Hill, among others, down to what could be his optimum trip of 3m and with first-time cheekpieces on.

Again though, Harry Fry may withdraw him if he thinks it is too quick (as he did at Doncaster last week) but he is a good 5 from 23 with this headgear angle.

Zoffany could be thrown in too keep his rivals at Bay

You can obviously also make a case for plenty in the 2m3f handicap hurdle at 15:00, not least the likes of Djelo and Too Friendly towards the top of the market, but Zoffany Bay could be thrown in here.

He was a good-ground hurdler when trained by Ali Stronge a few years ago but he excelled and seemed to progress markedly in (officially) deep conditions when being sent to race in France in 2020 and 2021.

He won three of his five completed starts there (he fell twice) and if the form of his latest run can be believed, at Auteuil in March 2021, he could be absolutely launched in off 122. The Irish and UK handicappers have appeared to give his French form very short shrift.

He won a 2m3f handicap that day two years ago and the horse who he beat 4 lengths, in receipt of 2lb, improved sufficiently to win a Grade 2 last year.

He must have had his issues since, so he is a chancy proposition, but he has joined Peter Fahey, who has an excellent record on his recent UK visits (nine from 42 in the last five years, with another 12 runners placed), and they have decided to come here instead of going to Gowran Park on Saturday, where he could have raced off a mark of 119 (albeit for a lot less money), so they must fancy their chances.

The Sportsbook are currently ducking him at 5/1 though, so I can't play there (they are offering four places by the way), but I will probably chuck a few quid on him win-only on the exchange at 7/1+ so that I don't lose if he wins.

However, I am going to stick to my guns in the face of a poor recent tipping spell - none of this short-priced lark just to get a winner on the board - and put up two big-priced selections.

Straightforward case for 28/1+ tip Thibault

It was going to start with Thibault at 33/1 each-way, four places, in this handicap hurdle at 15:00, until, incredibly annoyingly, he was cut to 20s just before 3pm on Thursday.

Very odd when he was (and is) 40s and 33s elsewhere (obviously attractive prices in my book), but I am happy to go with him at 29.028/1 or bigger on the exchange win-only. I settle at Betfair SP anyway, but that's my guide price.

Back Thibault win only in 15:00 Ascot @


The case for him is actually pretty straightforward.

A couple of recent all-weather spins over 2m will have blown away the cobwebs and a mark of 124 gives him sound claims.

Indeed, that is the same mark off which he finished second in this very race at 80/1 two years ago, and, while he has winning form on soft and heavy, his best efforts have come on decent ground, including on good to firm on the Flat.

In fact, they have come on decent ground under today's 7lb claimer Ben Ffrench-Davis, and hopefully the horse is ready to embark upon his form of last Spring when winning three from four, with a fair seventh at Aintree in between.

Trainer Adam West had his first jumps winner since November on Valentine's Day - he hasn't had a Flat winner since July - so I will take that as another positive.

Beware, 12/1 chance Supreme Gift is due to run at Haydock on Friday, so there will be a small Rule 4.

Snow can give her rivals the cold shoulder

The only other race that interests on Saturday is the Grand National Trial at Haydock at 14:40.

I talked up Small Present's chance on Monday, but I am walking the betting walk with Snow Leopardess at 16/1 each-way, five places.

Back Snow Leopardess, each-way, 5 places, in 14:40 Haydock @


She went off 10/1 for the Grand National off a mark of 146 last April, but she finds herself available at six points bigger off just 137 here, and she seemed to be loving life a lot more in a Cross Country race at Cheltenham last time.

Indeed, she was a close second to the winner turning in and I'd be inclined to take a far more positive view of that Cheese Wedge form than the handicapper, who dropped her another 3lb for it.

She is now 3lb lower than when winning the 3m2f Becher Chase in 2021, after which she was very impressive in a mares' Listed race at Exeter, and she is also one from one around here, too.

I appreciate she may want it softer than she is likely to get here, but one site has 4mm arriving at Haydock through Saturday (and 2mm on Friday), so that'd be handy if landing early.

Charlie Longsdon immediately namechecked both this race and/or the Cross Country at the Festival for her after that run last time, and the fact that he sticks first-time cheekpieces on here suggests this is the priority.

Longsdon is a fair 6 from 35 with the pieces in recent years, with his chasers in particular making a profit to level stakes.

Good luck

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