ITV Races - Tony Calvin

Tony Calvin Antepost Tips: Going may be Shishkin's biggest obstacle in Betfair Denman Chase

Betfair horse racing tipster Tony Calvin
TC advises patience when weighing up a bet in two races on Betfair Super Saturday

In his second antepost preview of Betfair Super Saturday at Newbury Tony Calvin discusses the Betfair Denman Chase and the Betfair Exchange Game Spirit Chase...

  • Boothill fav in Betfair Exchange Game Spirit

  • Shishkin has quality to win the Denman Chase

  • 20/121.00 Sam Brown could thrive in funky conditions

I thought re-scheduling the Clarence House Chase nine days ago was ill-advised - though Jonbon's defeat at 1/41.25 presumably made it Levy-positive - because we already had a ready-made domestic alternative a fortnight later in the shape of this weekend's Betfair Exchange Game Spirit Chase at 14:40 and re-staging the Ascot race at Cheltenham would take away likely runners from Newbury.

I appreciate the Game Spirit is only a Grade 2, unlike the Grade 1 Clarence House, but you get my drift.

It's a sad state of affairs, but I was actually surprised to see as many as six entered for this race on Monday, including Editeur Du Gite, who ran very poorly when a 48-length last of five in the aforementioned Clarence House.

It was set to be seven but connections of the 148-rated Matata had a late change of heart, having originally put him in the race on Monday morning. He now goes for the Kingmaker at Warwick this weekend, a race that has attracted five entries for a 75k pot.

There are indeed three certainties in life: death, taxes and free money for novice chasers in Graded races.

Now, obviously six is nothing flash for the 85k Grade 2 at Newbury but, given the dearth of 2m chasers, I genuinely expected less, even at the five-day stage.

Let's hope most, if not all, stand their ground now.

Newbury Saturday 14:40 - No bet

Funambule Sivola, a 4s chance with the Sportsbook, goes for his third straight win in the race (he has form figures of 1211 here) but you'd have to say he was disappointing at Doncaster nine days ago and he has now dropped to a handicap mark of just 145.

He also carries a 6lb penalty for his win in this race last year, so the 4s is a little bit skinny for me.

Maybe he did himself no favours by taking on Calico up front at Donny, but Dan Skelton's 8yo himself did very well to see him off up the straight and then hang on for second. Calico also gets an entry here (he was taken out of the Betfair Hurdle on Monday to come here) and he is available at 10/111.00 with the Sportsbook.

He may be rated just 143 but at least he comes here in decent nick, and he does have form in deep ground, for all he has been kept largely to a decent surface since the spring of 2022.

I should point out, as I did in an earlier piece on the Betfair Hurdle, that the Newbury ground is currently good, good to soft, in places. But one forecast now has 47mm of rain between and Saturday.

Both rated 162, Edwardstone and Editeur Du Gite are the form (if not in-form) horses in here - they are 2/13.00 and 5/16.00 respectively, though both carry 6lb Grade 1 penalties - but Boothill, a faller behind Editeur Du Gite at Kempton over Christmas, is arguably the more progressive type, though he is no spring chicken as a 9yo.

He is the 6/42.50 favourite with the Sportsbook.

None have an overly-convincing profile to be honest after their most recent efforts, the lowly-rated Calico aside - we haven't seen the 14/115.00 outsider of the field, Amarillo Sky, since he returned lame at Cheltenham in January 2023 - so I'd be inclined to wait to see how bad the weather is and what turns up on the day, and go from there.

Newbury Saturday 14:05 - No bet

The 85k Grade 2 Betfair Denman Chase at 14:05 has attracted five entries, which is more than a little bit grim if truth be told (like Matata, Cloudy Glen was in the race on Monday morning, but connections changed their minds before midday and are presumably holding him back for Haydock on February 17).

Fingers crossed then, the ground doesn't get that bad for star-of-the-show Shishkin, the 2/51.40 favourite, and he gets the green light to run.

His presence is very much needed.

He possesses a quality on his day that few other chasers, here or in Ireland, can match and, while some of his best performances have come on soft ground, he was pulled out on heavy in the Fighting Fifth at Sandown in December.

He ought to be absolutely fine and dandy on soft ground - he has won on officially heavy ground here in 2020 - but that forecast is an undoubted worry (especially with the unhealthy obsession that is Cheltenham driving so many thoughts, and not the here and now), and Timeform never even have him running on going worse than soft.

Shishkin 1280 x 782.png

If he runs (and starts), his only serious form rival is Protektorat, and he has about a half a dozen performances in his locker to suggest he can deal with him. Both carry 6lb Grade 1 penalties, though.

His jockey, Nico De Boinville, was adamant "he was only just getting going" when unseating two out in the King George last time, and the in-running betting agrees that he would have won there.

Protektorat is next in the betting at 3/14.00, with Hitman at 7/18.00, Does He Know at 16/117.00 and Sam Brown at 20/121.00.

Protektorat ran a lot better at Lingfield time and I can see why plenty will see him as a bet at 3s each-way, a quarter the odds, two places. Indeed, I have just seen him at 4/15.00 elsewhere.

But surely no good can come out of such bets, long-term, if you follow.

If conditions do get very funky - that is to say heavy, and 47mm is a lot to land on winter ground - and a real leveller, then maybe the old boy Sam Brown isn't a forlorn hope at 20s after his Warwick veterans' chase win last time.

He obviously should have no business beating the top two but he is six from 13 on soft and heavy, and if it does get very deep then Shishkin may not even rock up.

Granted, if he does, and the ground is no worse than good to soft, then Sam Brown will be 33s-plus on the Betfair Exchange on the day.

However, I have seen worse 20s each-way chances than him (he is actually 25s in a place), that is for sure, with Does He Know and Hitman hard to fancy in their current form.

However, I'll decline the temptation to tip.

Back on Thursday afternoon, or Friday morning. Until then, good luck.

Watch this week's Weighed-In

Now Read Tony Calvin Antepost Tips: Time is right to back Mullins horse at 20/1 for Betfair Hurdle

PROFIT AND LOSS (Nov 1 onwards; 2023-24 NH season)


RETURN: 108.7

P/L: +46.7

ANTE-POST: - 9.5

PROFIT AND LOSS (April 16-Oct 31; 2023 Flat season)


RETURNS: 168.9

P AND L: -33.1

Exchange bets settled at Betfair SP for fairness


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