Wednesday, 17th May 2017
Horses drawn low have had the best of it over the last decade in the Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Handicap (2.20) – tomorrow’s opener at York over the 5f trip.
I’m mindful of that. Also, that there’s been rain – sufficient to produce a going description of good to soft today for this afternoon’s card (Wednesday).
David O’Meara’s MOVE IN TIME could be the beneficiary and he’s the one I’m going to back at a general 20s.
This one-time winner of the Prix de l’Abbaye was officially-rated as high as 113 when at his peak. He’s 9 now and probably not quite that good – but he’s certainly not without hope back at handicap level.
He didn’t fire at all last year, putting in a sequence of below-par efforts. Often-times he was running at G1 and G2 level. He was out-matched, off-colour and the experience wouldn’t have done much to kindle his enthusiasm. At the back-end he put in a couple of shockers in handicap company.
The good news is that he’s dropped to 100 on the official ratings. That, a new season to tackle after a winter of rest and recuperation, a handy draw in stall 5 and ground that has gone the right way for him could well be a combination of factors that sees him outrun market expectation.
For sure, it’s his first-go back this term. But he’s run well fresh before. And if O’Meara has got him rolling again back at the ranch, that revised mark of 100 could see him produce a big performance first-time-up.
VICTORY BOND is a fair enough price at 12s in the Betfred TV Hambleton Handicap (4.05).
William Haggas was talking about this lightly-raced 4yo as a smart prospect even before he won his maiden at Ripon in April last year
That earned the horse an initial rating of 93 and a run in last year’s Dante Stakes at tomorrow’s venue….
He faded out of it that day and was only seen once more last term over 9f at Chantilly where he disappointed. That was June and connections pulled up the stumps for the season. Clearly something was amiss.
In the meantime, the horse has been gelded (that happened in August and might offer a clue as to the problem) and could be a different proposition this year.
He drops back to the mile trip here for the first time since making his debut at Newbury as juvenile in 2015. That day he was beaten by Algometer by less than a length. That one subsequently won a listed event when rated 109 and a G3 rated 105.
It’s an imprecise way of measuring things but that one’s record offers encouragement that Victory Bond could be well-treated back at the bare mile on a mark of 100 on handicap debut. Especially now that the rain has come. The 4yo has shaped like cut suits.
The 12s doesn’t represent an each-way price for me. So, I’m going two-against-the-field – backing both to win and foregoing the opportunity to play for place money.
My second selection is another lightly-raced type whose endured an interrupted career to date – Roger Varian’s WHITE LAKE at 14s.
Like Victory Bond he shows up for his seasonal reappearance completely unexposed in handicaps on a mark of 103.
He’s only had one go at handicap level. That came at Sandown last summer over a mile on soft ground. He was up against it having been drawn widest of all and held-up off the pace in a race that panned out up-front. But he showed enough to suggest he can prove competitive off his current mark.
It might be seasonal debut but the fact that the in-form Roger Varian reaches for the first-time headgear suggests there’s a little intent behind the entry – and that’s a plus. So too the cut in the ground which the horse handled well-enough at Sandown. He’s not got a bad draw either in stall 5.
The horse won his maiden on debut at York. So, the track is no issue either. We must take fitness on trust. But Varian is going well and there’s a lot to like about the bet at the price.
Both horses – win only. That’s how I’m playing this one.
The Contrarian Bet Box….
To recap on where my contrarian money will be going tomorrow afternoon….
In the Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Handicap (2.20 @ York)....
In the Betfred TV Hambleton Handicap (4.05 @ York)....
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 tomorrow with my take on day 3 at York’s Dante meeting.
Until then. Stay tuned.