Friday, 10th February 2017
It’s another one of those quiet pre-Festival weekends where there’s not a great deal to shoot at….
Races like the G2 Denman Chase and the G2 Game Spirit – small-field conditions races – are interesting enough to watch. They can provide clues about bigger events further down the line.
But as betting heats they make no appeal whatsoever – and I won’t be getting involved. It’s a watching brief for me where those events are concerned.
Our preference at Against the Crowd is for the conditions races and handicap events that attract larger fields and produce markets with a more attractive shape – markets where serious live contenders lurk down the list….
So, tomorrow’s G3 Betfair Hurdle at Newbury (3.35) is the natural target for us.
A field of 16-runners goes to post for this handicap event over the 2-mile trip. Hopefully they will all stand their ground – ensuring that we’re playing for the 4 places….
The ground at Newbury is currently described as soft. The light rain forecast overnight and into tomorrow should succeed in keeping it that way.
The last 10 renewals of this feature handicap have been won by horses aged 5- or 6-years-old. And the market is largely priced-up in the expectation that trend will be upheld….
Lightly-raced and progressive pair, Ballyandy & Movewiththetimes head the market at 9/2 and 11/2 respectively.
Their prices are compressed partly because of support from one or two of the big midweek tipsters in the mainstream racing press and on the big racing websites….
Once the punters that follow those tipsters get involved, the bookies immediately shorten-up to the point of silliness.
There’s nothing wrong with either of those horses. We certainly haven’t seen the best of them yet. But they are too short for me in an event of this nature. Any value has gone.
As per usual I’ll be going against the grain with my selections – and I’m going two-against-the-field at nice prices….
First up is WAIT FOR ME at 14s….
Yes, he’s 7-years-old. But he’s still very lightly raced and I am mindful that the first-time Philip Hobbs reached for the hood with this horse, he produced a career-best when placing in last season’s County Hurdle at the Festival….
In his two runs to date this term the hood has been absent. But it is back on tomorrow. And I expect Wait For Me to improve on what he’s shown this term to date because of it.
He was sent off favourite last time at Cheltenham – so there’s a case for saying he was expected to show a bit more prominently than he did.
He was a bit too keen for his own good that afternoon. And he faded out of things late on. His yard wasn’t in the best of form at the time either.
But that’s certainly not the case now. Hobbs has sent out 9 winners from his last 34 runners. The yard is flying and I expect Wait For Me to be primed to run a big one tomorrow. The soft ground will be right up his street and at 14s I think he’s a cracking each-way price.
The other one I must be with at the prices is BOITE. I think he’s a massive price at this morning’s 40s.
He’s 7-years-old too. But still lightly-campaigned over hurdles having spent the earlier part of his career on the flat.
He’s priced up like a horse that’s been thrashed out of sight all season. But that’s not the case.
He won on seasonal debut at Wetherby in a race that was run at a sound clip. Next time out he managed to find another hot contest. He got beaten 13 lengths that day – but had excuses. He was trying 21-furlongs and he didn’t appear stay.
Tomorrow he reverts to the 2-mile trip after a nice rest and and he could be heavily under-estimated. He certainly isn’t the no-hoper his price says he is.
Trainer Warren Greatrex is rolling the dice with the application of first-time cheekpieces and the booking of son Thomas Greatrex to take 7lb off.
It looks to me like all systems go. The horse is being given every chance. I think he’s lined-up for a serious tilt at tomorrow’s prize money.
At 40s the horse is a huge bit of good value and I can’t resist going in each-way. It’s against the grain. But that’s how I play.
The Contrarian Bet Box….
To recap on where my contrarian money will be going tomorrow afternoon….
In the Betfair Hurdle (3.35 @ Newbury)....
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 with today’s ATC Extra….
Until then. Stay tuned.