4th March 2016
Good afternoon, friends,
In today’s ATC Extra bulletin….
It’s another slightly unsatisfactory weekend for us in terms of getting the big-field handicaps we like to target for prices.
Up at Doncaster the Grimthorpe Chase has cut up to just 8 runners and nothing really appeals at the prices. The 2 mile chase handicap sees just 6 runners head to the start. The 3 mile handicap hurdle up at the Yorkshire track doesn’t interest me either. At Newbury the 11-runner Greatwood Handicap Hurdle was an option – but I don’t really like dropping down to class 3 level for bets….
We are left with the Greatwood Veterans’ Handicap Chase – a class 2event for horses aged 10yo+. It is contested over 3 miles and 2 furlongs at Newbury tomorrow afternoon at 2.15. You can watch the race live on C4 and RUK.
A field of 13 goes to post on ground described as good to soft (soft in places).
In case you missed it – Festival angles….
Over on my full Against the Crowd service this week we’ve been doing some pre-Festival spadework – identifying angles of attack in the handicap chase events….
We’ve been looking at stats the rest of the market isn’t – and we’ve isolated some interesting avenues of potential….
We’ll be cracking on with more pre-Festival insight, analysis and angles next week – Monday to Friday. You can secure access to that coverage and my picks during the Festival meeting by signing up today for a free 14-day trial to Against the Crowd….
Venetia Williams won this race in 2014 with Summery Justice and she can repeat that trick tomorrow with RELAX who is a fair enough bet at the general 10s.
The formbook doesn’t lie and he hasn’t been seen to best effect in two runs this term. But Williams – who has hit the first 3 with more than 40% of the handicap chasers she’s sent out this term – is a pretty effective target trainer and it would be no surprise if the 11yo bounces back to form tomorrow.
He certainly put some relatively lack-lustre efforts behind him when running into 2nd behind Soll in last season’s renewal of this race – beaten just under a length with the rest more than 10 lengths in additional arrears.
Aachen also goes for Williams tomorrow. He’s shot almost 2-stone up the official scale to a mark of 150 this term and his presence at the top of the weights means that whilst Relax gets to run off the same mark as last year – his last winning mark – he will be loaded with 3lbs less lead.
This trip at Newbury suits – he’s hit the frame both times he’s tried it – and the ground shouldn’t be a bother either. It was good to soft last year and being closer to soft tomorrow afternoon certainly won’t inconvenience him.
He went so close in last year’s renewal – beaten narrowly by a horse in first-time blinkers that has subsequently been raised a stone in the weights – that another shy at the same coconut might well have been the intention ever since.
For sure there’s an element of intuition involved in this bet. But reading between the lines is part of the game in these handicap events. On recent form you might draw a line through the horse. But I expect him to turn up and put in a serious performance.
It’s not as if we’ve never seen horses from the Venetia William’s yard suddenly ‘turn up’ and put recent less-then-impressive efforts behind them. Look at Houblon Des Obeaux in last month’s Denman Chase for a recent example.
For sure he had first-time cheekpieces on, he was back in a small-field and he had conditions to suit. But the demolition job he served up (winning by 23 lengths whilst eased on the run in and never touching a twig after a series of performances where he made mistake after mistake at his fences) also says much about Venetia Williams and her ability to rediscover horses that have looked out-of-love with the game.
I don’t fancy two at the prices. I had a good long look at Alvarado at 12s. Tuned-up I’d very much fancy him but he’s one of tomorrow’s runners being primed for a tilt at the Grand National – where he’s hit the frame the last two years. He’s not run since last season’s renewal of that race. First time out last term he needed his prep-race and I suspect it will be the same case this time round.
How I’ll be playing….
We don’t have to be betting in hundreds to make the game worthwhile or fun. A spend of a few quid is plenty to be going on with....
Note: The place terms are the standard 1/4 1-2-3 for a 13-runner handicap event. I wouldn’t put you off backing each-way if that’s the way you like to play. But, given the price, that’s your call.
That’s all from me this week. Enjoy your weekend.
Until next time, be lucky.