The contrarian word on the weekend action....

Last Updated: 23.02.2018

Friday, 23rd February 2018

The contrarian word on the weekend action….

The market likes improving and lightly-raced sorts in handicaps....

And that’s how it is in tomorrow’s renamed Betdaq Handicap Chase at Kempton tomorrow afternoon (3.35).

Harry Fry’s unbeaten young chaser Acting Lass – he’s won 3 from 3 and landed a decent pot at Ascot last time out – has been installed as the 7/2 jolly....

Nigel Twiston Davies’s Tintern Theatre is another improver prominent in the betting.

Go Conquer and Master Dee, up toward the top of the betting, are both in double-figures in terms of chase runs – but neither could be described as fully-exposed on 12 and 11 runs respectively.

The older and ore exposed types are further down the list and that’s probably fair enough based on recent showings....

  • Taking on the jolly....

I get the market’s case about Acting Lass....

Three chase runs since November have produced three wins. The last one was a decent class 2 event at Ascot for good money....

But I am always happy to take on inexperience in big handicaps. Sometimes that policy goes wrong. But it is generally the right thing to do....

At 7/2 Acting Lass is way too short for my money....

Tomorrow’s race represents another step-up in class. This race is much more competitive than the Ascot affair. Only 6 runners went to post that day. Tomorrow a field of 15 goes to post – and there are plenty of battled-hardened war veterans among them....

Acting Lass hasn’t yet raced against more than half a dozen opponents over fences. He has never had to jump under the same pressure that will be exerted tomorrow or at the pace he’ll be asked to operate at....

I’m not saying he can’t step up to the plate. I’m not saying he can’t improve for the experience. I’m not saying he can’t win....

What I am saying is the price is too short. It doesn’t appropriately factor in the scale of the challenges tomorrow’s race will present to an inexperienced horse.

I am happy to take the horse on....

  • The contrarian view....

Warren Greatrex’s THEATRE TERRITORY is inexperienced too – the mare has had only four goes over the bigger obstacles....

She’s improved for each – barring an under-par performance on heavy ground at Wincanton over Christmas....

The performance that catches my interest is the one she produced behind Ms Parfois at Cheltenham in mid-December....

She was beaten just a length that day. And the front two were well in advance of the rest. Ms Parfois has gone on to win two more and was tried in a G2 last weekend.

She’s now rated 146 over fences and in that light Theatre Territory’s mark of 132 for tomorrow’s event at Kempton looks plenty workable....

She’s held her form well too. Last month she was staying on at the end of a 2m5f race at Cheltenham – finding one too good again. The step up to 3-miles tomorrow ought to improve her.

Like Acting Lass, Theatre Territory is going to have to step-up and meet new challenges that will question her inexperience tomorrow. Unlike Acting Lass, the Greatrex horse will have to do it without any actual experience of winning a chase....

But at 12s – more than three times the price of the Fry horse – I’m willing to go in. She’s at the bottom of the weights, Greatrex has applied first-time cheekpieces and the new trip is a plus. Sam Whaley Cohen takes off 3lb – and that’s helpful too.

  • Two-against-the-field....

The 12s is not an each-way price for me and I prefer to go with two-against-the field – backing both win only....

My second selection is the Paul Nicholls-trained ART MAURESQUE. He fell at the first fence at Ascot back in November when tried at 3-miles for the first time – and he wasn’t seen after that until he turned out at Kempton last month for a Listed event over the 2m5f trip....

He was beaten 8-lengths that day. But the horse he chased home was the very smart northern horse Waiting Patiently who last week won a G1 and earned himself a revised chase mark of 170....

In that context, Art Mauresque ran well at Kempton. I know the team at Ditcheat were pleased with the way he jumped, and he is a nice price at a general 12s to build on that return tomorrow on another go at 3-miles....

He hasn’t won since October 2016, but he has been up as high as 156 in the ratings in that time – probably a tad too high.

He’s back down to his last winning mark of 150 tomorrow and that gives him every chance on drying ground that he will certainly appreciate....

The Contrarian Bet Box….

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

In the Betdaq Handicap Chase (3.35 @ Kempton)....

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – THEATRE TERRITORY (12s generally) & ART MAURESQUE (12s 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.

Get the latest odds here >>

  • 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

P.S. Look out for me in your inbox on Monday. I’ll be bringing you a second KISS angle for the handicaps at next month’s Cheltenham Festival. I brought you the first angle yesterday. If you missed that, catch up here....