24th November 2017
We head to Ascot tomorrow for our target race – the Shawbrook Handicap Chase (3.15).
It’s a slightly disappointing turnout for a race with prize money amounting to £100k – just 8 runners go to post in the class 2 event run over the 2m1f trip and 13 fences….
And trainers – often bellyaching about prize money – can’t point to the ground. It’s good to soft – as nice a racing surface as you can reasonably expect at this time of the year….
But no matter. We work with what is put in front of us….
Four of tomorrow’s contestants appeared in last season’s edition of the race – and the market is expecting the same outcome with Sire De Grugy going for back-to-back wins and heading this afternoon’s market at a best price 11/4.
You can’t knock the old soldier. The one-time Champion Chase winner is not the force of old but he’s still a class act – illustrated by tomorrow’s mark of 165.
That’s 5lb more weight than he carried to victory last year – and it makes his job that little bit more difficult.
He’s another year older too – turning 12 in the new year. And every visit to the well these days requires the bucket to be dropped that little bit deeper to find the water….
No doubt there is life in the old dog yet. But his time is coming to an end – if it isn’t already over – and, at the prices, I’m happy to take him on a veteran horse that was well-beaten on his seasonal reappearance – albeit over hurdles.
We’ll get to my selection for tomorrow’s race in a moment. First a word on the big race of the day at Haydock….
The Betfair Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle will be a real test on desperate ground tomorrow....
Fitness issues, weight-bearing issue and any issues with staying the 3-mile trip will all be found out on a surface that will really test fitness and stamina....
I’m going two-against-the-field - playing to win and foregoing the chance to play for place money….
I’m siding with two horses at nice prices – one has been prepped specifically this race and will relish conditions whilst the other has good reasons to improve well beyond the market’s expectation….
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….
Pauline Robson’s UPSILON BLEU was one of those horses that contested last season’s renewal. He ran no kind of race and was well-beaten.
He’s done the lion’s share of his racing up on the Northern tracks and the fact that this small yard is once again prepared to fill the tank on the horsebox and ship him down to Ascot for this same event suggest that connections are not convinced last season’s performance represents his true running….
He’s the ‘rag’ and unfancied at 16s this time. But he’ll be showing up a different horse.
Last year he turned up on the back of a beating over hurdles. This time around he turns out on the back of a promising showing at Ayr over fences – where he found one to good, gave it loads of weight but finished his race off nicely – an appearance that should have him stripping fitter for tomorrow’s assignment.
He’ll come on for that and in a small-field event where he can sit with the pace – or force it – he can outrun the odds this year. He makes for a decent each-way bet.
On a mark of 142 he’s certainly not out of it. In February at Doncaster he won a decent handicap off that mark – beating subsequent Aintree winner Double Ws whilst giving him 3lbs.
He’s up against better-rated and better-regarded horses for sure. But the price underestimates him and this ‘rag’ is an each-way shout for my money.
In tomorrow’s Shawbrook Handicap Chase (Ascot, 3.15)….
UPSILON BLEU @ 16s (Generally)
Standard place terms are 1/5 1-2-3. I’ll be going in each-way.
That’s all from me this week. Enjoy your weekend.