ITV Races

Saturday Racing Tips: Tony Calvin's four to back at Sandown and York up to 40/1

Betfair horse racing tipster Tony Calvin
TC is tipping four on Saturday at Sandown and York

Tony Calvin runs the rule over a tricky afternoon of racing at Sandown and York on Saturday and comes up with four to back across both meetings...

  • Keep stakes small ahead of Royal Ascot says TC

  • Boardman backed at York at 12/113.00

  • Sandown trio includes bet at 40/141.00

Ryan Moore Superboost

Betfair Ambassador Ryan Moore rides the well-fancied James's Delight in the ultra competitive 6f handicap at York (15:35) today, and if you fancy the combination to finish in the top eight then you can back it now at the super-boosted price of 1/12.00 (from 4/71.57)

It is probably the trickiest set of races I have seen on an ITV Saturday offering for a while, so I am certainly keeping stakes to a minimum ahead of Royal Ascot next week.

Incidentally, I am looking to get my Royal Ascot daily previews up around 8:30am the day before.

York 13:50 - No bet

I'll start at York on Saturday, where we have three big-field handicaps to go at, starting with the 1m3f188yd contest for female amateur jockeys.

Those final three words will probably put many off, and I am not being sexist here. If you replaced female with male, you'd pretty much get the same reaction, I imagine.

But some would argue they are good betting heats as a good jockey is a massive plus, such as last year's winning rider Jody Townend on Arrange.

Initiative could be key here as I couldn't see a definite front-runner, though perhaps Amy Collier (who rode a 33/134.00 winner last month) and Toshizou will press forward from stall one.

Down to a mark of just 80 and stepping back to a more suitable trip after running over 1m5f at Hamilton last time, I think Toshizou is a fair price at 18/119.00 - the Sportsbook are also paying five places - considering those factors, allied to two good efforts at this track, including as recently as last month when third of 20 off a 2lb higher mark.

But I asked myself do I really want to be betting in this race? The answer is no, especially as I am not totally sold on the horse's stamina.

You can make a case for plenty of others too, possibly chief among them Lord Melbourne, the mount of Serena Brotherton, and he was immediately backed at the opening 9s to 15/28.50 with the Sportsbook.

York 14:25 - Back Boardman

The 20-runner 7f handicap at 14:25 is hardly any easier to solve, but I thought Boardman was a fair punt at 12s each way, five places, with the Sportsbook.

The opening 16s and 14s was taken pretty quickly on Thursday afternoon - annoying, admittedly - but the current price is acceptable and now the best around. Any lower than 12s and I would have pulled the tip, though.

His trainer Tim Easterby runs four here (including two interesting stable-switchers) and all have chances, but Boardman is hopefully the best of them.

You normally think Chester when hearing Boardman's name, and it was at that venue when he ran a curious race when a weak 10/111.00 chance under Ben Robinson last time, staying on from the rear all too late.

The handicapper was generous in dropping him another 2lb for that - he was rated 103 after winning at Chester last May and he is now down to 90 - and if David Allan, back on board here, can get a reasonably prominent pitch from stall seven then we could be in business late on here.

The Roodee may be the horse's favourite playground but Boardman has won here and also finished a good fifth in a 21-runner handicap back in 2021.

This is clearly a hugely competitive handicap and he is an 8yo now, but if the ground remains decent (see forecasts below) then he has a big run in him off this mark.

Allan has won four times on the horse, including when he bolted up here in an 18-runner handicap, and hopefully he will arrive menacingly on the scene a furlong out. And then deliver.

Keep an eye out on the weather though, as it wouldn't be ideal if it turned soft (as the forecast suggests it might), for all he has won on officially heavy ground. For that reason, keep stakes small. It is currently good at York.

Eligible was my idea of the next best bet in the race at 16s after running okay from a wide draw at Beverley last week, for which he was dropped another 2lb. A winner here last year off a 2lb higher mark, he is now a well handicapped horse, though I have no idea how good (or bad) the 7lb claimer on him is.

York 15:00 - No bet

The 1m5f188yd Listed race at 15:00 looks priced up about right to me but Chesspiece, in first-time blinkers, could get an uncontested lead if Paul Mulrennan wants it.

However, 5s is nothing too flash given the way he ran last time (the 7s elsewhere is more like it) and I couldn't see much of an angle into the race, with impressive Epsom scorer (in a good time) Relentless Voyager the worthy 5/23.50 favourite.

York 15:35 - No bet

The big-field handicaps return with the 19-runner 6f contest at 15:35 but, and I'll be brief here, I am not in the least bit tempted to get involved.

Ziggy's Condor has been the one for early money across the board, and from 12s to 7s with the Betfair Sportsbook, but this is not a race for me. Serried Ranks was half-interesting but he is just 10s, and as big as 14s elsewhere, so no dice there.

The well-regarded Elmonjed is the 6/17.00 favourite in here after getting smashed into 6/42.50 here last month and managing only sixth (in the race Ziggy's Condor was beaten only a nose) and he is now tried in cheekpieces.

His half-sister Pinafore (also trained by William Haggas) won in those first-time up. However, Haggas has a surprisingly modest record with headgear.

Sandown 14:40 - Back Nighteyes

Over at Sandown, the 5f Listed race at 14:40 is not the kind of race that normally interests me, though I was impressed by Nighteyes' success at Haydock last time (albeit off a mark of just 85) and I thought she was the bet in the race at the Sportsbook's 10/111.00, the best price around.

This looks a very winnable race.

She drops down to 5f for the first time but the way she travelled at Haydock gives you hope she can lie up with them here, even in this better grade, and I like the way this well-bred filly is progressing with her racing.

And that Haydock handicap last time could have been a hot 0-85. She is my bet of the day at the 10s, for all she may need to step up 10lb or so.

York 14:40 - Back Farasi Lane

The fierce-looking Saturday races continue with the 16-runner 1m handicap at 14:05.

I thought Classic was interesting, but so do the Sportsbook, who go just 7s (he is 14s and 11 elsewhere, though admittedly as short at 6s in a spot), so that is a no-no and I nearly took a swing at Imperial Fighter at 40s, as he is now dangerously well handicapped off 95.

Even though he went up 5lb to a career-high mark of 93, I thought Two Tempting was a solid each-way proposition at 14s, five places, with the Sportsbook and another who interested me each-way was Farasi Lane.

And it is Farasi Lane who is getting my cash at 14/115.00 each-way, five places. That's the general price, but there is some 16s in one place. You know what to do etc.

Some of the horse's best form has come in cheekpieces - though he won at Kempton in April without them - and they were back on board when he finished a staying-on third over 7f at Newcastle last time.

They are retained here and the step up in trip is a positive for this dual course winner (both successes came in cheekpieces).

There will be hard luck stories aplenty in this, but I hope his jockey tries to get a prominent pitch from trap seven to try to eliminate the possibility of him being one of those hostages to fortune.

York 14:40 - Back Imperial Fighter

There is something about Imperial Fighter though, so I have decided I am not letting him go unbacked and untipped at the Sportsbook's 40/141.00. That is the general price, though there is 50s knocking about, so get stuck in where you must.

He clearly hasn't kicked on from his Irish 2,000 Guineas third in 2022, though there have been some fleeting flashes of that ability, notably in the Group 3 Diomed Stakes at Epsom last year.

Rated 110 at his peak, he is now down to a mark of just 95, as I mentioned above, and I don't think his reappearance at Newmarket, over 7f, his stable debut, was totally devoid of promise.

A 30,000 guineas purchase out of Andrew Balding's yard last October, they put a first-time tongue-tie on him here, and hopefully Saffie Osborne rides him more aggressively from stall two here.

The stable are in the middle of a quiet spell at the moment but hopefully a narrow 20/121.00 second on Tuesday signals they are coming out of the other side now. At 40s, I'll take my chances regardless.

He could easily go off at three-figures on the Betfair Exchange - he has obvious blowout potential - but it is fairer to tip at the current fixed-odds price, rather than Exchange odds 48 hours down the line (as much as I want to settle at Betfair SP in an ideal world, you have to play fair with your readers). The Exchange market is very light at the moment, as you'd expect.

Please note 14s chance Great Blasket won at Nottingham on Thursday afternoon. He will carry a 5lb penalty if turning out again following that ½-length win.

Chester 15:20 - Antepost tips update

Thankfully, my ante-post selections, Witness Stand and Princess Alex, at 10s and 20s each-way, four places, were confirmed for the 15:20 at Chester.

That is where the good news ends, unfortunately.

The case I made for them on Tuesday obviously stands, though it was disappointing to get a maximum field of 14 (though 4/15.00 ante-post favourite Mount Eide went to Sandown instead) and then see them drawn 12 and 10 respectively.

Oof, as they say, so I was very surprised to see the Sportsbook open up with them at 4s and 7s early on Thursday afternoon.

In fact, one of the next firms up made Princess Alex an 18/119.00 chance (now 16s), and she has now drifted to a more realistic 12s with the Sportsbook.

Hopefully, they won't catch the Chester wide-draw disease and be withdrawn, but I won't be pressing up here.

Both of them will welcome the forecast rain though (see below), and there were winners drawn wide at the big meeting here last month, I suppose, so all is not lost.

Witness Stand won at Chester on his debut and progressed well through his juvenile year, and the handicapper has been generous by leaving him on the same mark after finishing second to the smashed-up, potential Group horse Never So Brave here last time.

The third, Dashing Darcey, is now 5lb higher after winning at Haydock last week and a reproduction of that last course run would put him bang in the mix here.

He will obviously need a lot of luck from stall 12, but there are six potential forward-goers in here, so hopefully he can benefit from any pace collapse.

He is also the only horse in the field with experience of the track, and I still feel he has a good shot at this, for all his price is now pretty unattractive.

Princess Alex went black type-hunting as a 78-rated filly in a Listed race at Musselburgh last time and it backfired, as she went up 9lb for finishing sixth of eight there.

But maybe the handicapper could have been even harsher given she had 90 and 100+ rated horses all around her - she finished in front of two rated 90 and 92 - and she did travel really well for a long way on the inner there. And the good ground there may not have been ideal, as she is thought to be best with some dig.

The pace she showed when making all at Beverley (good to soft) and Haydock (soft) this season will clearly stand her in very good stead if she can get away smartly from trap 10, but that draw is even worse than Witness Stand's in 12 given her usual run-style.

I guess 7lb claimer Sam Fielden, who won on a 12s poke for the excellent Michael Herrington at Yarmouth on Thursday, may just have to try to sit handy and ride his luck from there.

Still, the bets have been placed as the tips have been made, and I just hope we get a run for our money now. I'd fear Love Billy Boy but he, too, hasn't seemingly been done any favours by a draw in 11.

Apologies, as I had to file this column on Thursday afternoon, as I have to be out of the door early on Friday morning and may be out of action for most of the day.

Good luck, all.

Ground and weather

York: Good (2.5mm Thursday; 11.5mm Friday and Saturday)

Sandown: Good to firm, good in places (2mm Thursday; 5mm Friday and Saturday)

Chester: Good, good to soft in places (1.5mm Thursday; 8mm Friday and Saturday)

Balloted Out

2.05pm Sandown: Benavente, Local Hero, Aragon Castle

First time headgear

Simon and Ed Crisford blinkers 1-16

William Haggas cheekpieces 57-322

Pace maps

1.50pm York: Chase The Dollar? Cardano?, Piecederesistance, Southern Voyage? (few other prominent racers but seemingly no habitual front-runner in field)

2.05pm Sandown: Dancing Magic (prom), Two Tempting (prom), Bill Silvers, Terwada, Hiromichi (prom)

2.25pm York: Bear Force One?, Yanifer, Austrian Theory, Quest For Fun, Golden Pharaoh?, Our Havana

2.40pm Sandown: Dawn Charger, No Half Measures

3.00pm York: Chesspiece

3.20pm Chester: Princess Alex, Sailthisshipalone, Purefoy, Pitney?, Misemarald?, Secret World?

3.35pm York: James's Delight?, Woodhay Wonder, Cover Point?, Twilight Romance, We Never Stop, Imperial Guard?, Media Shooter, Vince L'Amour, Run Boy Run

Trainer form

For all with entries in Saturday's ITV races:

Good: Richard Fahey, Andrew Balding, Ralph Beckett (borderline fair), David O'Meara, Sir Michael Stoute, Roger Varian, Clive Cox, Geoff Oldroyd (2024 as a whole, one recent runner), Craig Lidster, Harry Eustace, Ed Walker, George Boughey, William Knight. Kevin Coleman

Fair: Tom Clover (arguably more moderate), David Evans (arguably more moderate), Karl Burke, Richard Hannon, Richard Hughes, William Haggas, Hugo Palmer (two recent winners at 11-2), Philip Kirby, Jack Channon, Daniel & Claire Kubler, David and Nicola Barron, David Loughnane, Brian Ellison (18-1 winner on Friday), Micky Hammond, Ian Williams, Anthony McCann, Tim Easterby (probably moderate, so I am being generous here), Michael Dods, Jim Goldie (though win strike rate not too clever), Scott Dixon, John And Sean Quinn, Charles Hills, Charlie Johnston, Jonathan Portman, David Simcock, Eve Johnson Houghton

Moderate: Charlie Fellowes (though one or two have run well), Martin Todhunter (very few runners), Ben Brookhouse (couple have run well), Roger Fell and Sean Murray, Kevin Ryan (18-1 winner on Friday), G Hourigan (one recent runner), Harriet Bethell (just two runners, though), Julie Camacho, Geoffrey Harker (just two runners), Peter Niven (very few runners, though one was an 8-1 second), Michael and David Easterby, Simon and Ed Crisford (for them), Tom Ward, Richard Spencer (though not many runners), James Tate, Roger Teal, Jamie Osborne (though 20-1 chance beaten in a photo), Richard Newland and Jamie Insole (though Great Blasket won at Nottingham on Thursday, followed up by two more successes, including at 50s on Friday, so moderate no more!), Rod Millman (arguably more fair, and 4-1 winner on Friday)

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