The contrarian word on the weekend action....

Last Updated: 12.01.2018

Friday, 12th January 2018

The contrarian word on the weekend action….

Alex Hales purchased TOPPER THORNTON for £13k in May last year in the belief that the horse was unexposed over staying trips....

First-time out for his new yard at Carlisle in November over 3m2f he produced a personal best effort in defeat to Harry The Viking – giving the winner weight....

Last time at Sandown in the London National he was beaten into 5th. But I think that was a run full of promise.

It was his first go at the 3m5f trip. Early-doors Daryl Jacob had him out the back. But he was always travelling nicely and worked his way into it – to the point where he was making ground on the leading group.

A mistake at one of the fences didn’t help his momentum. And he maybe had a little too much ground to make up with the race having developed at the front end. But he saw the trip out in my book and he wasn’t too far away at the end.

I think connections believe he got the trip – which is why they’ve sent him to Warwick for tomorrow’s Classic Handicap Chase (3.35). And at 16s I think he’s a nice price about a horse that does look set to improve for a real trip.

Hales has clearly improved the horse in the time he’s had him, and the Sandown run suggest there can be more to come yet off a mark of 131. I think he’s underestimated at the price.

  • Two-against-the-field....

I’m going to go two-against-the-field rather than stick with one selection and play for place money. I’m going to have another throw of the dice with Evan Williams’s ON THE ROAD at 16s and 14s....

I backed him last week in the Welsh Grand National – but he made a mess of a fence early doors and departed the race before it had even got started.

He’s an improving sort whose been doing the bulk of his chasing over trips around 2m4f. So, the 3m5f trip is a big step up – and it’s an interesting move from Williams.

The market appears to believe the horse might be found out stamina-wise. But I’m not too sure. Sired by Stowaway and coming out of a Gunner B dam, he is certainly bred for a trip.

He made his chase debut at 3m2f. He got out-stayed that day for sure and was sent back out over shorter. But he’s had another year to mature and strengthen-up since then and the fact that connections are targeting these stamina-sapping races is interesting....

The horse is bred for a trip and if he proves to get one then he will improve beyond what he’s produced so far. At the price, I am happy to give him the opportunity to prove it tomorrow off a mark of just 130.

The tongue-tie – applied for the first time at Chepstow last week – is on for the second time. The soft ground won’t bother the horse. I expect him to travel well, work his way into it and hopefully stay on strong.

The Contrarian Bet Box….

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

In the Classic Handicap Chase (3.35 @ Warwick)....

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – TOPPER THORNTON (16s generally) & ON THE ROAD (16s and 14s generally)

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. I’ll be back a little later today with ATC Extra – we’ll be targeting the Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle at Kempton.

Until then. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd

P.S. Keep an eye on your inbox tomorrow. I’ve got some exciting news to bring you about a new price-oriented sports-betting service that I rate very highly and will be putting to use over the next few weeks….