Where my contrarian money is going tomorrow....

Last Updated: 28.04.2017

Friday, 28th April 2017

Where my contrarian money is going tomorrow….

Only 13-runners head to post in tomorrow’s bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown (3.35) – the last big handicap chase of the British jumps season….

That makes it a slightly smaller field than usual. But that’s incidental because the horse that caught my eye in the entries earlier in the week is set to run and he can be backed this afternoon at a fair-enough 12s.

PRESENT MAN is an interesting runner for Paul Nicholls – a handler who has targeted this race to good effect in previous years. He’s not been frugal with the bullets he’s fired – but a record of 3 winners and 10 placers across the last 15 renewals tells you he fires plenty that aren’t blank.

Sure, the market rates Just A Par the yard’s main hope. Fair enough. He won the race back in 2015.

But that was off a mark of 140 – carrying 10-00. He’s 9 points bigger in the handicap tomorrow and carries 11-09. It certainly won’t be an automatic case of rinse and repeat for him.

At the prices, I prefer to go with the apparent Nicholls second-string….

  • Interesting placement….

Present Man is an unexposed novice having had just 8 goes over fences. But he’s acquitted himself well so far and Paul Nicholls refers to him as a horse with a huge amount of ability.

He needs a proper good surface to do his job and he comes into this race fresher than most of the opposition having raced just once during 2017.

That was at Ascot at the start of the month – where the 7yo put a small field to the sword at Ascot over 2 miles and 5 furlongs. He idled in front that day and the figures don’t really tell the full story of his superiority.

After that race, Nicholls said he might look for another novice event for the horse – either at Perth or Sandown.

Instead the horse turns up at Sandown in the day’s feature handicap – for big money. It’s an interesting placement that catches my eye and suggests Present Man is showing plenty at home now that spring has come and the ground has some bounce in it.

The step-up in trip is interesting too. He’s gone 25-furlongs before. But never this far. And you never know if a horse will get a trip until he does. But the omens are good.

Sired by Presenting out of a Strong Gale mare, you’d expect the stamina to be there. And at the price, I’m prepared to bet that it is.

If there is one horse in tomorrow’s race capable of progressing in leaps and bounds – well beyond the handicapper’s current assessment of him – then this is that horse.

He seems to love going right and if he can get in a rhythm and handle the Sandown fences then he can outrun his price. Then it’s anybody’s game. Regular rider Jack Sherwood retains the assignment and takes off a useful 3lbs. The ground suits. The yard is firing. There’s plenty to like in the bet. 

  • Over at Punchestown….

O’FAOLAINS BOY went well for a long way in the Grand National at the start of the month – certainly a lot better than people expected given the season he’d had.

He didn’t quite get home at Aintree and was pulled up after the last fence. But Paul Townend reported post-race that the horse had given him a ‘super ride’.

The 10-year-old’s form record for the season reads PPP. But if his Aintree run proved nothing else it proved the one-time RSA Chase winner – who has had his problems – is not yet the busted flush many suspected him of being.

The ground for his first two runs of the season was atrocious – so there were plausible excuses for his performances at Ascot and at Newbury.

Prior to Aintree he had a wind-op. But it didn’t leave much time to get him ready. And connections admitted his preparations had been rushed. To run as well as he did on the day was a success of sorts.

He turns up tomorrow in the Palmerstown House Pat Taaffe Handicap Chase at Punchestown (5.00) over the extended 3-miles – which will see him to better effect. He should be better for going deep at Aintree and he could well produce a big run for Rebecca Curtis.

Paul Townend has taken the ride again. I think connections feel there is unfinished business. And whilst the horse is number three on the card, the presence of Sizing Codelco in the field means he’ll only carry 10-12.

Rebecca Curtis doesn’t target Irish handicaps lightly. She’s already a couple show up well this week. And this one could be a surprise package.

There are no prices available yet – with the race not getting underway until tomorrow evening and with this evening’s card yet to come. But I think the price will be there to take. I can’t see the horse being shorter than 16s – and that’s a bet for me. Anything bigger – that’s a bonus.

The Contrarian Bet Box….

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

In the bet365 Gold Cup (3.35 @ Sandown)....

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – PRESENT MAN each-way (12s Generally)

In the Palmerstown House Pat Taaffe Handicap Chase (5.00 @ Punchestown)....

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – O’FAOLAINS BOY each-way (16s+ when prices appear).

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 now.

I’ll back a little later today with ATC Extra.

Until then. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd