Wednesday, 12th July 2017
In the big-field handicaps my principal objective is to seek out reasons why an individual horse might outrun the market’s valuation of his chances….
There are any number of ways of approaching that task. It’s never entirely straightforward. But, in short, I’m looking for some angle, condition or circumstance that might enable a horse to produce a performance that goes above and beyond the market’s expectations….
The market is basically a numerical expression of a collection of arguments. And the market isn’t stupid. It’s relatively efficient. It gets plenty right….
Take tomorrow’s John Deere Handicap (4.35) on Day 1 of the July meeting at Newmarket. The market has latched on to the likely types.
It’s not hard to make a case for Roger Varian’s lightly-raced and progressive Jumira Bridge or his stablemate Compass Scoobie with Ryan Moore up. Shamson and Ice Age both turn out on the back of solid performances….
No doubt plenty of analysts and punters will concur with the overall view and nail their colours to one of those masts….
But the job of this column is not to follow the money. This column exists to challenge market sentiment and to dig-out the horse the market might have got wrong….
GO FAR is the one I like at the prices. He can be backed right now at a general 16s. And with 16-horses going to post as of now there are 4 places to play for. I’ll be going in each-way.
Alan Bailey’s 7to turns up on mark of 96 which is in and around where he’s been on the scale for a couple of years. In most books, he’s a fully exposed runner and the handicapper has the measure of him.
Fair enough, but he’s shown he can be competitive on that perch. Back in May he produced a couple of decent performances.
He wasn’t too far in arrears to Mr Lupton (now rated 112) and Eastern Impact (now 103) at Newmarket. Then at Goodwood he placed behind Boy At The Bar and Vibrant Chords.
Both those races were run at the 6f trip he’s been running at for most of his career. In his early days, he was campaigned primarily at 7f before stepping back to sprints….
But tomorrow he steps back to 5f for just the 6th time in his career and for the first time on turf in 2-years. And the minimum trip might be just what he needs to lift-off his current plateau.
My reading of his performances this term is that he hasn’t been finishing his race off at the 6f trip.
At Newmarket and Goodwood, he was very much on the premises heading into the final furlong – but couldn’t sustain his effort in the final 220 yards….
It was a similar story at Newmarket last time in June where he was 6th of 13 and beaten 5.5 lengths. His challenge petered out in the final furlong.
I think he’s well worth a crack at 5f. Alan Bailey appears to concur. And it could be the factor that enables the horses to be competitive at the death of a race. It could be the factor that enables him to outrun his price….
7lb claimer Joshua Bryan has had the ride on the horse of late. But not tomorrow. Martin Harley takes the assignment….
It maybe that Bryan was unavailable. He’s booked to ride at Carlisle for Andrew Balding – his principal source of rides.
If that’s the case, then it is mildly interesting that Bailey hasn’t opted for another claimer….
Instead, he’s turned to Harley – a rider who knows the horse well and who was riding him when he won the Bronze Cup at Ayr back in 2015.
It is entirely possible to read way too much into the merry-go-round that are jockey bookings. With the smaller yards, it is often hard to distinguish between bookings that are of genuine significance and bookings that amount to mere spare rides….
But I am always mindful of winning formulas. Trainers are like anybody else in that they return to things that worked in the past when looking to make something work again.
Harley is a good rider and he’s worked the oracle on the horse before. His presence in the saddle for this crack at 5f interests me.
The Contrarian Bet Box….
To recap on where my contrarian money will be going tomorrow....
In the John Deere Handicap (4.35 @ Newmarket)....
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 the action on Day 2 at Newmarket’s July meeting.
Until then. Stay tuned.