24th February 2017
In this week’s issue….
We’re headed to Newcastle for our target race this weekend – the Eider Chase (2.45).
A field of 18 runners goes to post. They race over 4 miles. It promises to be a real test of stamina on ground currently described as heavy (soft in places)….
It’s a competitive race – as you’d expect – and that only encourages me to oppose the shorties the wider market wants to be with….
We’ll get to my selection in a moment or two. First a quick spin through a few bits and pieces on my mind….
The bookies were laughing up their sleeves again this week – when it was announced Thistlecrack wouldn’t be running in the Gold Cup at next month’s Festival….
Colin Tizzard’s charge had been favourite for the race before he’d even jumped a fence in public. And he’d shortened up for each of his four subsequent victories….
A defeat to Many Clouds at Cheltenham on Trials day took some shine off him. But he was still headed to the big one as the 15/8 favourite.
The price tells you he wasn’t quite the sure-thing that Douvan and Altior represent in the Champion Chase and the Arkle – but he was billed as the one to beat and plenty of punters were on him.
Many would have backed him before the bookies went Non-Runner-No-Bet on the Championship races – seeking to get the best of the diminishing prices about a horse the media were busily recasting as an equine God or a cert (depending on how you read it)....
Now, three-weeks before the race is even run, they’ve already done their money. That’s ante-post betting at short prices in a nutshell. Across the long-term the only winner is the bookie….
He either gets to bank the easiest money anybody will ever make. Or he banks some good PR by letting the press know he’s a good guy and will return stakes on the bets (probably as a free bet rather than cash) to demonstrate what a fine sport he is….
Bookies will be looking forward to more easy-money over the next few weeks….
Ten of the 28 races run at the Cheltenham Festival are handicaps and yesterday the entries for those races were revealed.
Next Wednesday the weights will be published and the betting markets will start to take shape in earnest….
Bookies will be keen for punters to steam into horses at the top of the market. Those short-priced Festival handicap horses have represented a real profit bonanza for bookmakers in recent times….
Last year there were no winning outright favourites in the Festival handicaps and only one outright favourite managed to hit the frame – including the 5th place on which plenty of bookies pay-out in those big-field races….
It was a similar story the year before – no winning jollies and just two placing.
In fact, the last outright favourite to win a Festival handicap was Fingal Bay in the 2014 edition of the Pertemps Final – and he was the only favourite to win that year.
The lesson is very clear: if you want to get yourself on the bookmaker’s ‘good guy’ list, just go through the markets for the handicaps at next month’s Festival and get your money on the horses everybody is backing into short-prices….
Chances are strong that you’ll do your money. But the bookie will think well of you….
Kerry Lee’s RUSSE BLANC has kind of dropped off the radar since winning the Classic Chase at Warwick in 2016….
He won that off 127 and was subsequently hiked up to 139. He went for last year’s edition of tomorrow’s race next time out but he had to overcome that new mark on ground that was probably a bit quick for him. In the event, he ended up unseating his rider.
He pulled-up on his next two outings. Then got well beaten at Haydock and again back at Warwick for this season’s edition of the Classic.
By the time he showed up at Carlisle earlier this month for an egg-and-spoon race worth £6k – under a first-time ride from Brian Hughes – he’d dropped to 127. And he bounced back to something like form – running 2nd and, most importantly, finishing his race off strongly.
He’s back up to 130 for tomorrow – 9lbs lower than the mark he ran-off last year – and having showed recent signs of life he makes some each-way appeal at the 12s.
Brian Hughes will have learnt plenty at Carlisle and the ground has come up heavy – which will suit the 10yo much better than last term’s good to soft surface. This real test of stamina is right up his street….
He’s just 3lbs in advance of the mark he won the Classic Chase off in good style and is weighted to produce a big run….
Standard place terms are 1/4 1-2-3-4. I’ll be backing the horse each-way….
Quality betting heats have been thin on the ground for us of late. But this weekend we get back to something like business as usual….
The cards at Kempton and at Lingfield both offer races that appeal from a betting perspective….
We make a rare foray onto the all-weather for the Winter Derby – I’m taking on the favourite and siding with an improver at a double-figure price….
The Betbright Handicap Chase is the big betting heat at Kempton and I’m two-against-the-field – one at a price I’m very excited by….
You can get both these extra bets by simply taking a FREE 14-day test drive of my Against the Crowd service.
That’s all from me this week. Enjoy your weekend.