Where my money is going on Day 1....

Last Updated: 13.03.2017

Monday, 13th March 2017

Where my contrarian money is going on Day 1….

It’s a long week at the Cheltenham Festival and I don’t intend to set off at too furious a pace….

Whilst every race is interesting from a sporting perspective, it doesn’t pay to load up on bets in every race. I intend to stick to races where I know the horses and where I have an opinion. I won’t be throwing any darts this week.

Some tipsters feel the need to put up a selection in every race. Fair enough. Each to his own. But I’ll be adopting a more selective approach. I don’t feel the need to convert to the sawn-off-shotgun school of betting – where you fire off shots in all directions hoping to hit something…. anything….

The Ultima Handicap Chase (2.50) is an obvious target for me tomorrow. And I like a horse at a value price in what looks like a very open Champion Hurdle (3.30).

So, onto the detail….

  • The value in the Champion Hurdle….

With the serious big-guns – Faugheen and Annie Power – missing from this season’s renewal, the Champion Hurdle (3.30) has an open look.

We’re going to have a new champion whatever happens. The market has bet a series of up-and-comers into the top 4 berths of the market at single-figure prices. And even Moon Racer – the next in the betting and only confirmed as a runner over the weekend – is as short as 8s in places.

Of the shorties, my pick would be Brain Power. But I’m not looking for ‘winners’. My assignment is to identify ‘value’ and whilst 7s might look like value once the race has been run, I can’t make that case now….

Instead I’m going to take the 20s about one of Willie Mullins’s substitute runners – FOOTPAD.

Were the big guns in place, he probably wouldn’t be running. But they’re not, he is and he can capitalize in what might well turn out to be a below-par edition of the race.

This is a smart horse in any case. He’s already won G1s in France and Ireland and last time out he ran Petite Mouchoir to a length in the Irish Champion Hurdle. That one three times a shorter price for tomorrow’s race.

I don’t reckon a length equates to 14 betting points. A length is nothing to make up – particularly on a track where the undulations will play to Footpad’s strengths.

It might be the case that Henry De Bromhead’s horse is over-priced to some degree. But it’s also the case that Footpad is under-priced to some degree.

I want to take advantage on an each-way basis with plenty of firms up with terms of 1/4 1-2-3. 

  • Go Conquer in the Ultima at a big price….

In the Ultima Handicap Chase, Holywell is Jonjo O’Neill’s number one hope as far as the market is concerned….

Fair enough. But I’m much more interested in GO CONQUER at prices up to 33s with several firms.

He’s certainly nicely weighted. A mark of 137 is workable and he has bits of form that encourage the view he might well be ahead of that rating. He’s only raced 7 times over fences and there should be more to come.

He didn’t seem to quite get home over 3-miles last time out on soft ground at Ascot. But the time before that he ran Double Shuffle to 3 lengths over the 3-mile trip at Kempton. For sure he was getting weight but Tom George’s horse has gone up 9lb since then to 152. That pays the O’Neill horse something of a compliment.

The 8yo put his best foot forward in the spring last year – winning at Wincanton where the good ground improved him. And he’s just the type to come alive for O’Neill at the Festival.

The market fancies plenty of horses more strongly than him. But Cheltenham handicaps are of often less about what it is you did earlier in the season and more about what you’re going to do now the ground has changed and the sun is out.

Go Conquer has the right kind of profile for a Festival handicap. He certainly comes from a yard that merits respect with its handicappers at the meeting. I’ll be going in each-way.

The Contrarian Bet Box….

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

In the Champion Hurdle (3.30 @ Cheltenham)....

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – FOOTPAD each-way (20s generally)

In the Ultima Handicap Chase (2.50 @ Cheltenham)....

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – GO CONQUER each-way (33s 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.

  • The last word….

That’s all from me for today.

I’ll be back tomorrow with my take on the action on Day 2.

Until then. Stay tuned. And be sure to enjoy the racing. It doesn’t get any better.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd

P.S. Whatever you plan to back today, make sure you get the best of the bookmaker deals and concessions on offer. Check out the best of what’s available here….