Friday, 19th May 2017
The Al Zubarah London Gold Cup at Newbury (2.55) might be a handicap race (one restricted to 3yos) but it’s been won by some smart prospects over the years – horses that have gone on to feature at the top level.
Subsequent multiple G1 winner Al Kazeem won it off a mark of 95 on just his 4th start in 2011. He went on to be rated as high as 126.
Another Roger Charlton inmate, Time Test, won the 2015 edition off 93. He went on to win a G2 and to run in multiple G1s – earning a career-high rating of 121.
Charlton has a cracking record in the race with 3 wins from his 4 representatives. He won it again last year with Imperial Aviator off 85. That one didn’t quite kick on like the previous two and is, I understand, now trained in Australia….
But Charlton doesn’t have anything in the race this time round. Nor does Ed Dunlop, whose previous his six runners producing two wins and two places. Nor does Sir Michael Stoute, whose previous nine runners produced two wins and five places….
It means some other trainer gets his time to shine this year….
Given the form of Andrew Balding’s runners right now, it is no surprise that his Mucho Applause is trading towards the top of the market. Balding and jockey Oisin Murphy had a double at York yesterday and the market expects another big-race bold showing at Newbury tomorrow.
Simon Crisford’s Century Dream is the other runner in the 14-runner field that the market has backed into a short price.
To be fair, it’s been a good race for backers who like to be with the short horses. Six of the last 11 renewals were won by horses in a top-2 market berth.
We could play it safe. We could be conservative. We could bend with the wind and go with one of the consensus picks. But that’s not how we do things.
Against the Crowd is a contrarian service. Where I see a crowd, I cross the road and walk the opposite way. Partly because I’m a founder-member of the awkward squad. But mostly because I know the value lies in doing what the rest of the market doesn’t.
The most-heavily-backed horses might have done well over the years. They might go well again this time round. But in a decent-sized field of progressive 3yos, the market is always going to have overlooked or over-priced something….
It’s the job of this service to set out to find that horse…. And I think the ground is the key to tomorrow’s race….
Mark Johnstone and Franny Norton combined on a nice winner at York in the Dante yesterday and I reckon TIME TO STUDY has a big chance to produce another big-race win for them at Newbury tomorrow.
He will be making his seasonal debut and must overcome a six-month lay-off. His fitness will have to be taken on trust.
But what he has n his favour is that as a son of Motivator he could well find himself advantaged by the soft ground at Newbury and better-suited to it than many of his opponents.
He’s bred to be a 3yo so the two wins he achieved as a juvenile last term came as a pleasant bonus for connections. He won the second of those comfortably on the all-weather. He did all that could be asked of him. But you can expect massive improvement on that this term.
Johnston had him spot-on for his debut last September. So, I’m hopeful he’ll have him right for tomorrow. And, if the rain has come at the right time (as I suspect), he can run a big race.
The 8s isn’t the greatest price in the world. But it’s acceptable give the ground. It’s not an each-way price, so I’m going to throw a second dart, back both to win and forego the opportunity to play for place money.
Roger Varian’s DEFOE is my second-pick at 10s. He too is making his seasonal debut. But he too – as a son of Dalakhani – will probably be better-suited by the underfoot conditions than most. And he’s another entitled to come on a bundle.
He looked promising at Epsom last September, where he caught the eye finishing well after not seeming to like coming down the hill -on just his 2nd run. That was over a mile. Next time he was stepped up to 10f at Newmarket but something went wrong that day. He wasn’t unfancied. But he ran a stinker.
That can happen with young and old horses. It doesn’t mean they are finished though. And I reckon this one remains a solid prospect. The Varian yard is certainly in-form and at a double-figure price from the inside stall, the horse represents a decent bet to resume his progress up the curve.
The Contrarian Bet Box….
To recap on where my contrarian money will be going tomorrow afternoon….
In the Al Zubarah London Gold Cup (2.55 @ Newbury)....
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 now.
I’ll be back in your inbox a little later today with ATC Extra.
Until then. Stay tuned.