The contrarian word on tomorrow's Thyestes Chase....

Last Updated: 24.01.2018

Wednesday, 24th January 2018

The contrarian word on tomorrow’s Thyestes Chase….

The Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park (tomorrow 3.00) is one of the most prestigious prizes on the Irish programme and has been won over the years by the likes of Arkle, Flyingbolt and, more recently, Hedgehunter and Djakadam....

In recent years the race has become an informative source of clues for the Grand National at Aintree. Hedgehunter and Numbersixvalverde both won a Thyestes ahead of winning over the big fences....

Willie Mullins has been the dominant force in the race with six winners over the years. He has multiple entries tomorrow.

So too Gordon Elliott. There aren’t many big Irish handicaps he’s yet to win – but this one that has eluded him so far and he’ll be hoping to put that right tomorrow afternoon....

Whatever wins will have to prove well-matched to a slog through Gowran Park ground that is always testing at this time of the year.

They go at it over the 3m1f trip – but it is sure to feel like further. In addition to the ground, an end-to-end gallop is the general order of the day and any stamina issues will be found out....

In case you missed it....

Bookies are under fire right now. And it couldn’t happen to nice people. The blows are raining in from all sides....

One set of critics want FOBT stakes to be reduced. Now punters, pressmen and politicians are encouraging bookmakers to get a grip on their penchant for restricting stakes and closing the accounts of winning customers....

A select committee in the House of Lords heard evidence from punters, bookies and interested parties on Tuesday

Get more details here and here.

  • Taking on the favourite....

Teenage sensation James Bowen (claiming 3lbs) rides Out Sam for the first time on the 9-years-old’s second run for Gordon Elliott since switching from Warren Greatrex’s ministrations. The horse carries a featherweight and Elliott applies cheekpieces to the horse for the first time....

He got well beat on debut for his new yard at Leopardstown just after Christmas. He’ll have to improve on that showing. But the market has read the tea-leaves and likes what it sees. Out Sam been backed into favouritism and trades at 5s this lunchtime....

Fair enough. It wouldn’t surprise us if James Bowen’s big-race-winning form transferred from Britain to Ireland. It certainly wouldn’t surprise us if Elliott broke his duck in this race....

But this column is not about favourites and shorties. Our default setting is to immediately look elsewhere and at twice the price I prefer the claims of Our Sam’s stable-mate MONBEG NOTORIOUS.

The Gigginstown number one, Jack Kennedy, takes the ride on that one – suggesting he’s the pick of the five horses running the race under that ownership.

The 7yo comes into the race having produced a last time effort that suggests a mark of 137 could be on the low side.

He carries just 10-02, he’ll handle the ground no problem and a first-time visor could serve to focus the horse and eek out another improved effort.

  • Two against the field....

Another that could well at a big price is Paul Nolan’s FINE THEATRE at 16s.

He shaped nicely over hurdles on his first run of the season at Clonmel. Next time at Limerick he saw money but couldn’t deliver for backers. He lacked the necessary gear over a 2m3f trip that is shorter than idea.

Up at 3m1f tomorrow he can give a better account of himself at a track where he’s produced his best performances on my figures – both in 2m4f chases on heavy ground.

He’s another horse on a featherweight and Kevin Sexton is an interesting booking in the saddle. The former champion conditional has not found it easy since returning from a positive drug test.

Sexton’s had just a couple of rides in big races since – both courtesy of Peter Fahey – so this is a big opportunity for the rider who won the 2014 Troytown for Gordon Elliott – one he’ll be keen to make the most of.

I think the 16s about Fine Theatre is a decent price and I’ll be going two-against-the-field with my selections – backing both to win.

The Contrarian Bet Box….

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

In the Thyestes Handicap Chase (3.00 @ Gowran Park)....

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – MONBEG NOTORIOUS (10s generally) & FINE THETARE (16s 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 today.

Until then. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd

P.S. Have you had a look at the market for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham in March? I think there’s a ‘live’ one in there at a big each-way price. More on that tomorrow....