The contrarian word on the weekend action....

Last Updated: 09.02.2018

Friday, 9th February 2018

The contrarian word on the weekend action….

If there’s one trainer who knows how to target the Betfair Hurdle (3.35 Newbury) effectively, that trainer would be Gary Moore....

His last dozen representatives in the race produced three wins and two places....

And, on top of that, Chris Pea Green produced a decent-enough performance when beaten in the 2014 edition of the race....

Moore doesn’t make a habit of sending no-hopers into this contest. Quite the opposite....

I don’t know if he has some special fondness for the race. But he has the knack of finding one for it.
Anything he saddles merits respect and can be expected to give a good account of itself...

And, with that in mind, KNOCKNANUSS at this afternoon’s 14s is a fair price to further strengthen Moore’s glowing race record....

  • The number bods won’t like it....

The out-and-out stats boys won’t like this selection. I sense a collective shaking of heads and scratching of chins....

Knocknanuss fails to tick a significant box....

At 8-years-old he is not a typical Betfair Hurdle winner. Younger horses are the in-thing for this contest....

All the last 11 horses to emerge from the race victorious were aged either 5- or 6-years-old.

That’s a strong trend. The stats-boys will want to bet on it continuing. That’s how the stats-boys are. That’s how they work. The numbers dictate. And, fair enough, sometimes the numbers point in the right direction....

But, like I said yesterday, it ultimately boils down to the horse....

And Knocknanuss is not typical of a horse his age – most of which have already shown the handicapper their hand long ago....

Knocknanuss has only had 4 hurdle runs to date (take note that 8 of the last 11 race winners had raced six times or fewer over hurdles) and he’s still very much on the upgrade....

  • More to come....

This horse is reported as not being easy to keep sound. And Moore hasn’t overused his horse this term....

He wasn’t seen until December – but he was seen three times that month. That’s a sign both that Moore has got the horse fit and is eager to work the tool while that remains the case....

The horse appeared twice in a fortnight in novice events – improving markedly for the first run....

But it was his next-time-out effort that set the stage for bigger and better things....

On Boxing Day at Fontwell in a first-time handicap, this son of Beneficial won easy....

Okay, it was only an egg and spoon race – but he gave weight to all but one opponent and spanked them 7-lengths and more. He basically did it smoking a cigar on a mark of 124....

The form of that Fontwell race hasn’t worked out as you’d like but the commanding nature of the victory suggests there’s a lot more to come yet....

A hike of 11lbs might still leave this horse with plenty of slack to take up....

And let’s think about it logically for a moment. Is Gary Moore going to show his hand and tear the backside out of his charge in a £5k assignment at Fontwell?

No, there’s going to be desert to be had somewhere along the line....

And a race in which Gary Moore has proved to be such a shrewd and effective operator in the past is a good place to start – especially at a double-figure price....

  • Two-against-the-field....

The price about Knocknanuss isn’t an each-way price for me and I’m going two-against-the-field with Harry Fry’s MISTERTON as my second selection at 18s....

He’s not been seen since finishing a close 2nd in the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham – a career-best produced from a pound out of the handicap....

Misteron and the winner Elgin pulled a few lengths clear of the rest that afternoon. Elgin is now rated 151....

And Old Guard, back in 3rd that day at Cheltenham and beaten 6-lengths, subsequently franked the form with a handicap win off 149. He’s officially rated 156 now....

It all serves to suggest that Misterton’s mark of 142 for Saturday gives him a degree of margin to work with and Fry – who targets the decent handicap hurdles effectively – can capitalize....

The horse is running off a break. But don’t let that put you off. The 7-year-old goes well fresh.

Like Knocknanuss, Misterton is the wrong age for the number bods. But, like Knocknanuss, he’s a lightly-raced older horse.

I think the Fry-horse is a fair bet at the price....

The Contrarian Bet Box….

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

In the Betfair Hurdle (3.35 @ Newbury)....

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – KNOCKNANUSS (14s generally) & MISTERTON (18s generally)

Get the latest odds here >>

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.

No ATC Extra this afternoon. I’ll be back in your inbox next week....

Until then. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd

P.S. We all like a cherry. Racebets are providing one this weekend. Open a new account with them, bet £10 on the Betfair Hurdle and they’ll give you £30 in free bets. Result! Get everything you need here....