The contrarian word on the weekend action....

Last Updated: 09.03.2018

Friday, 9th March 2018

The contrarian word on the weekend action….

Sandown hosts this season’s edition of the Imperial Cup (2.25) tomorrow – with the ground registering as soft....

Horses rated no higher than 135 and aged younger than 7 have won 11 of the last 13 renewals....

The stats are not an oracle, of course....

And what has happened before is no guarantee that it will happen again. If calling race were that straightforward, we’d all be millionaires....

But the historic record does offer a clear picture of what type of horse tends to win this big prize on the weekend ahead of the Cheltenham Festival – and there are several likely sorts that fit the general profile....

  • One from the yard with a track-record....

The Pipe clan has a potent record in this race and David Pipe, the current incumbent at Pond House, has won with 3 and placed with 4 of his last 16 participants....

He clearly knows how to find and prepare a horse suited to the Imperial Cup....

And he clearly likes having a crack at the bonus – the winner of the Imperial Cup gets a bonus of £100k if it goes on to win a race at the Festival....

Pipe’s runner at Sandown tomorrow – FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHT – holds entries in the County Hurdle and the Martin Pipe (named after David Pipe’s father) at Cheltenham next week....

But he’s likely to require a penalty to get into either one of those races, so you can expect him to be primed to go for gold tomorrow afternoon – and at 10s he represents a decent bet....

He’s progressed sweetly over hurdles since the turn of the year. Last time out he was only a length behind Le Patriote – fancied for tomorrow’s race – in race at Ascot that represented quite a step-up in levels....

That one of Dr Richard Newland’s is quite a bit more experienced than the Pipe horses and Friday Night Light can improve again for the additional experience....

He’s gone up 5lbs for that Ascot performance, but he meets Le Patriote on better terms at the weights and on a mark of 128 and carrying just 10-2, I think he’s potentially nicely weighted for tomorrow’s assignment.

I’m also interested in the fact that Pipe is tweaking things despite a solid run at Ascot....

Off come the cheekpieces and out comes the visor for the first-time with the standard tongue-strap....

Connections are throwing the dice in a serious search for that little bit extra that makes the difference in these big handicaps....

The Contrarian Bet Box….

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

In the Imperial Cup (2.25 @ Sandown)....

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHT (10s 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 today.

There’s no ATC Extra this afternoon. I’ll be back in your inbox on Monday with my take on the action on Day 1 at the Cheltenham Festival....

Until then. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd