Friday, 31st March 2017
There’s nothing like a big flat handicap. At least that’s how I see it.
I like the jumps. But as times goes by, the flat is more and more where the game is at for me. And the big handicaps – especially those run up a straight track – are what I like to work with.
If I was forced to specialize on one type of race only, it would be straight track handicaps up to a mile…
The big flat handicaps are not easy puzzles to solve. Many punters and pros simply won’t play in them. They say they’re the hardest races to call on the programme….
But that’s the point. If it’s hard for me, then it’s hard for the bookies and the other people in the market that I’m effectively betting against….
In an environment where things are complex and difficult, mistakes are likely. Some horses can be over-bet. Others can be easily overlooked or under-estimated.
I trust my game and my objective is to spot and to capitalise on those pricing mistakes….
My objective is to get on the right kind of horse at the wrong price. My objective is to oppose the crowd and focus on good bets at value prices.
All big-field handicaps are tough to call.
With so many closely-matched horses charging hell-for-leather up a straight track, it can sometimes seem like an impossible job….
Tomorrow’s Lincoln is harder than most. It comes on Day 1 of the season when there’s little horse or trainer form in the book and much must be taken on faith or chance….
There’s an element of reading between the lines at work. Only people closely connected to a horse can know how tuned it is to go first-time-up.
The rest of can do no more than consider the data we have at hand and use it to make informed projections….
I’m always interested in returning 4yos at this early stage of the season. Off a winter break, last season’s classic generation can return to the track bigger, stronger and better than their official marks – earned as 3yos – say they are. And that’s a significant advantage….
ZHUI FENG was the first out of the bag yesterday when it came to the allocation of stalls for the race. And he can prove that to have been a good omen by winning tomorrow’s renewal for Amanda Perrett.
The 4yo – her first runner in the race for more than decade – is a general 18s to conquer his 21 opponents – and that is a fair each-way price.
The son of Invincible Spirit has got one or two things going for him tomorrow afternoon.
For a start, he runs off a mark of 102 tomorrow afternoon – 5lb short of the new mark he will run off after the Lincoln. That’s an edge.
Second, the Perrett yard is one of the few in tomorrow’s race to have demonstrated its current well-being on the track. Perrett has produced a couple of winners in the last few days. Martin Dwyer – who rides Zhui Feng tomorrow – reports her string to be in ‘…. real, good form’.
The horse certainly showed up well enough in the Winter Derby at Lingfield in February on his seasonal return. He wasn’t beaten far in 4th. The highly-rated Convey had him bang to rights but the other two that beat him in a close finish had the edge in race fitness. It was a promising effort. One he can build on tomorrow.
Bits and pieces of form from last year are encouraging too. Zhui Feng ran encouraging big-field races off marks of 100+ in the Dubai Duty Free at Newbury and in the Cambridgeshire at Newmarket in September.
He didn’t quite get home as strongly as the others in the latter race over 9f. This step back to the standard mile could suit perfectly. And if he’s improved again over the winter, as I’d imagine, he can be a big player at a nice price tomorrow afternoon.
The Contrarian Bet Box….
To recap on where my contrarian money will be going tomorrow afternoon….
In the Lincoln (3.35 @ 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.
That’s all from me for today.
I’ll be back a little later today with ATC Extra and my pick for the Spring Mile….
Until then. Stay tuned.