Friday, 24th February 2017
Quality betting heats have been thin on the ground for us of late. But this weekend we get back to something like business as usual….
There are good meetings at Kempton and at Newcastle – with both cards offering up a race that appeals from a betting perspective….
At Kempton, the G3 Betbright Handicap Chase (3.35) catches the eye – with 13 runners going to post on ground described this morning as good (good to soft in places)….
At Newcastle, the Eider Chase (2.45) promises to be a real test of stamina. They go to post there on ground described as heavy (soft in places)….
And we have something of novelty for us at Lingfield – a rare foray into the action on the all-weather. The G3 Winter Derby Stakes (3.15) offers us an interesting bet at an attractive price….
Plenty to be cracking on with. So, let’s get down to where my contrarian money is going this weekend….
We go first to the flat. It won’t be too long now before we’re firing our first shots in the 2017 flat season and looking for bets in the Spring Mile and the Lincoln at Doncaster….
As an aperitif, we get a decent race on the all-weather tomorrow in the shape of the Winter Derby at Lingfield (3.15).
William Haggas has had just 4 runners over the last fortnight, but two of those won and the yard is clearly in good heart heading into the spring.
His Mutakayyef heads the betting for tomorrow’s race at 11/8 and it’s easy to see why. He must give 5lbs and more away all round but he twice placed in G1s last season – at home and overseas – and on official figures he’s well in advance of the rest.
In theory, the 5lb shouldn’t be sufficient to anchor him. In practice, this race is a starting point for the horse – a prep for the Dubai Turf as opposed to a primary target. He’s unlikely to be at concert pitch tomorrow.
His short price helps create margin further down the list and the one that looks over-priced to me as an each-way proposition is the filly ABSOLUTE BLAST at 14s.
She carries a nice weight from a handy draw and makes her debut for Archie Moore’s yard after moving from Iain Jardine’s care. She’s been progressive across the winter and deserves to take her chance.
She wasn’t with Jardine long before moving on. But I know he thought she was an exciting and talented horse and that there was more to come.
She lost lengths at the start at Wolves last time out but was still only a half-length short of landing the money and the gamble.
I don’t know if those fluffed lines contributed to her moving to Moore, but Oisin Murphy has been booked for tomorrow’s ride. He’s riding winners for fun right now and confidence will be high. The filly is a fair bet at the price.
Over to Kempton for the Betbright Handicap Chase (3.35).
I want to be on THREE MUSKETEERS and at 7s he’s no each-way shot.
To be fair, he’s not a typical price for this column. But I like the horse.
He was good enough to finish 4th with an eye-catching display in last season’s JLT at the Festival. And I liked the way he finished off at Market Rasen on his recent comeback – suggesting tomorrow’s first-time-go at 3-miles could see him to even better effect.
The cheek-pieces – applied for the first-time at Market Rasen – are on again and the right-handed track will suit….
Dan Skelton went through a bit of a bleak patch with his horses earlier in the winter but they are back in form now. If the horse improves for the trip, as I believe he will, then he will be on the premises.
I’m going to back Three Musketeers to win. My second selection – Neil Mulholland’s PILGRIMS BAY – will be backed each-way at the 25s with bet365 or the general 20s.
He’s at the bottom of the prices but this horse – who moved from David Pipe’s yard to Mullholland’s in November – has only raced 4 times over fences and is totally unexposed.
He showed he has some talent first-time over fences at Sandown on good ground on his debut for his new yard.
And whilst beaten double-figure lengths on his last two starts, he certainly didn’t disgrace himself running on winter ground over trips around two-and-a-half miles – that could well prove inadequate.
Tomorrow this unexposed chaser gets to go off a light weight over 3-miles for the first time on ground that is drying out and going his way.
I rate Mulholland. I think he’s underestimated. He’s certainly in a decent vein of form. I don’t think he’d send this horse on a ‘make-up-the-numbers’ mission. I think he’s here because this horse – up in trip on better ground – could well leave behind the form he’s shown previously. He’s a nice price for a big run.
The Contrarian Bet Box….
To recap on where my contrarian money will be going tomorrow afternoon….
In the Betbright Handicap Chase (3.35 @ Lingfield)....
In the Betbright Handicap Chase (3.15 @ Kempton)....
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 – targeting the prices in the Eider Chase at Newcastle….
Until then. Stay tuned.