ITV Races - Tony Calvin

Tony Calvin Antepost Tips: Live Vadream at 14/1 this Saturday

Betfair horse racing tipster Tony Calvin
Tony is backing Vadream in Saturday's Temple Stakes at Haydock

Tony Calvin provides the in-depth antepost preview of Saturday's Temple Stakes at Haydock and recommends backing Vadream while her excellent price lasts...

  • TC's Temple Stakes antepost preview

  • Good firm at Haydock but rain forecast

  • 14/115.00 each-way bet could relish conditions


In effect, there has been no meaningful ante-post market on the only early-closer this weekend, the Group 2 5f Temple Stakes at 13:50 at Haydock.

The only two firms that were still offering a market on Sunday were betting to very defensive margins (understandably so), and indeed one even had Big Evs as their 3s favourite, even though connections had basically ruled him out of the race after he won at York last week (though I appreciate plans change very quickly in horse racing, as we may be about to see with Economics in the Derby).

There is a very lightly-traded Betfair Exchange line, and hopefully this will now perk up after we got the confirmation stage at midday on Monday.

Going is good but rain forecast before Saturday

The ground is currently good to firm, good in places, at Haydock, but the main weather site I use has 56mm of rain - yes, 56mm - coming from late Tuesday into Thursday, so goodness knows what effect that they will have on the ground if only half of that lands.

And I suppose it'll be good to firm by the time the rain starts to come down.

As is always the case, the amounts due vary depending which site you look at, but they all seem to agree Wednesday into Thursday looks pretty brutal (even the BHA site now estimates 22mm).

Maybe as much as 34mm on Wednesday alone, according to the site I use (and more on others like myweather2.com). Friday and Saturday aren't sure to be dry either, with the BBC site having those days down as wet, too.

Still, we will see. Forecasts can change very quickly, but at least the course doesn't have to water.

Haydock Saturday 13:50 - Back Vadream each-way

There were still 22 in the race on Sunday - including Australian sprinter Asfoora, a Group 2 winner (for which she carries a 3lb penalty here) and a Group 1 runner-up to Imperatriz (who has won four Group 1s since) - and we are now down to 13, with no supplementary entries.

We have lost Aesop's Fables, Marshman, Shouldvebeenaring, Significantly, Twilight Calls, Azure Blue, Big Evs, Electric Storm and Givemethebeatboys.

Unsurprisingly, Aesop's Fables and Givemethebeatboys were no-shows for the race, the pair having won and finished second in their respective races at Naas on Sunday.

There endeth the Irish involvement, but I am very surprised the 2022 runner-up, and fast-ground lover, Twilight Calls wasn't confirmed, along with Azure Blue, after a highly encouraging return.

Maybe the forecast put off the former's trainer, Henry Candy (winnerless in 2024) - though if the horse is right, you would have thought they would have seen what the weather did in midweek - but I thought the hardy Azure Blue was worth trying over 5f for the first time.

Anyway, they aren't here, so there is no point wasting any more time or copy on them.

Haydock Flat action 1280x720.jpg

Apparently, the aforementioned Asfoora, the Sportsbook's 10/34.33 favourite, has been here for three weeks, lodging with Amy Murphy, and this is the first part of a trip that will take in Royal Ascot, Goodwood and York, with regular jockey Mitchell Aitken keeping the ride this weekend.

Connections reckon she will be "90 per cent fit" at Haydock - make of that what you will - but it is a guessing game on many fronts with the 5yo mare.

I wouldn't have a clue as to what Australian ground equates, or translates, to in UK terms, but she appears to have done her racing largely on good ground, while also being two from two on soft.

Everyone gets jiggy when an Aussie comes up but she is probably one of the form horses along with Nunthorpe winner Live In The Dream, a 7/24.50 chance.

The latter's connections have also been making noises that he won't be cherry ripe either, at the start of a long season, for all he won first time out last year on March 25 and kept his form remarkably well through a campaign that ended with a close fourth in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint on November 4.

Among those good efforts were a third in this race and, because his Nunthorpe win came on August 25, he misses a 5lb Group 1 penalty here by six days (the penalties kick in after August 31).

I tend to believe that there is a large element of trainers getting their excuses in early with these "will need the run" comments. John Gosden, in particular, loves this angle.

I imagine they'll all be pretty straight enough, even with Royal Ascot around the corner.

Regional cops a 5lb penalty for his Betfair Sprint Cup win in September, but he won first time out last season and he had an impressive course and distance win to his name last year, as well (also won on his debut and first time up in 2021).

But he has to give weight all round and a hefty 16lb to the 3yo fillies. I imagine Haydock is the plan for him but he is still in the Group 2 Greenland Stakes at the Curragh on Saturday (they confirm for that on Tuesday) and he likes a decent surface.

Last year's runner-up Equilateral has claims, even though he may be on the downgrade as a 9yo now. But his stable is in good form and he can often outrun his odds, even though consistency would not be his strong suit. However, he is also in the Cathedral Stakes at Salisbury on Saturday night.

The stable also has Equality in here, and last month's Musselburgh winner wasn't beaten far in the Nunthorpe last season and when third in Group 1 company at the Curragh afterwards. The weather is a big worry for him, though.

Rogue Lightning was actually as short as 5s on Sunday and, even allowing for the odds-defensiveness outlined above, that seemed somewhat stingy, for all he was bought for a cool million by Wathnan Racing after making massive strides last season, culminating in a close fifth in the Abbaye from a high draw.

Actually, looking at his record - and perhaps the layers were more alert than I was as to how the race would cut up - stingy was a touch harsh about a 4yo with only nine runs under his belt. He is a top-priced 6s with the Betfair Sportsbook.

Talking of Twilight Calls' promising return in the Palace House Stakes earlier, we actually had the first six home there for this race on Sunday - Seven Questions led home Vadream, Beautiful Diamond, Twilight Calls, Kerdos and Significantly - and we have only lost the fourth and sixth here.

Given the bunched nature of the finish, you can make a case for all four at their respective prices, but Vadream (admittedly race-fit) ran a screamer there given she loves it soft. Charlie Fellowes will be hoping for the worst possible forecast to materialise for his mare.

Vadream looked the winner there for a time - she traded at 2.021/1 in the run - so I bet everyone was cock-a-hoop with that performance on good ground.

And Timeform did call it good to firm when she was a fair fifth in the Bengough Stakes at Ascot in October, so perhaps she doesn't need it testing.

Mind you, her soft-ground defeat of Live In the Dream in last year's Palace House does more than indicate plenty of dig is most welcome, as her Doncaster win on heavy underlines.

I was tracking the decs and Makarova was a very late confirmation, being put in with a few minutes to go, and, like many in this close-knit ratings race, she has a fair bit to recommend her after her second in France last time. She has good course form, too.

Betfair Haydock.jpg

I think I have at least namechecked all the older horses, so let's get to the 3yos. That age group won this race with Dramatised last year, though the previous scorer was back in 2014. Not too many have tried, though.

Given the way the trainer was talking about Seven Questions - basically he called him little short of a lunatic, even if he couched it in the terms of "he is quirky as he comes" - you'd have to question (no pun intended) whether he could back up that win (which came in first-time cheekpieces) again.

I didn't especially like Palace House third Beautiful Diamond at her price, so that left me with the Andrew Balding pair of Purosangue and Flora Of Bermuda to deal with.

The former is a ground-versatile course winner and he shaped okay over 6f on his return at Ascot. His run quickly flattened out, suggesting he may well have needed it, which is possibly backed up by his late drift on the show.

He would be the more solid of the pair but stablemate Flora Of Bermuda gets all the allowances here as a 3yo filly and it can rain as much as it likes for her. Her best run came on effectively heavy ground at Goodwood last season but she operates on a decent surface.

In short, Vadream and Flora Of Bermuda were my leans if the prices were right, and I got reasonably excited when the first firm up with prices on Monday made the former 20s (and the latter 16s).

I eagerly waited for the Sportsbook prices to land then, and they came up with 14s Vadream and 16s Flora Of Bermuda (from an opening 25s), though there is a big ante-post stumbling block with the latter.

Two, in fact.

Andrew Balding, who won this race with King's Lynn in 2022, doesn't say too much in the press but I found an interview with him in late April, saying he hoped to get Flora Of Bermuda out for the Dante meeting "if not, shortly after", which you can read two ways, I guess.

And, with Balding also having Purosangue in the race, I am a little worried he won't go in two-handed on Saturday.

And, of course, crucially, he could run neither, as they are both in the Group 2 Sandy Lane on the same Haydock card. And Flora Of Bermuda is also in at Salisbury. I couldn't back or tip her as it stands.

Ideally, Vadream would have been an ante-post bet then, as this has been the stated plan for the mare since Newmarket.

I appreciate she has something to find if the form horse Live In The Dream is on his A-game but she is race-fit, in-form and that weather forecast is very encouraging (though we may not get a run for our money if it is badly wrong) and potentially a great leveller.

But the Sportsbook's 14s (she is 20s and 16s in other places) presented me with a dilemma, as she is obviously bigger elsewhere.

And in those circumstances, I nearly always say "no thanks", especially with a lightly-traded Exchange market.

After much deliberation, I decided even the Sportsbook's 14s was far too big. Do what you have to do elsewhere, but I wouldn't lay anywhere near the 14s myself.

In fact, she could easily be in single figures by Thursday morning if that 40mm on Wednesday is only half right - the race could cut up as a result, as there are a few in here who like a decent surface like Regional - so I reckon 14s each-way, three places, is the way to play it.

I think she is a bet at 10s or bigger, as it stands.

Off to Google "how to do a rain dance."

Good luck.


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