Couple of appealing prices in the Greatwood
Go for Gold with Torn and Frayed
As a Willie Mullins stable-switcher, running off bottom weight off a mark of 115, it was perhaps little surprise that Onlyamatteroftime was the big Monday mover for Sunday's Cheltenham's Greatwood Hurdle at 15:30.
And, for those who are aware of one of my many conspiracy theories in racing, the fact that he wasn't mentioned in a Racing Post stable tour published on Sunday is a massive plus.
I have no idea how shrewd and able an operator the horse's previous handler Niall Madden is, but the move to Mullins is clearly a massive upgrade, though it has to be said the great man's UK record outside of the Festival would not scare you.
Indeed, he is zero from five, with just one third placing, in England this season.
And two of the four he has run have been owned by Paul Byrne, who pays the bills for Onlyamatteroftime, with one of those beaten at 1/31.33. Byrne owned the 2020 Greatwood Hurdle winner The Shunter.
This is also a horse who pulled himself up going to the last at Cork last time, effectively refusing and running out. Plus he is rated 10lb higher by the UK handicapper.
Famous last words but, Mullins or no Mullins, this lightly-raced 7yo wouldn't be getting a penny of my money at his current cramped odds of 6/17.00. Saying that the 6s is the best price around, and he is 7.413/2 on the Betfair Exchange.
Because I currently still feel like death warmed up, I am going to cut straight to the chase, and not give you chapter and verse on all 18 entries, two less than the maximum allowed field of 20 on the day for this 100k race.
A further measure of the paucity of the UK hurdlers at the moment is that four of these are in the 13-strong Grade 1 Fighting Fifth at Newcastle next month (Nemean Lion, Too Friendly, Lookaway and Benson) and none are rated higher than 140.
This is not a high-class renewal then, but it is a hugely competitive one.
I'll start with the usual housekeeping, though. I am working on the basis of soft ground on Sunday (maybe 13mm due before then, but who knows this far out) and there is just the one double-entered horse in here in Sonigino, also engaged in a novices' handicap chase on the card.
Incidentally, the high-profile four-man syndicate of that horse , which include Sir Alex Ferguson, are also responsible for L'Eau Du Sud, a Dan Skelton horse who caught my eye on a couple of occasions last season after coming over from France, but who is far too short at 13/27.50 for me to tip. He is 10s elsewhere and 11.010/1 on the Exchange.
In truth, I would expect most of these to be trading at their current prices come Sunday morning - when we don't have to risk losing our money to a no-show and with each-way punters perhaps having five places to go at - but I'd say Knickerbockerglory is very fair at 8/19.00 with the Sportsbook, offering four places, and even more so at the current win-only 12.5 on the exchange.
Skelton's 7yo is officially 2lb well-in here under his 5lb penalty for his impressive Ascot win in a fast time on his comeback run, with fancied horses well beaten off in second and third.
Okay, his 5lb claimer lessened the burden there but he spreadeagled the field, powering clear after the last, and he probably deserves to be clear favourite on that much-improved performance. He was visually impressive but also backed up by the clock.
Aunties and uncles and all that, but if that Exchange 11/112.00 or so was available fixed-odds, I'd have no hesitation in putting him up.
Also looking at the Exchange, Anyharminasking clearly looks too big at his current price at 21.020/1 but I don't believe you should tip into lightly-traded markets. He is 10/111.00 with the Sportsbook.
He will be forever dogged by that April 2021 point win - look it up yourselves, as I bet everyone is sick of reading about that form irrelevance - and he went up 4lb for his Ffos Las second to Nemean Lion on his return. But he still has handicap upside off 137 given the way he shaped there.
Recent Wetherby runner-up Luccia, off a mark of 136, is the other one on my radar, but I can't see a clear reason to get involved at this stage.
The Paddy Power Gold Cup at 14:20 on Saturday is the other big handicap of the weekend, and Stage Star and Unexpected Party (coming here instead of the novices' chase on Friday, it would seem) are vying for favouritism.
However, I am going to take a small-stakes chance on Torn And Frayed at 20/121.00 win-only with the Sportsbook. He is 22.021/1 on the exchange.
Like most people it seems, I have tried and failed to find out why he has been off since gagging up by six lengths on the new course in January 2022.
Nigel Twiston-Davies, who won this race with Splash Of Ginge in 2017, isn't the most talkative, but he has started the season in great nick, with 27 winners since September from just 90 runners.
That is impressive going, so he will have plenty at home to judge Torn And Frayed's well-being against.
I also failed to find out what he was immediately raised to after that win off a mark of 131, but I am assuming he has been dropped a touch for his absence as he is off a perch of just 135 here, though he will be 1lb out of the handicap if The Real Whacker runs.
It's a bit of leap of faith, hence the modest stakes recommendation, but you can guarantee he won't be underdone on his return to action for this massive pot (I assume he is an intended runner) and he has run well on all four starts at this track.
Although he is a 9yo, this will be only his sixth start over fences, and he already looks well handicapped on what he achieved the last time we saw him.
The 20s is worth the risk. Notlongtilmay, 9.617/2 on the Exchange, would be my current second choice.
Read Tony Calvin Antepost Tips: Endless Escape at 16/1 is tempting on Friday
Watch Tony on this week's Weighed-In