The contrarian word on the weekend action....

Last Updated: 02.02.2018

Friday, 2nd February 2018

The contrarian word on the weekend action….

A maximum field turns out for tomorrow’s Heroes Handicap Hurdle at Sandown (3.00) – attracted no doubt by a prize fund that has doubled in size this year....

Winning connections take home twice as much this year as last. As do the connections of placed horses. Total prize money weighs in at £100,000....

And the Sophie-Leech-trained MAN OF PLENTY is overpriced at an each-way price of 33s to bag his share of it....

This is a horse that doesn’t win very often. The last time he saw the winners’ enclosure was back in 2014....

But he’s been going well this term – producing competitive performances in a succession of decent handicaps....

This column backed him each-way at a big price at Ascot last-time-out in the G3 Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle....

Like all good each-way bets, he finished one place outside the frame that afternoon. But it was another decent performance and he can’t be written off tomorrow – despite his big price....

  • Making the adjustments....

The 9yo has been an absolute model of consistency this term and it would take a hard-hearted observer to argue that he doesn’t deserve to get his head in front in one of the valuable hurdle events....

Sophie Leech switches things around again tomorrow in a bid to identify the winning formula. The horse steps up in trip to 3-miles and the visor comes off.

This last adjustment leaves the horse in just a tongue-tie – and that’s a first-time situation since the horse last performed at 3-miles at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day 2017....

The horse gets the trip, don’t worry about that. And it might just be the fresh variable required tomorrow....

Man Of Plenty has been running well in his last few at trips around 2m and 2m4f without getting close enough at the business end of his races to land the telling blow....

At 3-miles things he will have just that bit more time and that could well prove to be the key to the improvement required and sought....

One thing doesn’t change. 7lb claimer Shaun Houlihan retains the ride....

His presence in the saddle ensures the horse effectively runs off 116 tomorrow. He gets weight from everything in the race....

That could well be a crucial advantage on suitable soft ground in race that hasn’t produced big weight-carrying winners in recent times. The 33s is a nice each-way price with 4-places up for grabs....

  • Two-against-the-field in the Coral Hurdle....

I’m going two-against-the-field in the Coral Hurdle at Leopardstown tomorrow afternoon (4.05).

My first pick is the Willie-Mullins-trained LOW SUN at a general 20s....

Gelded back in September, the 5yo disappointed on his seasonal return. But last time in first-time cheekpieces, he served notice of what he might prove capable of when 2nd to Hardback over course and distance at Christmas....

He was beaten narrowly close to home and only goes up 4lbs to 124. He’s lightly-raced, open to mounds of progression and he comes from the right yard....

With Paul Townend on his back, Bleu Berry looks the pick of the Mullins-contingent with D G Hogan booked for Low Sun.

On the face of it, this might appear to be a ‘spare’ for Hogan. But he can do the 9-11 where others riding in the race for Mullins tomorrow would be struggling.

Katie Walsh would have been an option at the weight. But she’s on DEAL D’ESTRUVAL for Mullins instead – this one carrying 10-00 and, like Low Sun, getting plenty of weight from plenty of opponents.

Walsh is a trusted go-to-rider for Mullins. If there’s a low-weight live one, you’d expect her to get a ride. So I want her assigned mount in my book too. At the 16s, the last-time-out winner – having just his second run for Mullins tomorrow and open to tonnes of improvement – is a fair price....

The Contrarian Bet Box….

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

In the Heroes Handicap Hurdle (3.00 @ Sandown)....

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – MAN OF PLENTY each-way (33s generally)

In the Coral Hurdle (4.05 @ Leopardstown)....

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – LOW SUN (20s generally) & DEAL D’ESTRUVAL (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 now.

I’ll be back a little later today with ATC Extra....

Until then. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd