ITV Races - Tony Calvin

Tony Calvin Antepost Tips: Epatante aims for Betfair Fighting Fifth hat-trick

Betfair tipster Tony Calvin
TC will be back with another antepost preview on Tuesday

Tony Calvin sets the scene for this Saturday's Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle in which Epatante and Constitution Hill may go head to head...

  • TC's early view on Saturday's Betfair Fighting Fifth

  • Epatante aiming to win third in a row

  • Constitution Hill should be favourite if he runs

  • Not So Sleepy will be popular each-way pick

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Irrigation and the ground was one blisteringly-hot topic over the weekend. Now Newbury are quickly out of the blocks by stating they "will continue to water through the week" for their two-day fixture starting on Friday, even in the face of what looks like a pretty wet forecast.

"Continue" suggests they have been watering already - how much is anyone's guess - but I imagine we will see all clerks of the courses aim for no quicker than good to soft now after last week's shenanigans (officially or not), and Newbury are starting the week on good ground.

Horses that like quick ground need not apply for the foreseeable future, one senses after Ascot-gate.

Mind you, Newbury still have got only 19 entries at the five-day stage for the Coral Gold Cup on Saturday, a race in which there could have been a maximum 24-runner field on the day, and where there is over 142k on offer for the winner.

Lean, lean times.

Henderson pair go head to head in Betfair Fighting Fifth

Newcastle should be okay to allow nature to take its course for Saturday's Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle meeting as the going there is currently soft (good to soft in places) after 79mm in the last six days and there is rain forecast for much of the week.

Not a lot, but drying conditions are certainly not anticipated. Famous last words and all that.

Of course, the big story of the headline race at Newcastle is whether stablemates Epatante and Constitution Hill will be allowed to face off.

There were 12 in the race before Monday's latest confirmation stage, and we are down to six, which include the aforementioned Nicky Henderson pair, though we have lost the likes of Knappers Hill.

Epatante Fighting Fith 1290 x 751.png

Rather like the Betfair Chase, this Grade 1 hurdle never attracts a big field, so that number shouldn't surprise us.

Disappoint us perhaps, but not surprise us. There are simply not the horses to service the racing calendar, be it handicappers or Graded horses.

Epatante targetting Fighting third

Epatante is going for a third straight win in the race after successes at 8/11 and 11/8 - though she had to share the spoils with fellow dead-heater Not So Sleepy last season - but she will be the firm outsider of two if a Seven Barrows match-up materialises.

Incidentally the last traded prices on the horses when the ante-post market was suspended on Monday morning were 2.77/4 Constitution Hill and 3.02/1 Epatante, although those positions have switched now after it has re-opened.

'If' is the most expensive word in the betting dictionary and is it also the most perilous for bookmakers looking to price up a race, so I don't envy any odds-compilers here.

Constitution Hill right 1280.jpg

The Betfair Sportsbook were the first firm up on Monday afternoon with an opening 8/11 Epatante plays 5/4 Constitution Hill.

They are followed by Pied Piper at 7/2, my old mucker Not So Sleepy at 9/2, Tommy's Oscar at 8/1 and Voix De Reve at 100s.

If Constitution Hill runs on Saturday, you will probably be lucky to better 1/2, but of course the layers - and punters - have to factor in the chance of him not running from an ante-post perspective, hence the current odds.

Popular each-way pick after Cesarewitch performance

I had to double check but the Sportsbook are offering three places, a fifth the odds, in the six-runner heat, so I imagine Not So Sleepy (who will surely line up, health-permitting, and comes here after a cracking third in the Cesarewitch) will be ridiculously popular at their 9/2 each-way as a result.

A post-publication update: it has just been changed to ¼ the odds, two places, so please take note. Apologies for the confusion.

I'll be back tomorrow with a heftier ante-post piece on the weekend racing, but I thought I'd get an early scene-setter out there.

See you soon.

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