Thursday, 16th November 2017
Only 9 go to post for tomorrow afternoon’s 2-mile handicap at Cheltenham – the BetVictor Handicap Chase (1.50).
But that’s not a problem. Over the jumps we can’t always rely on the mega-big fields we get in the flat handicaps.
And, in any case, if there’s a bet to be had at a decent price, it doesn’t really matter how many runners are contesting the race. We go in anyway....
Paul Henderson won the race last term with Un Beau Roman....
The 9yo turns out again this year and on a mark of 126 – 2lbs below the mark he won it off last year – there will be pockets in the market that see him as a player....
But I’m not confident about him. Last term he showed up having been racing throughout the summer months. That’s not the case this time round. He’s had the summer off and has had two runs to improve his fitness – one at Newton Abbot and another at last month’s Cheltenham meeting....
He got smashed 40+ lengths on both occasions. And its hard to see him improving sufficiently between the last run and tomorrow to enable him to put in a repeat of last season’s effort....
But Henderson runs another horse tomorrow – DOITFORTHEVILLAGE. And he’s my preference at the general 7s.
It’s not the kind of fancy price we tend to be associated with at Against the Crowd. But in a 9-runner race it is a fair price.
He too showed up at Cheltenham last month as a preparation for this event -after blowing the worst of the cobwebs away in a hurdle race at Warwick. And he got beaten too – to the tune of 20-lengths.
It was his first look at the Cheltenham fences and, on ground that would be a bit to quick for him, he was out of his comfort zone and made a few mistakes.
But he stuck to his task, he got around, he kept on at the finish – and he will have learnt something he can put to good use tomorrow afternoon.
Underfoot conditions will be a little more to his liking tomorrow. The track is described as good to soft today and with some rain forecast for tomorrow afternoon it is likely he will get that bit of cut that he needs to slow things down a little and produce his best effort.
He’s had 13 chases but remains open to improvement. He had a good year last year – producing 5 wins and he’s risen 30lbs up the handicap since last May.
He gave notice of what he might be capable of when running in last season’s Red Rum Handicap Chase at Aintree – his most serious assignment over fences to date.
He was travelling very sweetly and making a forward move when he got bumped and tripped on landing four fences from home. We’ll never know how close he might have got that day – but he advertised his potential.
He stands every chance of delivering on that promise tomorrow. This has been his intended early-season target for a while and the 8s is a fair price in the context of the race.
The Contrarian Bet Box….
To recap on where my contrarian money will be going tomorrow afternoon….
In the BetVictor Handicap Chase (1.50 @ Cheltenham)....
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 Saturday’s handicap action at Cheltenham.
Until then. Stay tuned.