Two from Tony Calvin in Cheltenham’s Gold Cup Chase

I fancied a fair few last weekend – six to be precise and all were beaten, agonisingly so in the shape of the NAP, Deise Aba – but it is a very different story seven days on, as I found attractive bets very hard to come by on Saturday.

But let’s hope the race that I have focused on as my sole betting heat can net us a winning return.

Tipping and punting should be viewed as a long-term pursuit, which is why everyone should monitor their profit and loss and publish it if they are a public (for the want of a better description) figure.

And the reason why it is so important to record and publish that P&L is that it keeps you honest, and less prone to put up, or back, frivolous selections for the sake of an interest.

I have very few rules in my life, but one is never tipping a horse to others that I have no intention of backing myself – I will also quite happily file an article with no bet attached, as I did on Tuesday – and I found it very hard to eke out a punt this weekend.

One race has caught my eye

Enough of the pious chat though, and I am putting up a pair of selections in the Racing Post Gold Cup at 13:50, both of which have been given great chances by the handicapper.

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I will start with the shorter-priced, Siruh Du Lac, who is a very fair price at 18.017/1 or bigger.

The obvious downside to his chances are the fact that he hasn’t shown any solid, completed form since March 2019 and this forward-goer will have plenty attention on the front end should Tom Scudamore look to revisit the tactics that saw the horse win at the Cheltenham Festival two years ago, off just a 2lb lower mark than this, and over this track and trip in a valuable handicap prior to that success (when trained by Nick Williams).

He hasn’t enjoyed much luck or any success since, but he was still just in front when taking a pearler 2 out in the Plate at the Festival in 2020 and a blow-out in a novice hurdle here in October was an obvious stepping stone back into chase company.

In an interview after that pipe-opener, David Pipe even mentioned the King George (and he is still, rather optimistically, in that Grade 1) but a mark of 143, some 7lb lower than when falling in the above race, has to be exploited first and this looks an ideal opportunity to do so.

The competition for the lead is an obvious negative but the fact that Cheltenham has got less rain than expected is in his favour, and a further positive to his course form and handicap mark, and 16/1 or so looks fair.

Strongest play is the larger price

He is over twice the price, but the one I actually fancy more is Deyrann De Carjac at 34.033/1 or bigger.

How four firms made him 50/1 immediately after the declarations at 10am on Thursday puzzled me. I would still make him a bet at 28/1 and upwards, but if you want to take a set price as of now the Betfair Sportsbook are offering those odds.

Go back to his 2019/20 campaign, and this is one well handicapped horse.

A Huntingdon defeat of Pym, a placed Newbury run behind Champ and a 2 length third to Midnight Shadow off levels here saw him rated 146 at his peak, but he is down to 133 now, and connections would have been delighted that the ground is currently good (good to soft in places), though they may get another 5mm or so. Hopefully, not much more, as he has a marked preference for decent going.

The handicapper is dropping horses far more quickly this season and that new assessor MO saw the selection eased 4lb for his perfectly respectable 11TH, beaten just over 9 lengths, in the Paddy Power on his return.

I get the impression that Alan King would have liked to have got a run into him before then, and he certainly shaped well there, getting a second wind up the straight to be never nearer than at the line.

There is bundles of potential pace in here, which should suit him ideally – hopefully they go too hard, as sometimes they don’t come back here – and no way should he have been the 50/1 outsider of the field with the Betfair Sportsbook, and the others, as he was early on Thursday afternoon. The 50s and 40s was an insult to his claims. Well, if not an insult, it underplayed his chances.

I can’t see any angle at all into the six-runner Albert Bartlett trial at 14:25, and the same is true of International Hurdle at 15:00, which is one shy of giving each-way backers three places to go at.

Song For Someone clearly ran a blinder when failing by just 3 ¼ lengths to give Buzz 6lb at Ascot on his return, but last year’s winner has not been missed in the market as a result (around 5/2 on the exchange) and he does have a 6lb penalty to carry again here and he could be pestered for the lead by Heaven Help Us.

No, I couldn’t see any edge in a trappy little race, in which Ballyadam is the wild card returning to hurdles.

Didn’t fall into the Trap of forcing a bet

Midnightreflection may get an uncontested lead in the 2m4f mares handicap hurdle at 15:35, though Runasimi River and Anythingforlove can go forward – and she isn’t a bad price around 12/1, but she is clearly vulnerable to a less exposed performer, even if her mark of 132 is fair.

Of course, the search for the sexy one begins and end with Trapista here, and I have no problem with her exchange price of around 7/2 after her impressive win in a good time at Huntingdon, though I am happy not to force a bet on her, especially as the second and third have been well stuffed since (though the fourth and fifth did win next time).

Earlier in the week, with the ground already soft and plenty of rain forecast, I was working on the basis of near-heavy ground at Doncaster, but they have barely had a drop and it has actually dried out to good to soft, officially at least.

I was half-tempted by Snookered, put in as the outsider of the field at 14/1 fixed-odds, in the 2m handicap hurdle at 14:05, for similar reasons to Midnightreflection at Cheltenham, in that the coast could be clear for him to get his own way on the lead.


But, once again, I just thought there were likely to be at least a couple in here off a better mark and with the potential to improve a good deal, so I declined the opportunity to get involved.

Early bets still runners in strong contest

I did get stuck in ante-post on the Summit Juvenile Hurdle at 14:40, as I thought the race would cut up badly with so many entered elsewhere and with bad ground in the offing.

Luckily, the two I backed each-way at 5/1 and 20/1 are still among the eight remaining, but unfortunately so are most of the big guns from the five-day stage, such as Porticello, Knight Salute, Too Friendly and Impulsive One.

So much for trying to be a clever b@stard, as Ian Dury may have once sung!

To be fair, Magistrato is around the same price now and Sacre Pierre has surprisingly shortened into 12/1 (though I suspect he will be drift to 20/1 again), and I have the guarantee of three places, which those playing fixed-odds now don’t have if one comes out.

However, I have no issue with the prices now on offer.

The 3m handicap chase at 15:15 has stood up better than I thought it would from the five-day stage – there were 12 on Monday, and they have done well to get seven at the overnight stage – but I am not going to waste your time here.

Two For Gold was the obvious one at 9/2 earlier in the week given the double-entries, but he makes no appeal now at 7/4, and neither does anything else to be honest, especially as the pace could be very muddling. Four of these have gone forward in recent starts, but none are guaranteed trail-blazers.

So there you have it.

Just one betting race, two selections, and zero apology for being so selective on such a hard punting weekend. For me, anyway.

Good luck.