The contrarian word on Day 1 at Royal Ascot....

Last Updated: 18.06.2018

Monday, 18th June 2018

The contrarian word on Day 1 at Royal Ascot….

The big handicaps at the 2018 Royal Ascot meeting begin on Day 1 with the Ascot Stakes (5.00) over the marathon (for flat horses at least) 2m4f trip....

I like to credit myself with a little imagination when it comes to my big-race betting. You will be a better judge of the truth in that claim than me....

At the very least, I certainly like to look beyond the obvious horses and prevalent market sentiment....

But pragmatism has its place too. Sometimes you can try too hard to come up with something different when the good bets are staring you in the face....

  • A shorter price can prove to be value too....

The man for this specific race over the last few years has been Willie Mullins....

His nine runners since 2009 have produced three wins and a place. Ryan Moore was on all three of the winners....

This time round, Mullins accounts for five of the 20 entries. He’s clearly keen on winning the race again....

But Ryan Moore rides only one of them and you can surely expect him to be on the one the yard fancy most. He certainly won’t be on a no-hoper....

So the fact that yard debutant CHELKAR is not the shortest of the Mullins-trained horses in the betting is interesting – certainly interesting enough for me to take this morning’s 8s about him with bet365....

It’s not a typical price for this column, but sometimes a shorter price can still turnout to be value and I expect the horse to shorten in the betting before tomorrow’s off....

  • Two-against-the-field....

I won’t be backing Chelkar each-way at the prices....

Instead, I’ll be going two-against-the-field and backing both to win....

The other one I like is LAGOSTOVEGAS – another Mullins-trained participant – at 10s. I like this mare. I think she’s classy and I reckon she has a big race in her....

She ran a cracker in last year’s Cesarewitch at Newmarket from the wrong side of the draw off 91....

And she can do it across-the-codes. Back in March she ran 5th in the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. She made plenty of ground up late on and was going as strong as ever at the line....

Her last run over hurdles in May was under-whelming for sure. But I reckon she will benefit greatly for the extra couple of furlongs tomorrow....

She was aimed at a G1 over 2m4f at Punchestown in April. She missed that engagement because she was reported stiff. But I reckon we can read some significance into the fact that the first time she was aimed at a G1 coincided with a first-time go at 2m4f. I think she was expected to improve significantly for the trip....

She can deliver on that expectation tomorrow afternoon on the flat turf.  She goes off just 93 in a first-time hood with Andrea Atzeni booked for the ride. I think she’s a live one....

  • A big price in the King’s Stand....

Earlier on the card in the G1 King’s Stand Stakes (3.40), I am intrigued that Aidan O’Brien has a trio of 3yos engaged and the one that intrigues me the most at the prices is DIFFERENT LEAGUE....

I can’t resist an each-way interest at the 33s with bet365 & BetVictor....

The filly ran a cracker to win the Albany at last season’s Royal meeting for French-handler Matthieu Palussiere – beating future G1 winner Alpha Centauri by a neck....

And she can go well again on the idiosyncratic Ascot surface tomorrow on what will be her 4th start for O’Brien....

The three previous runs came at Listed level and she’s maybe been just a little disappointing....

But they think a lot of her, the fast ground could well improve her, Ryan Moore has chosen to get on her and they’re doing something counter-intuitive and giving her this top G1 start at the bare 5f – the shortest trip she’s encountered since her debut in France....

Taking all those disparate factors together, there’s enough in the big price for me to take a speculative interest in a horse bought out of her French yard for 1.5 million guineas....

The Royal Ascot straight strip has worked the magic before and she’s a big price about it doing so again tomorrow....

The Contrarian Bet Box….

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

In the Ascot Stakes (5.00 @ Ascot).

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – CHELKAR (8s @ bet365) & LAGOSTOVEGAS (10s generally)

In the King’s Stand Stakes (3.40 @ Ascot).

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – DIFFERENT LEAGUE each-way (33 bet365 & BetVictor)

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.

Win, lose or draw – enjoy the racing....

I’ll be back in your inbox tomorrow with my contrarian take on Day 2 at Royal Ascot....

Until then. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd