Thursday, 24th August 2017
Mark Johnston has won tomorrow’s opener – the Skybet First Race Special Handicap (1.55) – a couple of times over the years and he’s produced a handful of additional performers who ran with credit….
I take LONDINIUM – his single runner in this year’s edition – to add to that record tomorrow at the generally-available 12s….
It is fair to say that the horse must be fit. Only Russian pole dancers work harder than Mark-Johnston-trained handicappers. And Londinium certainly doesn’t lack match practice.
In the space of just three days at the recent Gllorious Goodwood meeting, the 3yo produced win and a place.
He’s gone up 10lbs to a mark of 94 for those efforts – but he ran with the gusto of a horse who could have more to give yet – especially in the first of those two contests.
The soft ground at Goodwood clearly wasn’t an inconvenience to the horse – he won his maiden on heavy – but he’s versatile. There will still be some give in the ground at York tomorrow – even if there is no more rain forecast – and, in any case, this horse has also performed with credit on sounder surfaces.
He’s up against plenty of in-form horses tomorrow. And the bookmakers know it – hence their caution in a market where half a dozen are in at 8s or shorter this morning. But the 12s about Londinium seems a tad generous in my book.
The other one that could be underestimated at the prices is the William-Haggas-trained AL NEKSH – stepping up to the mile and a half trip for the first time. He can also be backed at 12s with Paddy Power and at 10s generally.
He disappointed last time at Newmarket in June when very fancied. But he had excuses and the time before that on seasonal debut – at York’s May meeting – he produced an eye-catching performance that suggested he will prove better than his current mark of 91.
Traditionally, Haggas does well at this meeting. And if his 4yo is back on-song, running off a decent break again, this step-up in trip will bring improvement and render the horse competitive.
This year’s G1 Nunthorpe Stakes is billed as something of a match between American-raider Lady Aurelia and the up-and-coming Battaash.
Fair enough. Both have shone brightly this term. But the American horse hasn’t been seen on a racetrack since mid-June and must overcome the rigours of another trip across the Atlantic. Whilst the younger horse has yet to dip his feet into G1 waters.
I can see why the market is sweet on both. I can see why they’ve been backed in to sub 2/1 prices. But I am compelled to take them on….
PROFITABLE has been kept fresh this term but has found one too good on each of the three occasions he’s run – Signs of Blessing in France in May, Lady Aurelia at Royal Ascot in June and then Battaash at Goodwood earlier this month….
On the face of it, Clive Cox’s charge must improve to overcome the front two in the market – both having already beaten him. And that’s a fair-enough point. But I think that’s possible.
I don’t think Profitable has run up to his absolute best this term. The ground might have been a little quicker than ideal at Ascot. And it was certainly slower than ideal at Goodwood.
Maybe somewhere in-between tomorrow on a track he’s already proven at can help him produce something better.
And let’s not forget, the front-two could both help this ultra-consistent type by under-performing. And, in any case, anything can go wrong at a short price in a 5f sprint.
I suppose my main contention is that at this morning’s 16s, Profitable is 8-times the price of his more fancied rivals. But I don’t believe he’s an 8-times lesser horse or that the gap he must bridge amounts to quite such a disparity.
The Contrarian Bet Box….
To recap on where my contrarian money will be going on Friday afternoon….
In the Skybet First Race Special Handicap (1.55 @ York)....
In the Nunthorpe Stakes (3.35 @ 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 the action on day 4 at York….
Until then. Stay tuned.