ITV Races - Tony Calvin

Wednesday Racing Tips: Tony Calvin's not a-frayed to put up a 16/1 bet at Cheltenham

Betfair Tipster Tony Calvin
Tony has two tips for Wednesday's ITV Racing

We have midweek ITV Racing from Newmarket and Cheltenham with six races being televised live on Wednesday, and our resident tipster Tony Calvin gives his thoughts on them all...

  • Six races on ITV Racing on Wednesday

  • Quantity and quality at Newmarket

  • 7/18.00 and 16/117.00 tips at Cheltenham

The turf Flat season finally kicks into gear this week with the Craven meeting at Newmarket - though we still have Cheltenham on the box on Wednesday and Thursday - and it's the annual guessing game as to which of the trainers have their horses forward and are looking to strike early.

It is perhaps particularly tricky with sprint handicappers as their handlers may already be targeting more valuable prizes later down the line, and plenty may be using the Classic trials as exactly that - a trial, as it says on the tin, and a stepping stone to bigger things - but that is why I have started to include the stable form feature below, in order to at least help form an opinion.

Either way, I think you have to tread carefully when it comes to punting this early in the turf season.

Newmarket - 13:50: No Bet

The first thing to strike you when looking at Newmarket's opening 6f handicap at 13:50 is how little guaranteed early speed there is in the race - again see the pace angles section, below - but at least a fair few of the field have had a recent run.

Rather less surprising is that last year's winner Orazio heads the Betfair Sportsbook's betting at 7/24.50 - they are betting to five places, so there is no surprise that he is around a point bigger win-only on the exchange - especially as the handicapper took a conservative view of his Listed race third, to a brace of 108-rated horses off levels, on his reappearance at Doncaster.

And a midfield draw in 10 could prove a good spot, given that what pace there is seems to be in the race is housed in nine, 13 and 18.

I appreciate he was talked up as a future Group horse after winning at Ascot last May, and went off even shorter than 7/24.50 in the Wokingham and Stewards' Cup, but surely his chance is fully factored into his current odds.

That said, the ground could be coming right for him too, as Monday's rain (5mm) and the forecast could see the going see a touch of good to soft in the description by race-time.

Raatea, drawn four, runs well when fresh and is a plausible 16s poke - he was beaten only a nose and ½ length in this race, off just 1lb lower mark, in 2022 - but two things were off-putting with him. He is a tempting 21.020/1 on the exchange, mind you.

One is I'd have liked to have seen the stable in better form, for all they have had few runners, and the second is whether he has the ability to nail such a competitive handicap as this off a mark of 92 as a 7yo. And this is a deep 20-runner race in which they will be spread across the course, so track position is yet another unknown variable.

I won't tip, but Raatea is probably be my small-stakes dart in the race if pushed though, despite the doubts (if you are pushed for a bet, then no bet is the right recommendation), alongside Wobwobwob at 20s.

Perhaps they will go forward again on the latter, and he has the visor reapplied (he won the Ayr Silver Cup in it last season) after a reappearance run at Doncaster, and he can also boast a first and third in his two starts at this track, Plus I rate his trainer's current form as excellent.

So yes, Raatea and Wobwobwob are my mythical two against the field at prices. By the way, four horses were balloted out at the overnight stage (see below), so make sure you get your money back if you punted those.

Newmarket - 14:25: No Bet

Reading between the lines, and stable tours in recent weeks, it seems like Aidan O'Brien believes Gasper De Lemos is going to need more than the 1m1f of the Feilden Stakes at 14:25 to be seen to maximum effect, so this could be Andre Fabre's Narkez for the taking.

He looks to have been assessed at 98 by the UK handicapper, some way shy of Ambiente Friendly and Native American, but that is surely "finger in the air" stuff as he stormed home from a shorter-priced stablemate on his return at Saint-Cloud and Fabre is in great nick at home.

One thing that did surprise me was that Fabre is only one from nine in the UK in the last five years, and his charge could be seen as a touch skinny at the Sportsbook's 5/23.50 if the UK assessor is correct (and there is some 10/34.33 in the wider marketplace).

And, of course, all of these (and they are all winners) have the ability to step up markedly, given their lightly-raced profiles at two.

Newmarket - 15:00: No Bet

Pick your battles when betting, and the 14:25 is one to decline, as indeed is the Earl Of Sefton Stakes at 15:00, a race in which last year's winner Ottoman Fleet, from an in-form yard, looks to go in again.

I can fully see why the Sportsbook's opening 10/34.33 about Royal Rhyme was taken early on Monday - he is now 11/43.75 - as he is the one horse most likely to take the race apart, notwithstanding the wind op being a potentially positive move for last year's Guineas runner-up Hi Royal.

Connections of Royal Rhyme must have been worried when the ground was on the quick side on Monday morning - all his best form has been soft - but rain was forecast on all three days until race-time, so I imagine they will have a look on Wednesday morning to see if they pull the trigger on their very promising 4yo. They had 4mm on Monday, which turned the ground good.

If it has softened up sufficiently (and he has been a non-runner on good before) for him to take his chance, then he could take some stopping here on his back-end form, which included a fifth in the Group 1 Champion Stakes at Ascot, and clearly he could progress even further at four given this will only be his ninth start.

However, I am unsure about the form of the yard (and this is pretty tight-knit on ratings, too) so it makes sense to wait until you have a better handle on the ground if you are thinking about backing him. The forecast has improved overnight, which wasn't good news for Karl Burke.

Newmarket - 15:35: No Bet

I had a good look at the 1,000 Guineas on Sunday and it struck me how winnable it was. One thing is for sure and that is Dance Sequence will have to win the Nell Gwyn at 15:35 high, wide and handsome if she is going to justify Classic quotes of 4s and 5s.

With stamina apparently a concern of sorts for form rival Matrika (she has done all her racing over 6f), she may well enhance her 1,000 claims, but no way would I be backing her for this at her current odds (even at the industry-best at 1.96 on the exchange).

Mind you, looking at the opposition, I guess I wouldn't be in a rush to lay her either, especially with the Charlie Appleby stable going great guns (UK form figures of 211112 in the last fortnight, as well as Grade 1 and Group 3 wins abroad in that period, and some near misses, too).

Personally, I can't see much of an issue about Matrika staying, but when O'Brien says "we are hoping she will get seven furlongs....we might see if she stays a mile but I wouldn't be sure" there are clearly big doubts in the only camp that matters. And a camp that will have time-based assessments for those doubts.

Over to Cheltenham for a bet, then.

Cheltenham - 14:05: Back Sea Invasion

I have been waiting for blinkers to go on Teddy Blue for a while and they finally are put on him in the 2m4f+ handicap hurdle at 14:05, off a falling handicap mark, but the problem is he has been running like a drain of late, in common with his stablemates. He has just been announced as a non-runner, anyway.

The form of the Gary Moore yard may be about to turn now he had a 18/119.00 winner on the Flat on Monday, but it has been a long time coming.

In contrast, Robbie Llewellyn is having a great time of it of late (and a great season full stop, with a 24% strike), so Titan Discovery has to be respected.

But, for me, this race was pretty much all about one horse, Sea Invasion, and whether I was willing to put three concerns aside.

The most obvious was his Sportsbook price of 5s in an 18-runner handicap.

The second was the recent form of the Chris Gordon yard ever since this horse won, along with stablemate Our Champ, at Plumpton on March 31.

And, thirdly, did going up 7lb for that Plumpton win in a 0-110 (he got in off the ceiling mark of 112) compromise his winning chance in this much classier race?

I was away when he won at Plumpton, having been all over him when he was a market-springer, then a non-runner, at Kempton in February, so I was very surprised he was allowed to go off at 7/24.50 for that lowly contest. Yes, I know hindsight/aftertiming is a wonderful thing etc.

However, maybe that 0-110 was actually a decent race for its grade and it would be foolish to underestimate the merit of his 7-length win there.

The runner-up came into that race on the back of a win, the third was beaten just ½ length previously, and he powered home up the straight.

And let us not forget, he ran Slade Steel to 2 lengths in his only point, after which he was bought for 110,000gns - that's a sexy line for would-be backers and tipsters to reference - so even his revised mark of 119 could still seriously underplay his potential.

In the final analysis, I simply wanted more than 5s to get involved (he is a bit bigger on the exchange) - the stable form I could happily live with if the price was bigger - and I am always happy to walk away if the price isn't right.

If he drifts to 7s on the exchange (currently 6.4) then I will get involved. I may do an update on here if he does, however unlikely that is.

This is all very curious, but just before this column went live, the Sportsbook pushed him out from 5s to 9s in one fell swoop, then back into the current 7/18.00, which is comfortably the biggest price going.

If the price is still available when you read this, obviously take the 7s win-only. But go no lower

Back Sea Invasion, Win only, in 14:05 Cheltenham @ 7/18.00

Bet here

Cheltenham - 14:40: Back Torn And Frayed

Connections of Torn And Frayed must be gutted the 14:40 is a limited handicap, with a bottom weight of 10st 6lb, as he is 5lb wrong as a result. Or rather they are gutted top weight Hang In There stood his ground.

In normal circumstances, I would have definitely given this course and distance winner a spin on decent ground (currently good, good to soft in places) in the expectation that they will revert to the forcing tactics that saw him win so well here two seasons ago, even if there is a fair bit of pace in this, as you can see below.

But the more I looked, the more I was willing to look beyond that big negative for this 10yo.

He actually ran well on ground too soft when a staying-on 10th from miles off the pace in the Plate at the Festival last time.

In addition, I suppose he is effectively on the same mark as when winning by 6 lengths on this New course here in January 2022, with a 7lb claimer on (I've no idea if he is value for that claim), and he is 16s with the Sportsbook (four places) and 18.017/1 on the exchange.

I faffed about again before finally coming to a decision. But this time, unlike Sea Invasion, it was a positive.

Back him each way at 16/117.00 with the Sportsbook, who are paying four places. The 16s isn't far off the current exchange price of 18.017/1, never a bad sign.

Back Torn And Frayed, E/W 4 Places, in 14:40 Cheltenham @ 16/117.00

Bet here

This is the first time this season he looks like getting decent ground, over his best trip and at his favoured track. All of his best efforts have come over 2m4f at Cheltenham on good or good to soft ground.

There is some rain around in the next 24 hours, admittedly not a lot (maybe 4mm or so), so I was very surprised, and disappointed, to see the course are "watering to maintain good".

I hope that doesn't backfire on them - and, more importantly, on my small-stakes bet.

But, as I was reminded again over the weekend, with some bad news about a friend's health, you never know what life is going to throw at you today or tomorrow, so let's rise above the minor concerns like a bit of water being thrown on grass.

Take care.


Going: Good (after 5mm on Monday)

Going stick readings: 7.3 (as at 6.30am on Tuesday)

Weather forecast: 1.1mm Tuesday; 2mm Wednesday

Pace angles on ITV races

1.50pm: Abate (drawn in 13), Dark Thirty (9), Just A Spark? (18), Wobwobwob (5)?

2.25pm: Ambiente Friendly, Caviar Heights, Narkez (prominent), Gasper De Lemos (prom), El Cordobes (prom), Whip Cracker (prom)

3pm: Embesto (prom), Hi Royal(prom), Regal Reality (prom), Blanchland?, Claymore?

3.35pm: Lexington Belle, Spiritual?, Matrika?, Queen Of Zafeen (prom), Born To Rock, Gushing Gold (prom), Heritage House?

Balloted out (ante-post punters entitled to money back)

1.50pm: Badri, Fools Rush In, Leap Abroad, Dream For Gold

First-time headgear stats

Jane Chapple-Hyam blinkers 3-38 (since 2009)

James Fanshawe hood 12-90 (2010)

James Owen hood 3-8 (2022)

John Gosden blinkers 34-212 (2009)

John and Thady blinkers 8-50 (2021)

Form of trainers with runners in all Wednesday ITV races

(limited evidence to go on for Flat - done before Tuesday's racing)

Excellent: Richard Hughes, Charlie Appleby. Muir & Grassick, Robbie Llewellyn, Adrian Keatley

Good: Jane Chapple-Hyam, Andre Fabre, Alice Haynes, John & Thady Gosden, Michael Bell, James Owen, Dominic Ffrench Davis, Gay Kelleway (not many runners but started 2024 well), Grant Tuer, Ralph Beckett, Michael and David Easterby, Greenall & Guerriero, Paul Nicholls, Ben Pauling, Aidan O'Brien

Fair: Andrew Balding, George Boughey (winner on Monday), Paul & Oliver Cole, Philip McBride, Charlie Johnston, Nicky Henderson, Fergal O'Brien, Martin Keighley, Nigel Twiston-Davies, Dan Skelton, Keiran Burke, Emma Lavelle, Gavin Cromwell, Harry Fry, Ed Walker (two winners at Windsor on Monday), James Fanshawe

Moderate: Richard Fahey (despite a [16/1 winner), Karl Burke (though borderline undecided as recent winners), William Haggas (for him, though a winner at Kempton on Monday helped), Charles Hills, Julie Camacho (very few runners though, so maybe harsh assessment), Mick Appleby, Ben Case, Chris Gordon, Donald McCain, Joe Tizzard, Venetia Williams

Undecided: Daniel & Claire Kubler (winner at Kempton on Monday), Roger Varian, Kevn Ryan, Brian Meehan (only four runners in 2024), Clive Cox, Tom Dascombe (very few runners), Sir Michael Stoute (only two runners in 2024), Richard Hannon, Hugo Palmer (couple of recent winners), Tom Ward (despite being winnerless in 2024), Roger Teal, David O'Meara (though arguably more moderate), Michael Dods, Rod Millman, Lucy Wadham, Tim Vaughan (not many runners; recent winner), Charlie Longsdon (starting to run a bit better), Adrian Nicholls (though had a recent winner)

Coming into form?: Kevin Philppart De Foy

Much needed recent winner: Gary Moore broke a very bad spell with an 18/1 winner at Windsor on Monday


(for the two ITV races; trainer form included above)

Going: Good, good to soft in places despite 4mm yesterday

Forecast: 2.4mm rain on Tuesday; 1.5mm Wednesday

Watering: They are "watering to maintain good"

No going stick available

Pace angles

2.05pm: Spring Note, Sea Invasion, Whatsupwithyou, Lord Of Cheshire

2.40pm: Sail Away?, Il Ridoto?, Idalko Bihoue, Scarface?, Gemirande, Torn And Frayed?, Our Jet, Presentandcounting

First-time headgear stats

Gary Moore blinkers 24-174 (2009)

Ben Case cheekpieces 3-21 (2017)

Now read Ryan Moore on his Wednesday rides here.

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