8/19.00 Moka De Vassy can win if he puts it all together
20/121.00 Rock My Way is worth a spin
I don't know why ITV persists with showing novices' chases on their broadcasts.
I appreciate the racecourses and their sponsors have the final say, but surely the BHA and ITV can have some vital input at a time when maximizing betting turnover, and maintaining viewer interest, is paramount in the industry.
Races that routinely fail to hit the magic eight mark for runners simply don't cut it for punters or bookmakers. Hot on the heels of the four-runner Arkle trial on Friday, we have just six going to post for Saturday's 13:45.
This is something that is often easily be predicted at the five-day stage, too.
There is a 20-runner handicap chase on Racing TV just before the terrestrial coverage starts, and it just seems a no-brainer to me to switch that and the novices' chase around.
Don't get me wrong, the 13:45 looks a fair enough race , and Good Risk At All looked very good when seeing off Alaphilppe at Carlisle on his fencing bow, even if he obviously benefitted from the fall of the smart Giovinco, but it is not a race that screams "come and bet" to me.
With so much potential pace in here - Mister Coffey, and stablemates Weveallbeencaught and Broadway Boy - Good Risk At All could get a nice tow into the race too, and I was surprised when the Sportsbook went 5/16.00 about him first thing on Thursday.
But he would probably want it deeper (the forecast is not as bad it was and we are probably looking at good to soft ground come the weekend) and he may be best at shorter. It is a race I can easily leave alone. Especially as that 5s quickly became 15/4 on Thursday, and then 10/34.33.
On Tuesday, I took something of a flier when sticking up Torn And Frayed at 20/121.00 win-only for the Paddy Power at 14:20, and I suspect the Betfair Exchange market near the off on Saturday will tell the story of whether he has had a trouble-free run at this race.
Up until now, the trainer hasn't explained why the horse has been off for so long. Nigel Twiston-Davies is no Paul Nicholls in that regard.
Obviously, we haven't seen him since he won impressively here in January 2022, and he has run well on his other three starts at this track too, but he looks well treated off effectively 136 (he is 1lb out of the handicap) on just his sixth chase start.
I am not pressing up, but fingers crossed for a good run.
What immediately strikes you about this race is the potential for a proper burn-up, so Tom Bellamy would do well to take his medicine and sit off the lead if they do go helter-skelter early doors.
I counted that nine of the 14 could go forward.
It's a typically open renewal, although I toyed with Notlongtilmay, at 7/18.00 each-way, four places, as he was my second choice on Tuesday. The current 9.417/2 on the Exchange is tempting as well.
He is pretty much weighted to dead-eight with the favourite Stage Star on their Festival running in the Turners and he just looks very solid after a good comeback run over 2m, but I will stick with the ante-post play.
I know Laura Morgan has had a recent winner and Percussion ran well in the Grand Sefton last weekend, but I'd like to see the stable firing a touch more. Plus Notlongtilmay could easily run a career-best off a mark of 152 here and finish fifth. Only 14 runners, but this race has depth.
When I saw the Sportsbook open up 14/115.00 about Moka De Vassy for the 3m handicap hurdle at 14:55, I resigned myself to that price being long gone by the time I came to publish this piece.
By 13:20 on Thursday, the best price around was 10s and the Sportsbook has gone 14/115.00 to 10/111.00 to 15/28.50.
Normally, I would walk away in a sulk, but I was always going to stick him up win-only anyway - the Sportsbook are four places - and I decided that 9.08/1 or bigger on the Exchange is still acceptable on another quiet punting day.
You'll probably get bigger than 8s - he is 10s in a couple of places fixed-odds as this goes live - but that is the guide price.
And I'll settle at Betfair SP, as per usual. I suppose if you wanted to play him each-way, four places, the 15/28.50 is just about okay. Well, it was before he was cut to 13/27.50 just before this column went live on my final swoop of the price checks!
The reason why I am going win-only myself is that the horse is not the most fluent of hurdlers. He fell at the second when I had a good go on him for the Pertemps (he went off 16/1 off a 2lb higher mark than this) and errors at the final two obstacles probably cost him victory at Exeter last month. Particularly that mistake two out.
So I am not bothered by a 1lb rise for his third there and, aside the Pertemps fall, he has run two good races at this course.
He finished second in the Triumph Hurdle trial here in January 2022 and shaped very well over an inadequate 2m4f here back in January.
If he puts it all together, then I am sure he can win off this mark, and surely as a 5yo having just his 12th start better times lay ahead.
I am also going to take a chance with Rock My Way win-only at 20/121.00 with the Sportsbook, or 21.020/1 or bigger on the Exchange, in the 2m5f handicap hurdle at 15:30.
I appreciate he has run like a drain since winning over a Grade 2 over an extended 2m4f here in January but two of those efforts came over 3m and he was probably done for the season when performing pretty dismally here in April.
Although he is a winning pointer, the evidence is pointing to him not being best suited to 3m, so down to a mark of 133 and back over the trip which he won here in January (and previously also finished second to Weveallbeencaught at 66/167.00 on New Year's Day) I am going to give him a spin at the price.
Hopefully, the two Irish horses let him have his own way out in front, and he can stay there, not that he needs to lead.
We also have two races at Lingfield to ponder over and, to be perfectly honest with you, I thought I would deal with them both in a couple of sentences.
Regal Reality does not have an easy task under a 5lb penalty in the 1m2f Listed race at 14:36 but he has to be a strong favourite by default as he meets a lot of out-of-form horses or rivals that are coming here off long breaks.
Add in the fact that he probably showed his best form for over three years when a narrow second to course specialist Mutasaabeq over a mile in the Group 2 Joel Stakes last time, and he isn't a horse I'd be overly-keen to oppose.
His only experience of this track also saw him beaten just a nose over this 1m2f trip (which his best form came over) and he looks by far the most solid of these.
In fact, if you wanted to keep it simple and put him in a forecast with the only other horse in the race with good recent form, Rousay, who gets 10lb from him, I wouldn't deter you.
The 9/43.25 about Regal Reality with the Sportsbook is very fair - though he is 5/23.50 elsewhere - and I was surprised Rousay was 16s if you shop around.
Personally, I'll be eschewing the win options though and throwing a few quid at the straight forecast, and maybe an exacta too, on the Tote option on the Betfair site.
In the 6f Listed race at 15:11, connections of Exalted Angel have the option of switching their tactics on the 7yo, as the pace horses are drawn in 10 and 11. It could be a good move if he is sent forward, or at the very least sits very handy, from trap seven.
Third to Summerghand in this race last season, he was perhaps a shade unlucky not to be vying for the winners' enclosure spot on his first run since April at Newcastle recently, not getting a run until too late after travelling well into the race.
His current mark of 95 obviously gives him plenty to find but he was rated 108 in his pomp and he has a good body of work over course and distance. In fact, a lot of his best career efforts have come around here.
The Sportsbook were fully alive to his chance when they opened up at 12/113.00 about him on Thursday, but others were not and went 33s and 25s, which amazed me. The bigger prices were predictably taken but he is still on offer at 20s and 16s in places.
Of course, last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Cup Turf winner Mischief Magic, a winner at Kempton last month, has the class to win this, and win it well, but his Sportsbook price of 5/42.25 tells you as much.
His, perhaps towering, presence meant I wanted to back Exalted Angel each way, but I cannot play in good faith at the current price of 12s.
I may well come back with an update on Saturday's non-ITV races once the prices appear and the Exchange markets beef up, too.
Until then, good luck.
UPDATE at 9.45am Friday
My thoughts on the ITV races at Cheltenham haven't changed, though any overnight inclination to tip Notlongtilmay at 7s each way with the Sportsbook in the 14:20 was put to bed - sorry about the contradictory wording there - when he was trimmed into 6s yesterday.
If I had to nominate one horse most likely to finish in the first four though, it would be him. If you can snaffle 7s, with enhanced place terms, I think you'll be on a good bet. I regret not going in yesterday, to be honest.
I don't have any betting opinion in the Triumph Hurdle trial at 12:35, where the market sees it as pretty much a straight fight between 6/42.50 Milan Tino and 9/43.25 Burdett Road.
I rarely bet in bumpers, so the 16:05 can pass me by, so that left the 20-runner amateur jockeys' 3m1f handicap chase at 13:10.
The problem for me here is that I haven't got a clue about the competence of the riders, so I am not really inclined to unload with any gusto.
That said, I am personally going to back Chambard, excellent when fresh, and Tea Clipper, at 11/112.00 and 12/113.00 each way, five places with the Sportsbook. Only to very small stakes though, but follow me in if you like.
Just waiting to for the Sunday decs to come though. I hope Friday treats you well.
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