3rd November 2017
The Byrne Group Handicap Chase at Ascot tomorrow (2.25) provides our value-betting target this weekend….
The Listed-class contest for horses aged 4yo+ is run over the extended 2-mile trip. A field of 11 goes to post….
We might be at the back-end of the year but the ground at Ascot remains on the fast side. Underfoot conditions at the track are described as good (good to firm in places).
Horses that need to get their toe in to shine at their brightest will probably find more suitable days and assignments in the weeks and months to come....
Punters are giving another chance to the Paul Nicholls-trained Marracudja.
He got beaten first-time out this term at Sandown having been sent off favourite in a class 3 handicap – but he’s top of the market again. Punters expect him to atone….
And fair enough. That Sandown race was the 6yo’s first go in handicap company over fences and he wasn’t beaten far off 139 by a horse with an edge in fitness.
He’s up to 141 for tomorrow but that shouldn’t be a problem. He was up as high as 147 when tried in G1 and G2 company at novice level last term.
This time last year Nicholls was aiming for spring targets at Cheltenham and Punchestown. That didn’t pan out but, given that ambition, you’d expect this horse to be up to winning a handicap off 141. And the yard is going well.
That said 11 runners go to post. Hardly a big field but more opponents than this horse is accustomed to running against over fences. That could be a bugbear.
In any case, handicaps are almost always more competitive than the market would have you believe. He’s short enough for a horse that hasn’t regained the winning habit in a year….
Calipto is an interesting presence in tomorrow’s field….
He was a useful hurdler and finished 3rd in the 2014 edition of the G1 Anniversary 4yo Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree. At his height he was rated 149 over timber….
He’s a 7yo now and his future appears to lie over fences. He’s also with a new yard – having switched from Paul Nicholls to Venetia Williams in February….
He’s had two runs for her – he produced a decent 6th in the Grand Annual at the Festival on debut for the yard and then he fell at Ayr in April.
He starts this term on a chase mark of 138. That’s 11 pounds below what he achieved over hurdles and 5lb below the high-point he’s achieved over fences.
He’s only gone over fences 6 times, there is scope for much more to come and, at some point, you’d expect Venetia Williams to capitalize on what looks like a more than fair mark.
He’s certainly one to be aware of. I think the ground will be too quick for him tomorrow. But over the winter on a surface with some cut, he’s going to challenging for a big handicap pot.
We’ll get to my selections for tomorrow’s target race in a moment….
Ascot provides a good card tomorrow and there are two additional handicap events offering value-betting opportunities….
The Sodexo Gold Cup offers the 3-mile chasing handicappers an early-season big prize to target – and I’m siding with one at a double-figure price….
Jenkins is all the rage for the William Hill Handicap Hurdle – but he’s priced-up on promise rather than delivery and I’m opposing him with two-against-the-field at decent prices….
You can get immediate access to these extra bets on the website when you take a FREE 14-day test drive of my Against the Crowd service….
There’s a preponderance of hold-up horses in tomorrow’s field and a fair number of horses that haven’t been seen this term and might be lacking an edge in fitness….
One that can take advantage of both factors is Nigel Twiston’ Davies’s LITTLE POP who can be backed at a reasonable 12s….
He’s been contesting lesser events over the summer but gradually climbing up the weight scale – and given how busy he’s been, you’d expect him to be fitter than a lot of these.
He can capitalize on that. Especially if he gets his own way up front. He likes to dominate. And that could happen tomorrow. There won’t be too many taking him on for the lead. Speredek is one that might but he generally needs his first run and probably won’t be serving it up piping-hot all the way.
This is a real step-up for Little Pop, but I suspect the assignment is a well-considered choice by a yard in good form early-doors and looking to nick a big prize and some good money against opposition still to get rolling at full tilt.
In tomorrow’s Byrne Group Handicap Chase (Ascot, 2.25)….
LITTLE POP @ 12s (Generally)
Standard place terms are 1/5 1-2-3. That’s not an each-way price for me. I’ll be backing win only.
That’s all from me this week. Enjoy your weekend.