The contrarian word on day 1 at York....

Last Updated: 15.05.2018

Tuesday, 15th May 2018

The contrarian word on Day 1 at York….

We’ve got a busy week ahead of us with the Dante meeting taking place up at York – starting tomorrow and running through Friday....

Our beat consists of the big-field handicaps and there are a few of those for us to shoot at....

As always, we’ll be seeking to find the value – the right kind of competitive horse trading at the wrong price....

We get started on that job today – targeting the pick of the prices in the C2 Infinity Tyres Handicap (2.55). A field of 19 horses aged 4yo+ and rated 0 to 105 go at it up the 6f straight....

We’ll get onto that in a moment. First, a bit of other business arising from last week’s action....

  • Gilgamesh on the Watch List....

You might recall that I put Richard Spencer’s Gilgamesh up for the Spring Cup at Newbury in April....

You might also recall that he stunk the place out on the day – finishing 20th of the 22 that went to post and beaten a good 32-lengths by the principal finishers....

I got my timing wrong on that one. And I was behind the curve in terms of information. Turns out that there wasn’t much expected of the horse at Newbury....

Connections would have wanted a better showing than he produced on the day, but the race was never anything more than a prep-run for last Saturday’s Victoria Cup at Ascot. That was the real target....

The horse didn’t win there either. But he left that Newbury performance far behind – finishing 7th of the 27 and beaten just 2-lengths by the winner....

The key thing to note is that Saturday’s race developed on the far side. The first six home all ran in that bigger pack....

Gilgamesh on the other hand did it on the near side in the smaller group and he did coming late off a hold-up ride from 3lb claimer David Egan – finishing strongly....

It’s all ifs, buts and maybes – and we’ll never know for sure – but I suspect Gilgamesh would have been closer had he raced over on the favoured side where all the early pace and cover was....

The bottom line is that Gilgamesh ran well and got competitive in unfavourable circumstances. He can win off a mark of 92 – and now that Spencer has him worked up to full fitness, he is of strong interest in the weeks ahead.

It is never easy to win one of the big handicap pots. These races are as competitive as they come. But Gilgamesh has indicated that he is capable right now. And I’m putting him on the Watch List. His time could be a-coming.

  • Between me and you....

Returning to today’s principal focus – tomorrow’s Infinity Tyres Handicap at York....

Nobody throws more horses at the York handicaps than Richard Fahey. At this meeting over the last 7-years, he’s run more than 100 in the handicaps – winning with 5 and getting competitive performances out of plenty more....

The trouble with him is in sorting the wheat from the chaff. He’s got three in tomorrow’s race. Gin In The Inn with Paul Hanagan up is the one the market expects at 8s.

That’s hardly surprising when you consider Hanagan has ridden the horse five times in the past and produced form figures that read: 11122. Horse and rider clearly connect.

Fair enough. But the Fahey horse I like is PRIVATE MATTER at 14s....

He was a decent prospect at 2-years-old and went into his 3-year-old season rated 106. But he had a shocking time of it – drawing a blank and beating very few horses home on his seven appearances....

In March, it looked like the rot had really set in. Ahead of his seasonal reappearance at Doncaster, Fahey suggested the horse had been working ‘really well’....

If he had, then it certainly didn’t translate into a performance on the track. He was a well-beaten 12th of 14....

But last time – back at Doncaster again 10 days ago – there were distinct signs of life. He finished very well from toward the back to finish third behind Watchable and George Bowen....

Those two were always toward the front and Private Matter had too much to do to overhaul them. But it was a really encouraging performance. The horse looked full-of-running to me – and I reckon he’s about to hit a vein of form....

He’s down to a mark of just 86 tomorrow – 20lbs off his career-best rating and only a pound in advance of the lowest assessment he’s ever had. If that last-time-out performance is any sign at all, then he is weighted to capitalize tomorrow....

  • Two-against-the-field....

I’m going two-against-the-field and the other one I’m going with is Keith Dalgleish’s EL HOMBRE at a big 25s....

The key to this horse is fast ground. And, assuming the weather forecasts are correct, he will get what he wants tomorrow afternoon....

He’s only been beaten on a good to firm surface once in five goes and whilst tomorrow’s race represents a fair-sized step-up in class compared to those efforts, he’s still a lightly raced type on turf and could well have plenty more in the locker when presented with the right race in the right conditions....

I’m not bothered about his flop on the all-weather in March. Connections have had time to get the horse ready and right for this. And the break isn’t an issue for me either. This horse has come out and won off lay-offs before.

If there is a hug-bear, it’s the form of the yard. But not everything has been running below par and yards can come right overnight.

I imagine this horse has been targeted at and prepared for this race for a while. With conditions going his way, who is to say this horse – one of the bigger guns in the yard – won’t be the one to get the whole team motoring again.

The Contrarian Bet Box….

To recap on where my contrarian money will be going tomorrow afternoon….

In the Infinity Tyres Handicap (2.55 @ York).

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – PRIVATE MATTER (14s generally) & EL HOMBRE (25s generally)

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.

Get the latest odds here >>

  • The last word….

That’s all from me for today.

Win, lose or draw – enjoy the racing....

I’ll be back in your inbox tomorrow with my contrarian take on the action on Day 2 at York’s Dante meeting – along with any other business....

Until then. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd