The contrarian word on the weekend action....

Last Updated: 14.09.2018

Friday, 14th September 2018

The contrarian word on the weekend action….

ABEL HANDY has been highly-tried by connections this term – taking in the G1 Commonwealth Cup and the G1 Nunthorpe along the way....

Those are not unreasonable targets when you consider the horse won the G3 Cornwallis Stakes on his last appearance as a juvenile at the back-end of last year....

It was a good performance – requiring grit....

He broke the track record for juveniles....

Sound And Silence, the horse he beat by a neck that day, was rated 107 at the time. After the race, Abel Handy was himself reassessed to a mark of 105....

  • Going wrong....

It was reasonable to expect him to train on and excel this year at a lofty level.

He’s been tried at that lofty level – but he’s been absolutely found wanting and been smashed out of sight....

Maybe the horse has simply regressed. Maybe over the winter he changed his mind about the game. He might not be the horse he was or the horse he promised to be....

Or maybe connections have been smoking the old banana skins and getting ahead of themselves with what this horse is truly about....

I don’t know. But nothing he has shown this term in four runs – despite his being highly tried – suggests he is up to G1 standard....

You wonder why they persisted with the project along those lines. Did it boil down to real belief? Or was persisting with a pattern campaign a refusal to accept reality?

What was he showing at home? Was he working like a Group animal? If he wasn’t, why send him out to the slaughter against the best sprinters on the block?

  • A big one for the Portland....

My questions are rhetorical in nature, of course. I don’t haver the answers myself. And I don’t expect you to have them either....

The bottom line as far as we are concerned is that the horse has dropped from 105 at the start of the campaign to a mark of 96 for tomorrow’s Portland Handicap at Doncaster (1.50). Losing races does have its benefits....

He’s had the heat turned down on the stove too. He’s dropping down into handicap company for the first time....

Gone are the out and out G1 fireballs. Instead, he gets to go in a race where the pace will be just that bit more pedestrian and just that bit more comfortable for it....

I also like the Portland as a target for this horse. I don’t think he’s a 5f animal. I reckon he’s one of those that can excel at this specialist in-between sprint trip....

We know Declan Carroll can lay one out for a big handicap. He did it for us at York last month with Titus.

I just smell possibilities again with this one tomorrow and, at prices as big as 33s and 25s in this morning’s ante-post market, I want to back this horse each-way.... 

He should be fit, he’s down the handicap to a workable mark, and he’s in amongst lesser opposition than he’s been in with for a while. I think he might just be primed to finally rock and roll.

At the price, I am happy to take my chances....

The Contrarian Bet Box….

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

In the Portland Handicap (1.50 @ Doncaster).

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.

  • The last word….

That’s all from me for today.

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

No ATC Extra this afternoon. I’ll be back in your inbox with the ATC brand of insight, analysis and observation next week....

Until then. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd