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Tony Calvin's Monday tips: Footpad looks one to swerve in thrilling Arkle

By Tony Calvin
Sun 11 Feb 2018

Tony Calvin struck with 6-1 and 5-2 winners from three selections last week and looks at the Arkle and Monday's cards in his latest column.

By Tony Calvin

A little over a week ago many were prepared to concede the Racing Post Arkle Trophy to Footpad after his five-length win at Leopardstown – indeed, one firm are still 8-11 about him winning the two-miler – but I fully expect to be place-laying him come the opening day of the Festival.

The reason is that betting is all about price, and I think you have to be taking him on now the way the opposition is shaping up.

He has looked very good indeed in his three chase wins to date, jumping like an old hand. And that underplays his accurate and nimble fencing to a large degree.

However, everyone saw how Petit Mouchoir shaped on his return from a lengthy absence in that Irish Arkle – he had a far easier time of it than the “gunned” winner – and we know he was a better hurdler than the favourite, too.

And then we have the ultra-impressive Sceau Royal and Brain Power – the latter was shaping very well until coming to grief two out in the Clarence House Stakes – even before Saint Calvados entered stage right in devastating fashion at Warwick on Saturday.

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Of course he was getting an age allowance, but his trouncing of 140+ horses at the weekend arguably now makes him the form choice in the Arkle.

All his form has come on soft or worse, but at least Cheltenham will ensure it is at least good to soft on the Tuesday – and nature may make it more testing – and he looks some tool.

The Arkle is shaping up into some race, that is for sure. It just shades Monday’s racing, that much is true, but I have dig out a few bets all the same.

Catterick has to pass an 8am inspection on Monday morning, and the going at Plumpton is heavy and not really my cup of tea so the field sizes have suffered to a degree at both meetings.

So I am happy to play mainly on the all-weather at Wolverhampton. Not ideal, but you play the hand you are dealt. Hopefully, we have at least a couple of aces in the hole.

4.05pm Catterick – Earthmoves at a general 6-1:

Hopefully, Catterick gets the all-clear as Earthmoves is an interesting contender in the 3m 1f handicap chase.

He comes here on the back of a woeful effort at Taunton last month, and one which the handicapper has harshly ignored, but Peter Bowen has gone for the visor. And it is a move that punters would have made a fair few quid following, as the stable are an impressive 11 from 54 when using that headgear for the first time since 2010.

James Bowen is obviously a positive booking for his old man and I am willing to take a chance on his mount over a trip that he has admittedly not shone over before.

Hopefully, they will go steady enough in this small field for Bowen to conserve his energy, though there are a couple in here that like to go on. This may not take a lot of winning, though.

6.40pm Wolverhampton – Suegioo at 6-1 with Coral:

Everyone knows Suegioo is a bit of a monkey and often starts his races like a drunk starts his day, but I have often been a sucker for the old rogue and am guilty as charged once again.

He clearly is not the force he was in his heyday, but obviously his handicap mark reflects that – he was 109 in his pomp but is down to 87 now – and he ran a cracker off that mark when second to a progressive horse in Mambo Dancer on his Wolverhampton debut last time.

Some of his better recent efforts have come in small fields like this, and here is hoping he wins his first race since the 2014 Chester Cup.

Yes, I know...

7.10pm Wolverhampton – Novabridge at a general 9-2:

He is not ideally drawn in nine, but he was drawn eight of eight when winning this race in 2016 and he has enough going for him for me to get involved here.

He is versatile tactics-wise anyway, which is just as well as he can start tardily, and he comes here in good form and on a fair mark. He has a pretty good record at this track, and the case for him is simple. Basically, his price of 9-2 underestimates his chance, so we bet. He should be favourite.

8.40pm Wolverhampton – Broughtons Fancy at 18-1 with bet 365:

The obvious negative here, and possibly an insurmountable one, is the 1m 142y trip. The only two times she has run over further than 7f was over course and distance, and she only managed to beat one of his 19 rivals.

So, you may well want to swerve this recommendation.

But I thought she shaped as though another crack at this trip – and she was out of form when she disappointed over this distance – was warranted when fourth over 7f here last time, and she is certainly weighted to take a hand and hopefully gain course win number five.

Shane Gray will have to give her a stalking ride and pounce late. Bet 365’s 18-1 was simply too big to pass up.

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