ITV Races - Tony Calvin

Wednesday Racing Tips: Tony Calvin thinks 40/1 a pretty good price for Blue Prince

Betfair horse racing tipster
TC is backing Blue Prince each-way at 40/1

Tony Calvin previews the York card on the first day of the Dante Festival and recommends a bet on a course winner...

  • TC's in-depth preview of Wednesday's ITV racing

  • 40/141.00 course winner is the one to back at York

  • 33/134.00 Percey Shelley may be worth a nibble


It's very much a case of weather watch at York for the next 24 hours. And Wednesday's ITV races were tricky enough without factoring in the expected rainfall, the amounts of which vary from site to site.

It was good to firm, good in places, as at 6.14am on Tuesday, but they could get 4mm throughout the day, and a bit more from mid-morning on Wednesday (maybe 2mm) - the forecast has improved overnight, but it still looks set to drizzle all day, with the rain having started at 7.50am - so we could be looking at some ease in the ground.

I am working on the basis of good, good to soft in places, by race-time, and I don't think that will inconvenience too many, if so.

York 14:15 - No bet

The opening 1m3f188yd handicap at 14:15 is exceptionally trappy though of course the claims of impressive last-time-out winners Flash Bardot and Crystal Delight are clear.

As is the case for the underpriced pair of Klondike and Marhaba The Champ, unbeaten at York, at 10/34.33 and 7/24.50 respectively. Of course, they can be given big chances - no doubt the former's price is skewed by his trainer's recent record in the race - but their odds more than reflect that.

Crystal Delight bolted up when making all at Epsom on his first start for Harry Eustace but he is 9lb higher here and highly unlikely to get an uncontested lead again.

Flash Bardot went up 8lb for her Doncaster win last month, and the Sportsbook immediately wanted her onside at 8s on Monday (she was 12s and 11s elsewhere), maybe clocking the rain that was due. She handles good but her big recent progression has come on soft and heavy.

I like to take in all angles when assessing a race, dismissing none, and Percey Shelley at 33/134.00 with the Sportsbook is maybe not the no-hoper his recent form suggests he is.

He finished last in first-time cheekpieces at Newmarket last time but that at least meant he has now come down 10lb in four starts for David O'Meara since coming over from France. And the trainer is in very good form considering the sheer number of horses he runs (see below).

Percey Shelley is undoubtedly well treated on his French 2022 form (he was Listed-placed) and he didn't run badly over 1m2f on soft ground at Doncaster two starts ago.

Maybe he needs a bit of dig (which he may well get here), and another coincidence intrigued me. He runs in a first-time visor and his dam actually won when that initial headgear was applied on her bonce (both of her wins came in a visor).

It's little more than a gut feel, so I won't put him up here, but I think he could be worth a tiny nibble at that 33s if you are so minded, and especially so if they get a lot of rain. The Sportsbook are paying four places.

By the way, for the sake of balance, O'Meara is 24-230 with the visor since 2010. Average.

York 14:45 - No bet

I had the pace (see map below) coming from stalls 1, 2, 8, 15, 16 and 19, so that gave little clues about where you want to be drawn in the 6f handicap at 14:45.

In short, it is your typical racing roulette of a race, with 22 stalls replacing the 37 red, black and green boxes.

It was amusing to see Orazio stuck in as favourite for this alongside Summerghand and Lethal Levi, and initially as short as 13/27.50 with the Sportsbook, given he is on a very disappointing run. He is now 8/19.00 and that may tempt plenty.

You could argue that would still seem very defensive given the handicapper didn't even drop him 1lb for his Newmarket run last time (he beat one home), though in the horse's defence the vet did note he was moving poorly behind afterwards - and he didn't get off to the best of starts, but I wouldn't overplay that, for all it may be a contributing factor to the post-race vet check - and we know that connections rate him far better than his current mark of 100.

And the form of the Charlie Hills stable (see below) has picked up massively of late, with seven winners since May 4, including two at 16s and one at 28s. I won't be falling over if he wins.

And if he can go off at 7/24.50 for a Wokingham, and 10/34.33 for a Stewards' Cup, who knows what price he could go off here?

Betfair York.jpg

I stuck up Wobwobwob for the 7f handicap at Ascot on Saturday, but he got taken out of the race as he was running a temperature (I assumed if he was going to be a non-runner, it would have been because of the quick ground), and he is another who will want the rain to arrive in the expected amounts. And if even more than predicted, so much the better.

We know he can operate effectively at 6f - he stays 7f and beyond but this is probably his optimum given a strongly-run race - and go and take a look at his Thirsk win last time.

He did superbly to win there, given the trouble he had to overcome, and he would have obliged with another 7lb on his back, let alone the 4lb he went up for it, with a smoother passage.

And he could - I stress, could - be fairly drawn in 21, looking at the speed map.

But the Sportsbook's 14s is probably pretty much his true price here when you look at the sheer depth of the race.

No-one would be shocked if any of the 22 won this, or if their fancy finished seventh or worse (the Sportsbook are paying six places), but Wobwobwob is the bet, each-way with those six places, in the race if there is one. He is 14s across the board, so you are getting the best price and healthy place terms.

Life, let alone betting, isn't meant to be this hard.

York 15:15 - No bet

Then along came the 15-runner 6f Group 2 at 15:15, a race in which just 11lb separates the field at the weights, to hammer home the difficulty.

The 117-rated Art Power carries a 5lb penalty, and the lowest-rated (on 105) is the rapid improver Fivethousandtoone, whose all-weather win last time was franked by the runner-up scoring at Newcastle on Sunday night.

What a minefield, this is. I have the potential pace in here from 1, 3, 9, 10 and 12 so, again, not a fat heap of help on that score. Soz.

I could waffle on for about 500 words giving you the pros and cons about my main eight fancies in the race (or is it nine?), but it would simply end up at the inevitable conclusion of no bet, even if the Sportsbook are paying four places.

I will say 14s poke Khaadem interested me the most (he opened at 18s in a place on Monday) simply because of the fact that he is the best horse in here at the weights (rated 116, no penalty), albeit marginally, and I referenced the good form of the Hills stable earlier.

He has twice run respectably in Nunthorpes over 5f here, and this 6f is more his trip. And Jamie Spencer will be looking to land him late from stall 13, just as he did when the horse sprang an 80/181.00 shock in the Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot last year.

If you can get 16s+ on the Exchange, he'd be my idea of the win-only bet in the race - he is 16s, fixed odds, in a few places - but who knows how straight he will be, and the less rain, the better for him, too.

York 15:45 - No bet

Fillies' Mile fourth Classical Song has the Group 1 form but I don't think many people would be in much doubt as to who is the best horse in the Musidora at 15:45 (as it stands anyway) after seeing Friendly Soul beat the well-regarded Kalpana in the Pretty Polly at Newmarket earlier in the month.

There were a few shell-shocked faces when the runner-up couldn't reel her in, not least those who smashed the second into 4/61.67 from an opening 15/82.88 across the board, and they pulled 12 lengths clear of the third.

I get that Newmarket can throw up strange and flattering results, but the time appeared to back up the visuals, and I can fully see why the Sportsbook wanted to duck Friendly Soul at 10/111.91, with 11/102.11 elsewhere.

They want to duck her even more now, as they trimmed her into 4/51.80.

But betting and tipping at those odds is certainly not my MO, and the most "exposed" filly in here has only raced four times, so one could easily improve and stick it up to her.

Six of the seven are winners, and the maiden, Mayfair (ridden by Betfair ambassador Ryan Moore), is expected to make significant improvement now she moves up in trip from 7f.

It sounds like connections expect a big run if the ground remains decent but on what she has achieved so far (she is rated just 87) the current 13/27.50 is no more than fair.

Mind you, it could well be shades of the 2021 winner of this race, Snowfall, who was stepping up from 1m when easily winning (when rated just 90), en route to a 16-length Oaks win.

We shall see.

York 16:15 - Back Blue Prince

Normally, I have admitted defeat even before looking at 3yo handicaps at this time of the year, so I decided to get my head down and go into overdrive on the video front trying to find a bet in the 15-runner 7f contest at 16:15.

All of the 15 are winners, and I came down on the side of the most exposed of them all.

Back Blue Prince at 40/141.00 each-way, four places, with the Sportsbook.

He is the least sexy in here, having raced 16 times, up against three unbeaten rivals and a shedload more improvers besides - think Newcastle's Peter Beardsley (I couldn't think of an ugly player who played in blue, maybe Peter Reid) standing next to Lawrence Of Arabia's O'Toole, a stunning specimen in this prime - but handsome is as handsome does, as Forrest reminded us.

Or a variation of that theme anyway.

Actually, it was stupid is as stupid does, which may be apt here but I am happy to take a swing at 40s, nevertheless.

I have no idea whether the first-time hood will help the horse, and that really doesn't factor into my argument, though he has been a bit keen and tricky on occasions - just as well as the trainer is 2-39 since 2012 with this switch - but David Evans has his string in decent nick, with another 9/110.00 winner on Monday evening, and I like the angle of him stepping up to 7f again.

I think he will improve for it. Indeed, wants it.

Some may have dropped him down to 5f after his recent runs but I reckon he has shaped okay on his last two starts, the most recent coming in Group 3 company, and he was a strong-finishing third to Fire Demon over 6f before that at Newcastle from off the pace.

Fire Demon is 7/24.50 in here - he is one of the "lookers" along with Elmonjed, but it's a big no thanks at their current prices - but the selection is 7lb better off for 2 ¼ lengths and is over 10 times the price.

And Blue Prince's only previous run at 7f saw him stick on plenty well enough at Newmarket on soft ground last October, his final start for Richard Fahey.

He is a course winner and, if he can settle in behind possible pace-setters in one and two, then he could prove well drawn to strike late from trap four.

Come on Beardo.

The horse will probably be a lot bigger win-only on the Exchange on the day. If he does, I will back him there, too.

Ffos Las 14:30 - No bet

Fair play to ITV for continuing to give the "lesser" racecourses their day in the sun, and the 0-115 handicap hurdle at Ffos Las at 14:30 isn't actually a bad race.

It is currently soft, good to soft in places there after 16.6mm on Monday but it doesn't look too bad from hereon in. The BHA site says maybe another 3mm today, but other sites vary.

There are three possible front-runners in the race but I strongly suspect Totterdown will win that particular battle. You have to think he is still well-treated after being raised 5lb for his Huntingdon win last time, albeit that came in a small field in which two of his four rivals pulled up.

Any more than 5lb and he wouldn't have been eligible for this handicap - he gets into this 0-115 off the ceiling mark of 117 - and the horse he beat pointless at Huntingdon is now 8lb higher after winning, and running well in defeat, subsequently.

His back-class clearly makes him of obvious interest too and, while he is a 13yo and hardly the most consistent - and the stable is not exactly firing, either - Monday's rain is a big plus to him and he could kick these out of the way if on a going day. He has also carried big weights to victory before.

So, again, it all came down to the price, given the above negatives, not least his age and this being a competitive race for the grade. He has to give nine years to the 4yo Manuelito, as well as 10lb.

With that in mind, I was expecting possible double-digit quotes - to be honest, I didn't know how the layers would play it early doors - and the first firm up went 11s (the pair up both went 10s, but I imagine there was a fair degree of copying there).

I was tempted but, in the final analysis, I don't really want to be playing in 0-115 handicaps at Ffos Las as the Flat season cranks into top gear.

Or, more pertinently, I decided that trading is the way to go with him here, in a back-to-lay scenario, and that doesn't really lend itself to a neat tip in a column.

Let's stick with the one York play. Good luck.


Going and weather

York: Good to firm, good in places (4mm rain Tuesday; 3mm Wednesday - amounts vary from site to site)

Ffos Las: Soft, good to soft in places (1mm Tuesday; 1mm Wednesday)

First time headgear

Ed Bethell cheekpieces 3-32 (since 2021)

David O'Meara visor 24-230 (2010)

David Evans hood 2-39 (2012)

Mark Walford hood 0-6 (2014)

Pace maps

2.15pm York: Westerton?, Crystal Delight, Chillingham (prominent), Island Brave, Two Brothers, Oneforthegutter

2.30pm Ffos Las: Totterdown, Bucephalus, Now Or Never?, John Betjeman

2.45pm York: Hispanic, Lethal Levi, Hyperfocus, Manila Scouse, Abate, Dakota Gold

3.15pm York: Art Power, Cold Case, Diligent Harry, Washington Heights, Swingalong

3.45pm York: Francophone?, Mayfair? , Secret Satire

4.15pm York: Mortlake?, Fire Demon, Respectful, Mismerald, Ribble Radiant

Balloted out (money back for ante-post punters)

2.45pm York: International Girl, Roach Power, Conservationist

5.20pm York: Composite; Sea Master

Trainer form

For all with entries in Wednesday's ITV races (does not include Tuesday's results):

Excellent: David O'Meara (rarely seen him in better form, given the number of horses he runs)

Good: Neil Mulholland, Mark Gillard, Adrian Keatley, Aidan O'Brien, Richard Hannon (pretty good anyway, given he is a numbers trainer), Ed Walker, David Evans, Easterbys, Andrew Balding (has been very good for a while), Charlie Hills, Jack Channon

Fair: Adam West, Evan Williams, Christian Williams, William Haggas, Ian Williams, Kevin Ryan, Harry Eustace (though winnerless), Ed Bethell, Ralph Beckett (beginning to hit stride in the main, with another winner on Monday), Ben Haslam (though only one winner recently), David Simcock (though nearer moderate perhaps), Tim Easterby (fair/moderate), Karl Burke, Michael Dods, Clive Cox, Jane Chapple-Hyam, Julie Camacho, Mick Appleby (borderline moderate), Quinns (maybe more moderate), Paul Midgeley (Catterick winner on Monday), Richard Fahey (probably more good), Nigel Tinkler (not many winners but a lot have been going well), Andrew Martin (not many runners), Gosdens (tailing off a bit)

Moderate: Richard Phillips, Venetia Williams (though a 14-1 winner), Jamie Snowden, David Pipe, Bowens (but improving of late), Debra Hamer (but only one runner, to be fair), Kevin Frost (though a 5-2 winner last week), Adrian Nicholls, Micky Hammond (though a winner at Catterick on Monday), Philip Kirby, Alan King, Heather Main


Now read Ryan Moore: Spycatcher has chance to get us off to winning start at York


Recommended bets

PROFIT AND LOSS

2024 Flat season (day-of-race; Apr 26 onwards)

STAKED: 22

RETURN: 30.2

P AND L: +8.2

2023-24 NH season (Nov 1-Apr 25)

STAKED: 127

RETURN: 143.4

P/L: +16.4

April 16-Oct 31; 2023 Flat season

STAKED: 202

RETURNS: 168.9

P AND L: -33.1

March 26 2022 -April 15 2023

Staked: 436

Returns: 643.6

P/L: +207.6

April 14 2021 to March 25 2022:

P/L: + 183.1

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