The contrarian word on the weekend action....

Last Updated: 16.02.2018

Friday, 16th February 2018

The contrarian word on the weekend action….

Blaklion is the horse dominating coverage of tomorrow’s G3 Grand National Trial at Haydock (3.15). And that is as it should be....

Last year’s 4th in the Grand National returned to Aintree in December to win the Becher Chase in impressive fashion and he’s currently the jolly at 10s for the big one back at Aintree in April....

Sam Twiston-Davies rides the horse tomorrow afternoon for the first time since 2015 – with a view to partnering the 9yo at Aintree. The rider says it is ‘kind’ of Paul Nicholls and the Ditcheat team to allow him to take the ‘opportunity’.

My personal view is that the association between Twiston-Davies and Nicholls is heading towards a conclusion – and kindnesses such as this will help smooth the road to an amicable parting of the ways. But my speculations are neither here nor there....

At this morning’s 9/4 there will be punters who consider Blaklion a steal for tomorrow afternoon’s contest. And that’s fair enough....

He’s done nothing but progress for 12-months and more, he’s got the numbers logged in the book and – despite having to give plenty of weight all round tomorrow – he’s the one to beat....

  • Obvious contenders....

The Dutchman and Wild West Wind are next in the betting....

The former returns to Haydock seeking to improve again on the back of a 13-length victory in the Peter Marsh Chase – a performance that saw him hoisted almost a stone in the handicap.

A wind-operation appears to have worked some magic with this horse and his yard has hit form over the last fortnight....

The latter is seeking to bunce back from a heavy fall at Chepstow in the Welsh Grand National at the start of last month. He was going nicely at the head of affairs before crashing out that day.

He’s normally a solid jumper and he’s been given plenty of remedial schooling back at base. Assuming the fall hasn’t left a mark, Tom George’s charge is an obvious contender....

All well and good. But the role of this column is not to put-up the obvious contenders or to follow the market money....

  • A horse at a wrong price....

The job here is to flag-up the horse at the wrong price and in tomorrow’s race SILSOL looks over-priced at 14s.

I thought he ran a cracker in the Welsh Grand National in January – finishing 5th on his first go over fences for 2-years and his first go at a trip beyond 3m2f....

Despite that performance, the handicapper dropped him to 144 – the mark he runs off tomorrow....

That’s 3lb lower than his previous lowest chasing mark and a full stone lower than the highest mark the horse achieved when racing over hurdles....

He was a decent performer over timber – winning the G2 West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby in 2016....

There’s a bit of class about the 9yo. He had a year out with tendon issues, but the Chepstow performance confirmed that issue is behind him now

With only five races to his name over fences, you’d expect there to be something to come. A mark of 144 offers opportunity. And I expect Paul Nicholls to capitalise at some point.

 No Bryony Frost taking off 5lbs tomorrow. Noel Fehily is an able deputy – well thought-of at Ditcheat. And the heavy ground will be very much in Silsol’s favour.

The Contrarian Bet Box….

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

In the Grand National Trial (3.15 @ Haydock)....

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – SILSOL (14s 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 now.

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

Until then. Stay tuned.

P.S

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Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd