Where my contrarian money is going tomorrow....

Last Updated: 16.05.2017

Tuesday, 16th May 2017

Where my contrarian money is going tomorrow….

The 4yos dominated the finish of the Victoria Cup at Ascot on Saturday – filling the first three spots and franking the historical stats….

Winner, Fastnet Tempest, and runner-up, George William were two of the top-3 horses in the betting at the off. They were always off my radar because of market sentiment. It was one of those days.

Taurean Star was the other fancied horse at the off. He was sent off 8s. We got double that price on Friday.

But getting the big prices is one thing. Getting a result is the other half of the equation and the horse failed to produce. But there were excuses.

  • Excuses and reasons to be encouraged….

In a race dominated by the horses drawn high, Taurean Star was on the wrong side. He didn’t help his own cause by getting away from his stall slowly. And he also managed to find a shoe. Plenty went wrong. But he remains of interest.

Bossy Guest, my other pick, ran okay too in 7th. He caught the eye, finished off in good style and did best of the horses rated in the top-third of the field.

For sure, he had a high stall number to work with. But he did well. Being gelded has given him a new lease of life and I stick to my guns about him being able to land a good handicap pot this term.

Zhui Feng finished 3rd in first-time cheekpieces. It was sod’s law that I managed to desert him just prior to him running the kind of race I’d hoped for in the Lincoln and the Spring Cup. But it serves to illustrate the point that when you find one you believe is ready to go in, it pays to be patient.

Spring Cup form from Newbury was another prominent feature of Saturday’s outcome at Ascot. That race is working out well. And runners coming out of it over the next few weeks are deserving of scrutiny.

We cannot dwell on looking back today. We must look ahead. York’s 3-day Dante meeting gets underway on the Knavesmire tomorrow and I want to play in a couple of the races on Day 1….

  • Sticking with George….

I must stick with Richard Fahey’s GEORGE BOWEN in tomorrow afternoon’s renewal of the Infinity Tyres Handicap (2.55) and give him another crack at winning the big pot I believe is his destiny this term….

I’ve focused quite a bit of attention on this 5yo. You can catch up here and here if you want the real detail. But the bottom line is that this horse has been free-falling down the handicap since recording a career-high mark of 100 back in 2015.

Richard Fahey has said a few times that his horse needed a few pounds off his back. The handicapper obliged most-recently by dropping the horse another 3lbs following a down-the-field effort at York after attracting plenty of market support.

That puts the horse on a mark of 88. And he can be dangerous on that perch if he gets his act together. He works well at home and connections always fancy him – but he’s simply failed to deliver on the track.

Tomorrow Fahey reaches for the first-time hood – and it is hoped that headgear focuses the horse’s attention on the job at hand. Paul Hanagan retains the ride and the horse likes the track – he’s produced some decent efforts in decent handicaps off bigger marks than he runs off tomorrow.

Fahey will feel this race owes him a little something. His last 20-odd runners have produced a hatful of place finishes but just one win. George Bowen is certainly weighted to improve that winning record tomorrow and the 16s is a fair-enough each-way price….

  • An unexposed sort in the opener….

The opening race, the Sky Bet First Race Special Handicap (2.20) generally falls the way of an unexposed 4yo and I think Hugo Palmer’s QASSEM has a sporting chance of going well at an attractive each-way quote of 20s.

This will be only the horse’s second run for Palmer since arriving from Andre Fabre’s yard in France. All his work for Fabre was over trips ranging from 6f to a mile. But Palmer felt the horse was more about stamina than speed and he stepped the horse up to 12f on his debut for the yard at Doncaster at the back end of last season.

The horse kept on well-enough that day to suggest Palmer is onto something and he shows up here over a 10f trip that might prove just that bit more suitable.

The horse has been gelded since his last appearance on the track. That could squeeze out a bit more from a horse who is entitled to progress leaps and bounds anyway. Plus, Palmer has had the horse a few months now and will have learnt bits and pieces at home.

In short, this horse is an unexposed proposition at the trip and open to a tone of improvement.

On his first run for Palmer last season, he carried a claimer. Tomorrow James Doyle gets the ride. That doesn’t point to a sure-thing. But Doyle is highly thought of by Palmer and the pair have a strike-rate of 20% in tandem over the last couple of years.

On the face of it – 1 win from 20 runners over the last fortnight – Palmer doesn’t look like a form man. But over the last week his horses haven’t been beaten far and I’m happy enough at the price to bet that Palmer’s lot are going better than the bare figures suggest. 

  • Value in the Clipper….

Finally, in the Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes (3.30) there are a lot of older horses going to post and I prefer to stick with a younger animal.

12 of the last 14 renewals went to a 3- or a 4-yo. Not too many of those to pick from this time round but one of those in the mix really does appeal – William Haggas’s TASLEET at a very acceptable 16s.

He had a sweet enough sharpener in a small conditions field at Leicester at the end of last month. That was over 7f and he only got beat by Home of the Brave whose connections reckon he is up to G2 level if not better.

Tomorrow afternoon Haggas drops his charge back to 6f for the first time since he won over the trip at York last August and he also reaches for the first-time cheekpieces – which could produce improvement.

I think he’s a nice bet at the prices. It’s a simple and as complex as that.

The Contrarian Bet Box….

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

In the Infinity Tyres Handicap (2.55 @ York)....

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – GEORGE BOWEN each-way (16s generally)

In the Sky Bet First Race Special Handicap (2.20 @ York)....

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

In the Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes (3.30 @ York)....

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – TASLEET each-way (16s 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 thoughts on the action at York on Day 2.

Until then. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd