The contrarian word on the weekend action....

Last Updated: 05.01.2018

Friday, 5th January 2018

The contrarian word on the weekend action….

It’s going to be extremely testing at Chepstow tomorrow for the rescheduled renewal of this season’s Welsh Grand National (2.05).

They were talking yesterday about the track being at ‘field capacity’ in terms of water. That means it’s not waterlogged – but it is saturated....

Strong winds are forecast for the rest of today and into tomorrow. They will help dry the surface off. But it’s still going to be a murderous test over the 3m6f trip and 22 fences on an extreme surface at a track that is extreme in terms of heavy going to begin with....

  • Weight is a heavy burden....

It generally pays to be handy in this race. It’s hard to make up ground in the late stages and that will be doubly so tomorrow on extreme heavy ground.

Any horse carrying a big weight is going to have to produce a gargantuan performance to sit with the pace and sustain his effort all the way to the line....

I’m not saying it can’t be done. Just that I wouldn’t fancy the job myself and I don’t fancy betting on it. Rock the Kasbah clearly had a big chance. But he’s been pulled because of the weight he was set to shoulder. Weight is a big disadvantage tomorrow....

ALFIE SPINNER is 13-years-old, but he gave no sign last time that his fire had dimmed when following home Wild West Wind in the trail for tomorrow’s race at Chepstow last month....

He was only beaten a length and three parts over the 3-mile trip, but stamina is his ace card and the extra 5 and a half furlongs on tomorrow’s desperate surface give him every chance of bridging that gap.

Had the trail race been run over tomorrow’s race I think the result might have been different. So, I’m more than interested in the fact that his conqueror is heading into tomorrow’s race at the top of the market at 8s whilst Alfie Spinner can be backed at 25s. I think that’s a bit of value.

Kerry Lee – and her father before her – have some form in this race. They know what it takes to win, and they know how to prepare one to do it. Kerry Lee describes herself as ‘very hopeful’. I think he’s here to have a serious crack at it.

I also want to back ON THE ROAD at 25s. He’s mainly been running at trips short of 3-miles in his chase career to date – but he was sent out at 3m2f on his chase debut and he’s been shaping like a horse that will handle a real test of stamina. The step-up tomorrow could suit him and improve him in leaps and bounds.

He should be travelling comfortably early doors. He won’t mind the ground one bit and it could well assist him later in the game. Grinding things out is part of his game.

Evan Williams has applied a first-time tongue-tie and assigned top 5lb claimer Mitchell Bastyan to the cockpit. The 8yo is a progressive chaser, carrying a dangerous weight and doing something different. I think he’s a big price and could produce a run well in advance of his price.

  • A race for the old boys....

Down at Sandown we have a clutch of old warhorses going to post for this season’s Final of the 32Red Veterans’ Handicap Chase (3.00).

The ground down there is heavy too and 15 horses – all of them familiar to any observer with more than a passing interest in the racing – will slog it out over the 3-mile trip, the 22-fences and the stiff uphill finish....

The top of the market horses are the ones you’d expect; the ones that have been showing up well in decent races this term – Gas Line Boy, Benbens and Perfect Candidate.

Given the ages of the horses in this race, evidence of retained enthusiasm for the game is a key factor – and each of those tick the box. You can’t argue with the sentiment....

  • Sticking with a horse they’ve persevered with....

But handicaps are handicaps. There’s always something lurking further down the order and I can’t resist having a bet on Gary Moore’s VINO GRIEGO at 25s....

This horse is 13 now and has had a tonne of problems in his time – problems necessitating long breaks from the track. The most recent was a 735 day lay-off which he returned from in November.

Yet still they persevere. Either someone doesn’t know when to throw the towel in. Or connections still retain faith in the old boy – and believe he has another big day in him somewhere along the line. And I’m minded to side with the latter assessment.

The horse was well-thrashed on his return. But last time at Lingfield over an inadequate 2m4f trip he was much better, and he can progress again for that effort.

If you were going to design a race for the horse, tomorrow’s contest would be it. He loves Sandown (and his trainer enjoys a winner there), 3-miles is his trip and he handles the ground better than plenty of the opposition will.

He’s out of the handicap but the booking of 7lb claimer Jonjo O’Neill more than compensates for that and he’s just about as low in the rankings as he has ever been. He’s carrying a featherweight and that must be viewed as an advantage on the heavy ground.

This horse has always been something of a character. He’s had a bad press on occasion. But when he got into a rhythm over his fences he could serve it up.

I’m taking a little on trust, and reading between the lines, but if he’s on a going day tomorrow then his price is very generous.

The Contrarian Bet Box….

To recap on where my contrarian money will be going tomorrow afternoon….

In the Welsh Grand National (2.05 @ Chepstow)....

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – ALFIE SPINNER (25s generally) & ON THE ROAD (25s generally)

In the 32Red Veterans’ Handicap Chase (3.00 @ Sandown)....

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.

  • The last word….

That’s all from me for now.

No ATC Extra today. I’ll be back next week....

Until then. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd

P.S. If you’re betting the Welsh Grand National then consider opening a new account with Racebets. Do that, bet £10 on the race and Racebets will reward you with THREE FREE £10 BETS to use as you please. Bet with the bookie’s money here....