ITV Races - Tony Calvin

Tony Calvin Antepost Tips: Constitution Hill confusion fuels Betfair Fighting Fifth market chaos

Betfair tipster Tony Calvin

With the markets for Betfair-sponsored Grade 1 races at Sandown this Saturday in flux Tony Calvin cannot recommend a bet four days out but he can tell you what to look out for as the weekend approaches...


I was very surprised that the Sportsbook (and others) priced up Sandown's Betfair Fighting Fifth on Monday afternoon, as the odds-compilers (and punters) are on a hiding to nothing with Constitution Hill's participation up in the air in the rescheduled contest at 13:15.

Sandown Saturday 13:15 - No bet

It sounds like connections don't want to run him on very testing ground but it is already soft, heavy in places, on the Sandown hurdles track and the main weather site I use has another 16mm landing from Thursday onwards (and there is rain around in the area as I write this).

I would make him firmly odds-against to run on the back of that forecast, with the trainer making noises about waiting for the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton. The uncertainty is mirrored in the Exchange market which sees him currently trading at 2.546/4 as this column goes live.

In fact, it is that price that totally drives my thinking, funnily enough. At one stage on Tuesday afternoon he wasn't even favourite on the exchange, albeit one guided by small sums.

His odds there have fluctuated between 1.42/5 and 5.04/1, so it's a mass of confusion, though his fixed-odds price actually shortened from 1/21.50 to 1/31.33 on Monday before settling (if that is the right word) at 8/151.53.

I couldn't dream of betting or tipping in either market, as it stands.

Only trainer Nicky Henderson and owner Michael Buckley could do that with any confidence, and they could change their own minds at any moment.

And the fact the owner apparently said his horse is an "intended runner" on Tuesday morning is not borne out by the current Exchange price one iota.

The Sportsbook have priced up all nine Saturday ITV races, so we have plenty else to get stuck into, though I dealt with the Betfair Tingle Creek at 15:00 in a column on Monday and nothing has changed there price-wise since. I do think the Sportsbook's 9/25.50 about Captain Guinness is fair, though.

Sandown Saturday 13:50 - No bet

The Grade 1 1m7f44yd Betfair Henry VII Novices' Chase at 13:50 has attracted seven entries and, with our horses priced up between 7/42.75 and 3/14.00, there isn't much of an angle here.

If you are betting on the race then be aware that Petit Tonnerre and Pozo Emery, 9s and 125s respectively, are also in a Beginners' Chase at Aintree on Saturday.

Sandown Saturday 14:25 - No bet

The 17-strong 1m7f216yd Rachael Blackmore Serial Winners Fund Handicap Hurdle at 14:25 is also tightly-priced, with eight horses on offer at 8/19.00 and below, with each terms of 1, 2, 3.

Impose Toi went up 10lb for his Cheltenham win but he still strikes as a handicapper with a lot more to give - that commanding victory also came in a good time - so he probably deserves to head the betting at 3/14.00 given his profile.

Whether connections will want to run him on heavy ground on Sandown's notoriously deep hurdles track is another matter. And Henderson also has the 5/16.00 second favourite in here.

Double-entered horses in this handicap are Langer Dan, Red Rookie, Thereisnodoubt, Arqoob, Bucksy Des Epeires and Chance A Tune, while some of these (including Impose Toi) have the option of waiting for the valuable Betfair Exchange Trophy at Ascot on December 23.

Sandown Saturday 15:35 - No bet

The other ITV race is the 3m4f+ Betfair Exchange London National at 15:35 and the double-entered horses here are Rapper, Moroder, Fortescue, Certainly Red, Truckers Lodge, Boldmere, Cyclop, Broken Halo and Planned Paradise.

That is nine of the 14 entries.

Perhaps that is unsurprising when we have the Becher at Aintree this weekend, along with the Welsh National Trial at Chepstow and the Scottish Borders National at Kelso, for the staying handicap chasers.

That leaves just five entries of interest to me then - City Chief, Beauport, Fontaine Collonges, Manofthepeople and Coeur Serein - but unfortunately the Sportsbook are fully alive to the potential shape of this race.

City Chief is their 11/43.75 favourite, with Beauport and Fontaine Collonges next in at 4s, with Manofthepeople 10s and Coeur Serein at 25s. The latter is exceptionally well handicapped now, but he has obviously shown very little of late to have dropped to a mark of just 126. A good look at the replays of his performances this season give you very little encouragement.

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Fontaine Collonges appeals most, given he has dropped to a mark of 133 and has a very good reappearance record. But 4/15.00 is tight enough ante-post, even with the race set to cut up badly.

The going on Aintree's National and hurdles courses is soft, good to soft, in places and the reverse is true on the chase track. After 13mm of rain through Monday, and another 6.4mm already today, I'd be working on the basis that it is deeper than the official description.

And they could get another 24mm before race-time on Saturday.

Surely, it'll be nigh on heavy there at the weekend.

Aintree Saturday 14:05 - No bet

The complexion of the Becher at 14:05 will change dramatically if Gordon Elliott decides not to bring over his Troytown winner Coko Beach, as that one heads the weights at 12s, and the next horses down are on just 10st 13lb.

And I suppose there is a very fair chance Elliott only entered him to see how the UK handicapper re-assessed him after the Navan win last month. He would race off 162 at Aintree this weekend, against his Irish mark of 161.

His presence means six of the 17 entries are currently out of the weights, including the 11/26.50 second favourite Percussion, who is 6lb wrong.

I can obviously see the case for last year's third (to Ashtown Lad) Percussion but at 11/26.50 he is already priced up as though Coko Beach won't be confirmed on Thursday - a fair assumption, I grant you - and the weights will go up.

Nothing appealed at the prices.

Aintree Saturday 14:40 - No bet

There are four ITV races at Aintree, starting off with the 2m3f200yd handicap chase at 13:30. But I reckon most, if not all of these, will be bigger prices on the day, with three horses at 7/24.50 and shorter, and eight in single figures.

The Listed juvenile hurdle at 14:40 looks a very tricky race - be aware a few in here are double-entered - but a left-field selection would be Knight Of Allen at 20/121.00 with the Sportsbook.

And that is purely on the basis of the price he went off on his debut in a much stronger Grade 2 at Cheltenham.

Now, that was a complete write-off as he got carried out at the first but he went off at 22/123.00 there - and at 27.48 at Betfair SP - against much classier horses than he probably meets here, most obviously the winner Burdett Road, the current Triumph Hurdle favourite.

So on that basis alone I wouldn't offer him at 20s here, and he is also a half-brother to the stable's fair 2m4f handicap chaser Galahad Quest and the yard has won with two of its last three runners, including a juvenile hurdler at Kempton.

The problem I have is that the price would go very quickly if I tipped him, and I would not want to go any lower than 20/121.00 given the precarious nature of the case (I don't think I have made a looser argument for backing a horse). But I wouldn't put anyone off having a speculative tenner win-only at 20s if you can get it.

I will, if I can.

Aintree Saturday 15:15 - No bet

The 2m4f handicap hurdle at 15:15 rounds off the terrestrial action and, of the 18 entries, the following are double-entered: Langer Dan, Benson, Sholokjack, Rafferty's Return, Vicki Vale, Voix Du Reve, Largy Shark, Bucksy Des Epeires, Ballycoose and Chance A Tune.

A good betting shape to the ante-post contest then, though unfortunately I found it hard to get away from Greatwood fourth Sonigino, as he will appreciate the step up in trip and handles heavy ground. He also boasts good course form. A lot to like.

The unfortunate part is that he is just 7/24.50 and he may be that price and bigger on the day if the field does hold up to any significant degree.

If you wanted an alternative then I was going to suggest Bashers Reflection, as he was very impressive at Wetherby last time, and a 7lb rise could be bridgeable. But he was cut from 8s to 6s just before this went live, and he probably doesn't want to be hitting the front too soon here, as he idles and may not relish a battle in this ground.

So no official tip as such, but that 20/121.00 about Knight Of Allen in the 14:40 at Aintree could be worth the tiniest of investments if the price is still there when you read this.

Back on Friday morning probably, but possibly Thursday afternoon.

Good luck.


Read Tony Calvin Antepost Tips: Captain Guinness can stick it to Jonbon in Betfair Tingle Creek

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

STAKED: 18

RETURN: 22

P/L: +4

ANTE-POST (FROM Nov 1; 2023-24 NH Season)

STAKED: 9

RETURN: 0

P/L: -9

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

STAKED: 202

RETURNS: 168.9

P AND L: -33.1

ANTE-POST: -24

Exchange bets settled at Betfair SP for fairness

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Prices quoted in copy are correct at time of publication but liable to change.