Tony Calvin's top tips for Sunday: Henry can bounce back to form

By Tony Calvin
Sat 12 Jan 2019

This Sunday tipping lark is not all that it was cracked up to be. So far, at least!

We kept our powder relatively dry with just the three selections last week and a non-runner was our only return on those bets.

It was even harder work chiselling away trying to find something to back this time around, too, and I almost considered tipping at Abu Dhabi!

Small fields are unfortunately the norm at the moment because of the lack of rain on both sides of the Irish Channel, and the National Hunt scene currently resembles the remnants of a scorched-earth policy.

Hyperbole no doubt, but when Kempton was putting on 5mm of water on the chase course on Thursday afternoon to maintain good ground, it underlined just what National Hunt trainers are up against.

Heaven knows how many good novice hurdlers and chasers that are still being kept in cotton wool in Britain and Ireland, waiting for softer ground, and they are now in a race against time if they are to rock up at the Festival in two months.

There is a good card at Punchestown, spearheaded by the Grade Two Moscow Flyer at 2.50pm. But try as I might, I simply couldn’t find a bet on the card.

I was half-tempted by Double Portrait in the 2.20pm, but I’m not one for pushing bets when they simply aren’t there. It wasn’t for the want of trying, I can assure you.

Anyway, I have found two punts for you to consider. Good luck.

2.30 Southwell: Major Crispies at a general 25-1

Boots And Spurs would be very dangerous in this 1m handicap, but I am going to take a chance on Major Crispies, although to minimum-stakes, mind you.

The Ronald Thompson-trained eight-year-old is very interesting on his Southwell debut and, although he is clearly not certain to handle the surface, his dam won here and his trainer knows what he is doing at his track.

Major Crispies had two starts for Thompson last year after joining him from David O’Meara, but he was given a wind op after running poorly on the most recent occasion.

He has been dropped 3lb by the handicapper to a rating of 65 and that enables him to run in a 0-65 handicap for the first time.

Obviously, he is some way detached from his peak rating of 100 four years ago, but this is a class drop for him and he has good form over a mile at Kempton and Chelmsford.

3.10 Kelso: Henryville at 15-2 with Bet365

It was also a bit of a nightmare trying to find a bet on the Kelso card. There were plenty that interested me, but only one that I deemed a backable price, or rather one that I was willing to back.

The 2016 Coral Cup winner Diamond King is having his first start for Olly Murphy in the 1.35pm, having joined him from his old boss Gordon Elliott, but he was never going to be missed in the market.

Another stable-switcher, Mount Mews, now with Donald McCain, is of obvious interest in the 2.05pm, though he does meet some in-form rivals in the extended 2m5f handicap chase.

However, he goes well when fresh and he has dropped to a decent mark.

Choochoobugaloo really does have an excellent chance, from a stable in very good form, in the 2.40pm but I finally got off the no-bet fence with Henryville.

I could well regret it, as he hasn’t shown a great deal of late, and was beaten the small matter of 89 lengths when last seen at Chepstow over Christmas, on his first start for Peter Bowen.

But that came on soft ground over hurdles, and I am willing to have a small-stakes bet on him now he goes back over fences on a decent surface off a falling handicap mark.

He now races off 137 in a 0-140 here, and he is clearly very well-handicapped if showing any of the ability he showed when with Harry Fry, for whom he won convincingly off much higher marks than this over fences, as well as finishing fourth in a Pertemps Final at Cheltenham.

He is an 11-year-old now and may have gone at the game, but his usual hood is back on here (it wasn’t on at Chepstow) and all his better efforts have been on this good ground.

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