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Friday Racing Tips: Tony Calvin is turning the Lights On at Sandown

One of the reasons why I prefer betting in handicaps, to Group races, is simple.

Numbers.

I wouldn’t say the Sandown handicaps on Friday are teeming with runners, but the three Group races on the card have attracted a combined total of 16 entries.

Sure, we will watch those races, but how many of us are going to bet on them?

You desperately feel for the sport, the sponsors and the course, who have been watering since last Friday to ensure the ground doesn’t get too quick, but it is a desperate look to get that response from trainers when you have put on two 80k races and a 115k prize.

Maybe, the horses simply are not there any more, as everyone has been saying. After all, the Gordon Richards Stakes, down to three runners, only had six entries at the five-day stage.

Six!

Anyway, we can deal with these races quickly enough.

Group races define ‘no bet’ territory

The aforementioned three-runner Group 3 holds no appeal whatsoever, the Sussex Stakes winner Alcohol Free will have to be seriously below par on her return to not oblige in the bet365 Mile – she doesn’t incur a 5lb penalty for that Group 1 success, though a first-time hood for her is a touch off-putting – and seven unexposed, winning colts (none of whom has raced more than three times) lining up for the Classic Trial is peak “no bet” territory for me, even if Goldspur has by far the best form credentials going into the race.

Handicaps do appeal, however

Thank god the two handicaps have attracted 10 runners, even if both are 3yo-only affairs and very tricky as a result.First up is the 5f handicap at 13:20, and I couldn’t dig out a bet here either.

Live In The Dream probably appealed most at the prices as he is fit and in form, having run well off this mark at Thirsk last time, but all his best runs have come on soft ground or on the all-weather and you suspect at least one of the less exposed horses will chin him.

The most obvious is Auditor, who looks on a fair mark on 89 here on his Windsor fast-ground win, and he is a half-brother to two smart sorts, including the 107-rated sprinter Global Applause, but he was never going to be missed in the market.

Amazonian Dream brings the best course form to the table, but I simply couldn’t see an angle into the sprint.

The Esher Cup at 13:50 is not the big deal it once was but it is the best betting medium on the ITV races.

The default position at the moment is just to back Charlie Appleby’s horses as he has his string in astonishing form, so ignore his Blue Trail at your peril. However, the one I am going to chuck a few quid at – and this is a minimum-stakes race – is Ring Of Beara.

A mark of 93 is no gimme on what he has achieved but, saying that, he did run the now 110-rated Imperial Fighter to 2 1/2 lengths in a Goodwood maiden on their debuts last July.

He then went on to dish it out to inferior sorts at heavy odds-on at Ffos Las (that said, the 5-length third is now rated 87 after winning his last two races) and he then took his chance in the Group 3 Tattersalls Stakes, a race in which he went off an 11/1 chance.

As it happened, it was a nonsense race with the six runners splitting into three groups across the track, with Ring Of Beara coming home best of a detached duo on the near side.

So there should be plenty more to come from this Wootton Basset colt who cost 200,000 guineas a yearling – that’s a big money purchase for Richard Hughes – and I am going to have a small nibble on him at 7/1 win-only with the Sportsbook.

By the sounds of it, his trainer had always marked him down as a 3yo, so he took his time with him as a juvenile. You’d be disappointed if he wasn’t suitably revved up here.

SBK13/2

EXC5.8

Trainer: Richard Hughes
Jockey: Pat Dobbs
Age: 3
Weight: 9st 7lbs
OR: 93

My view of the Perth action

We also have two ITV races from Perth.
Nothing doing in the five-runner handicap hurdle at 14:05 – though Eclair De Beaufeu looks very dangerously handicapped off 132 now – and to be honest I didn’t feel any pressing need to get involved in the 3m6f Highland National at 14:40.

Amateur was probably my first choice at a double-figure price after his Ffos Las win last time, and I was considering a wild swing at Seaston Spirit, the horse having plummeted to a mark of just 110, allied to the fact that the Oliver Sherwood team are in good form.

However, the latter really does need it softer than he will get here and not even Michael Fabricant couldn’t defend his recent, pitiful form.

Take a chance at Sandown

I always do a second-sweep of my column, the races and the prices before I file – and a third just before the piece goes live – and I went back and had a look at the bet365 Mile again at 15:00 and decided I wanted to take on Alcohol Free, for all she is the best horse in the race by 10lb on official ratings, having ducked a 5lb penalty for her two Group 1 successes.

But there is something about a first-time hood on her reappearance that would unsettle me – and maybe her – if I were backing her at around 4/6 (though she is already 4/5 on the Exchange), and it sounds like connections are looking at the possibility at dropping her back in trip this season.

And, if that is the case a defeat in a Group 2, wouldn’t be the end of the world for this dual Group 1-winning filly.

I wanted to take a chance with Lights On win-only, and without the favourite too, but the latter market won’t be available until later on Thursday evening (I will be looking for 5/1 and bigger, by the way, and expecting 6/1) so I am going to play Lights On at 16/1 each-way – with Betfair Ambassador Ryan Moore on board – two places, quarter the odds.

SBK12/1

EXC13

Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute
Jockey: Ryan Moore
Age: 5
Weight: 8st 12lbs
OR:

Her record is patchy, but she will handle the ground, she won first time up last season and she is the second-best horse in here on official ratings with her 3lb sex allowance, which the current prices do not reflect.

Good luck.

Profit and Loss since 26 March

Staked: 38pts
Returns: 112.8pts
P/L: +74.8pts
PREVIOUS (April 14 2021 to March 25 2022
P/L: + 183.1

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