How To Bet £20 on Saturday: V can be for victory for Venetia at Ascot

By Andy Stephens@StevoGG
Sat 4 Nov 2017

Andy Stephens suggested backing Cheltenham winner Thomas Campbell at 6-1 in his How To Bet £20 column last weekend and his winning naps this week have been Smaoineamh Alainn (11-1), Fire Brigade (5-2), Mixboy (15-8), Audacious Plan (6-4) and, on Friday, Guitar Pete (2-1). His other nap was second.

By Andy Stephens

There is wonderful racing all over the world on Saturday and plenty of stamina is going to be required (not to mention tea and chocolate biscuits) because there is almost 13 hours of action between the first race at Newmarket, just after noon, and the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

My colleague, Rachel Candelora, has provided an in-depth analysis of the races that are going to unfold at Del Mar so I’m going to stick to the domestic action.

The obvious starting point is the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase Chase at Wetherby (3.15), where I am firmly in the Coneygree camp.

Don’t be misled by the fact that Cue Card thumped him by 15 lengths on desperate ground in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last season because he was palpably short of peak fitness, whereas the winner had the benefit of a previous run and was as fit as a flea.

I think the rematch is going to be a very different story because Coneygree has done plenty of graft this time and was ready to run in the Kerry National in mid-September, only to miss that contest because of unsuitable ground.

Conditions will not be a problem this time - more rain is forecast overnight and tomorrow - and the 2015 Gold Cup winner confirmed he retains all his ability when a close third to Sizing John and Djakadam in the Punchestown Gold Cup in April.

Coneygree is evidently a fragile character but the lightly-raced ten-year-old remains among the very best in training and, in receipt of weight from his principal rivals, he should take the world of beating. The 9-4 quoted by Boylesports looks generous.

Cue Card has to concede 6lb and this is a much deeper Charlie Hall than the one in which he fluffed his lines in last year at 8-11. Rising 12, he also seems certain to benefit from the run regardless of the fact that his preparation has this time included a racecourse gallop.

The principal supporting race on the card is the bet365 Hurdle (2.40) and looks to have thrown up another banker in the shape of Lil Rockerfeller.

Neil King’s stable flagbearer was a close third in last year’s renewal, when carrying a double penalty, and went on to run cracking races in defeat in races won by Yanworth, Unowhatimeanharry and Nichols Canyon.

This represents a much easier assignment and, unlike 12 months ago, he has no penalty to carry. King reports him more forward than last year and Lil Rockerfeller, 13-8 with Betfair, can deservedly get his head back in front at the main expense of Ptit Zig.

A third short-priced good thing looks Our Duke, the impressive Irish Grand National winner, who returns in the Champion Chase at Down Royal (2.30) but I’m not telling you anything you don’t know there.

At bigger odds, Calipto and Thomas Brown are worth a second glance for their respective races at Ascot.

Calipto returns from almost seven months off in the Byrne Group Handicap Chase (2.35) but I would not worry about that because he won on his return two seasons ago and had been off 11 months when a staying-on sixth (when having his first run for Venetia Williams) in the Grand Annual Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

He resumes off a 1lb lower mark and this is a race that Williams seems to target, having won it with Drumshambo (at 16-1 in 2013) and Cold March (at 12-1 two years ago). Betfair, BetVictor and Paddy Power quote him at 8-1.

In fact, keep an eye on all of the stable’s runners on the card because Houblon Des Obeaux, Zamdy Man and The Clock Leary have also scored at the meeting for Williams in recent years. She has had only a single success from 32 runners this term but most of them have been outsiders and it is probably a red herring.

Thomas Brown has never quite fulfilled his early promise but his record when fresh is compelling and, having been off seven months, that makes him something to bet on at a general 10-1 for the Sodexo Gold Cup Handicap Chase (3.35).

He won on his hurdling debut after 227 days off at Exeter three years ago and had been off 224 days before scoring on his return at Ascot in 2015. Last season, after a 210-day absence, he scooped a competitive handicap chase at Aintree in a race where the first two pulled 28 lengths clear.

Thomas Brown is only 1lb higher on this occasion and it makes sense that he skipped a race at Cheltenham last weekend because this one is worth £25,000 more to the winner.

My shortlist for the William Hill Handicap Hurdle (3.00) rapidly turned into a long list, so I’ll swerve that and instead suggest a couple more for Newmarket.

Lord Glitters is bound to be popular in the Price Bailey Ben Marshall Stakes (3.30) after his striking win at Ascot on Champions Day but this will be a different sort of test.

It is not difficult to imagine a scenario where Bravo Zolo gets an easy lead - or at least first run - and he will be a tough nut to crack if he does. Charlie Appleby’s charge is officially the highest rated runner in the line-up and seems effective on all types of ground.

At the time of writing, Betfair are the only firm to chalk up prices and they make him 5-1. That seems fair enough to me and, if he's bigger elsewhere, then happy days.

Finally, I won’t be able to resist a play on Top Mission, another Godolphin-owned runner, who lines up in the closing Imp Graphics Handicap (4.00) and is a general 6-1.

This son of Dubawi has shown ability and temperament in equal measure and almost threw away victory for the third time on his latest start, having traded at 1.05 and 1.04 in-running when beaten on previous two runs.

If connections can sort his mind out then he could climb the ladder and I like the fact that he has been off five months, been gelded since we last saw him and will be equipped with a first-time hood. Also, Saeed Bin Suroor is using the 3lb claim of George Wood, who won the November Handicap for the boys in blue at this time last year.

How to Bet £20 on Saturday:

(Prices correct at 4.40pm on Friday)


2.25 Ascot: Calipto £4 win at 8-1 with Betfair, BetVictor and Paddy Power

3.15 Wetherby: Coneygree £3 win at 9-4 with Boylesports

3.30 Newmarket: Bravo Zolo £4 win at 5-1 with Betfair

3.35 Ascot: Thomas Brown £2 win and £1.50 each-way at a general 10-1

4.00 Newmarket: Top Mission £2 each-way at a general 6-1


Three £5 win doubles and a £5 win treble (General odds in brackets)

2.30 Down Royal: Our Duke (4-5)

2.40 Wetherby: Lil Rockerfeller (11-8)

3.15 Wetherby: Coneygree (2-1)


15p Win Super Heinz and £1 each-way accumulator (General odds in brackets)

2.25 Ascot: Calipto (8-1)

2.30 Down Royal: Our Duke (4-5)

2.40 Wetherby: Lil Rockerfeller (11-8)

3.15 Wetherby: Coneygree (2-1)

3.30 Newmarket: Bravo Zolo (5-1)

3.35 Ascot: Thomas Brown (10-1)

4.00 Newmarket: Top Mission (6-1)

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