The contrarian word on Day 2 at Cheltenham....

Last Updated: 13.03.2018

Tuesday, 13th March 2018

The contrarian word on Day 2 at Cheltenham….

The Cheltenham Festival starts this afternoon....

Access my advice for the Ultima Handicap Chase here....

Today’s column is focused on tomorrow’s Coral Cup (2.50).

We nail our colours to the mast early doors – to bag the best prices about our fancies....

  • No mad rush....

The first two days at the Festival are quiet for us....

I don’t place bets for the sakes of it – just to tick boxes....

I’m primarily interested in the open-age handicaps....

At the Festival, most of those are run on Thursday and Friday – the Pertemps Final, Brown Plate, Kim Muir, County Hurdle, Martin Pipe & the Grand Annual....

So, it gets busier from here. Plenty to come. No mad rush....

  • Ahead of time....

The rain has temporarily relented. The Met Office forecast that rain will fall again early on Thursday....

Until then, the skies will be bright. But we can’t expect the ground to suddenly right itself....

There’s a lot of moisture in the turf and conditions will remain softer than usual tomorrow....

Horses suited to such ground are advantaged. Some can be bagged at nice prices....

  • KISS-angle candidates....

Ahead of the meeting we highlighted KISS-angles that might prove interesting....

The first involved Willie Mullins and handicappers returning off a 70+ day break....

The second revolved around Nicky Henderson when he puts claimers on his Festival handicappers....

Max Dynamite qualifies on the first angle in tomorrow’s Coral Cup. William Henry qualifies on the second.

Both are short enough and I’m happy to watch and oppose....

But if you want to follow the stats – and they make for impressive reading – these are your horses....

  • Rarely so straightforward....

It is Max Dynamite who heads the Coral Cup market at 7s and 8s generally....

He runs out of the Mullins yard – along with 4 stablemates – he carries the Ricci silks and he’s the choice of mount for Ruby Walsh....

The market is sweet on him. But at the price, in a 20-odd runner Festival handicap, I can happily oppose him....

Such races are rarely so straightforward as the pre-race betting suggests....

There’s always one or two lurking down the price-list – horses the market is overlooking, ignoring or under-estimating.

They are the horses I want to dig out....

  • Off the radar....

I like BLEU BERRY – another of the Mullins contingent – at a general 33s....

This horse is so off the radar that Oddschecker haven’t included him in the market. But the horse is 33s with BetVictor, Paddy Power and others....

Last season, the 7yo won 3 of 4 starts – including a G2 at Fairyhouse. When Mullins sent him out in search of his biggest pot to date, he stepped him up to 2m4f. I think they expect improvement for the extra yardage....

That race didn’t pan out. He was well beaten – possibly because of better ground. Most of his racing has been done on testing surfaces....

The horse dropped back to 2m for his only assignment this term. He didn’t produce. The only mitigating factor is that he needed it off a 281-day break....

I can ignore a poor effort if I can see reasons why the horse can bounce back – and I can get a price about it doing so....

Tomorrow’s step up to 2m5f in combination with underfoot conditions give the horse every chance of being seen to best effect and the 33s underplays that....

I believe the horse will run a big race under Paul Townend....

  • Two-against-the-field....

In a 26-runner field, I want a couple running for me and Nicky Henderson’s FIXE LE KAP is my second pick at quotes ranging from 16s to 20s....

A little something must be taken on faith because the formbook tells us his two runs were disappointing....

Chasing was the intention early in the season. But he’s back over hurdles because connections want to preserve his novice chaser status. Fair enough....

He was well-beaten over timber last time at Ascot – without regular rider Daryl Jacob. But that was his first run off a break and a wind-op. He was entitled to need it and it should put him spot-on for tomorrow’s assignment....

He has Festival experience – running a decent race in the 2016 Fred Winter. And he has other bits of form that suggest he’s a decent horse waiting to happen....

He ran Frodon to half a length off levels over hurdles in 2016. And he got beaten just a length in last season’s Imperial Cup by London Prize – giving 10lbs....

He’s suited to a softer surface and with last month’s run under his belt, he should be ready to go. I know Daryl Jacob is excited to get back on him....

The 20s and 16s are reasonable quotes about a horse that could be in advance of his current mark.

The Contrarian Bet Box….

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

In the Coral Cup (2.50 @ Cheltenham)....

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – BLEU BERRY (33s generally) & FIXE LE KAP (16s & 20s 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….

Getting the best value on every bet at the Festival is part of the game.

The little extras – free bets, bonus prices, money back on losers, enhanced place terms and all those other little cherries – can make the difference between winning and losing. They can all add up to a big result....

Each day of the Festival we’re highlighting the best offers, bonuses and concessions we can find....

Before you place any bet this week, check that info out....

You might find something that helps turn a good bet into a great bet.  

That’s all from me for today....

I’ll be back tomorrow with the contrarian word on Day 3 at the Festival....

Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd