Friday, 9th December 2016
Good afternoon, contrarians,
On the menu today….
It’s not the biggest weekend on the programme. There’s not much for us to shoot at in terms of the big handicaps we like to play. But the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Cheltenham (1.50) is one obvious place to look for a bet….
We’ve had a very mild start to the winter. So much so they’ve been watering the track at Cheltenham. It’s the first time they’ve had to do that in December since 2003.
The bottom line is that the ground will be riding faster than would ordinarily be the case at this stage of the year….
That’s the reason Roman Flight is heading to post tomorrow….
He’s a summer horse who needs quicker ground. But he lines up for this, despite having had 13 runs since May, because the decent ground has lasted-out into December and connections think it’s worth a final throw of the dice. And why not?
Other connections – those of Aso, King’s Odyssey and Aloomomo, for example – would have anticipated ground with more cut in the second week of December and will be doing the old rain dance overnight.
There is rain forecast later today and tomorrow morning. But it is forecast as very light rain rather than a torrential downpour.
Unless the forecasters have it badly wrong – and that is not exactly unknown – I think we can expect the surface to be on the quick side. And that won’t suit everybody.
Given the season Colin Tizzard is having with his team of chasers, you wouldn’t expect to be able to back one of the form horses among that group at a price as big as 20s.
But that’s the case with QUITE BY CHANCE tomorrow at Cheltenham – and I think that’s a nice each-way price.
Why so big? Maybe it’s because he’s gone up the weights to the tune of 12lbs since winning at Ascot back in October.
He went up 8lbs for that win. Then next time out he was at the head of the pack chasing the still-classy Sire De Grugy home (he went on to run a cracker in last week’s G1 Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown) in another handicap at the same venue in November – staying on well. He’s gone up another 4lbs for that effort.
He now sits on a mark of 147 and, I get it, you could make the case that the handicapper is somewhere close to having the horse in his grip.
That might indeed prove to be the case. But, at the price, I’m prepared to bet that Colin Tizzard’s 7-year-old can improve again now that he is stepped back up to two-and-a-half miles.
Both those Ascot performances were over 2 miles and 1 furlong. And connections have always considered the horse a middle-distance rather than a minimum-distance horse.
I know the horse has gone up the weights and that weight eventually stops everything. But this is a horse that has improved leaps and bounds this year. And who is to say that the progression has hit the buffers?
The trip will suit and, unlike some, Quite By Chance won’t mind fast-ground. That race he won at Ascot in October was run on a lightening quick surface. He can run a big race at this morning’s price.
The Contrarian Bet Box….
To recap on where my contrarian money will be going tomorrow afternoon….
In the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup (1.50 at Cheltenham)....
That is my take on where the value lies – but you will no doubt have your own ideas and that’s exactly as it should be.
That’s all from me for now. I’ll be back a little later today with ATC Extra. Until then, stay tuned.
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