The contrarian word on the weekend action....

Last Updated: 13.07.2018

Friday, 13th July 2018

The contrarian word on the weekend action….

All the pace is berthed in the high-numbered stalls for tomorrow’s Bunbury Cup at 1.40 at Newmarket....

One of those that can take advantage is the Rebecca-Menzies trained VON BLUCHER at a big 25s....

He caught my eye in last season’s renewal of the race when he got going a little too late but finished well in 6th. Had he been a little handier, he would have been a lot closer....

He gets to have another crack tomorrow at a track he clearly likes. P J McDonald – who was onboard last year – partners again. And the combo has the advantage of going into this season’s renewal 4lb better-off in the ratings than they were last time....

That drop down the weights has taken a bit of time to happen. The horse is on a streak of 14 losses since last winning on turf....

But I’m not going to concern myself with that. This horse has done most of his work – and all his best work – on a quick surface. And tomorrow will be the first time he’s raced on genuine quick ground since that appearance in this race last year....

Since then, he’s been kept to races where the ground had juice in it or the all-weather. Has that been a purposeful plan? Who knows. But he will appreciate a quicker surface tomorrow and I see him running a big race from stall 17.

  • Two-against-the-field in the Bunbury....

I could go in each-way on Von Blucher. The price is certainly big enough. And I imagine some of you will got hat way anyway....

But I’m gung-ho and I can’t resist going two against the field given the way the pace is distributed tomorrow....

There’s so much pace up in the high-stalls that closers must be of maximum interest and the other one I like at a price is BURNT SUGAR at 25s....

There’s no doubting this horse has talent and he’s dropped down the rankings to 97 for this having started the season on 103.

He’s now just 2lbs ahead of the mark where he won a big handicap over 7f at Leopardstown last September – having previously finished 2nd in a big handicap over 7f at Goodwood....

He wasn’t disgraced – doing his best work late off the fast pace – in the Victoria Cup at Ascot in May. And while he didn’t get into the Royal Hunt Cup, any horse can be forgiven that....

Paul Hanagan is an interesting booking. He’s won the race before and so knows how to get the job done. This is a dangerous horse and rider combination at a price in a race that should be run to suit.

  • Two-against-the-field in the John Smiths....

I can’t let the William Haggas-trained ACROSS DUBAI go off unbacked at 16s....

Haggas has a very good record in this race – winning it twice with 4yo runners since 2011 and getting competitive runs out of a couple more....

This horse looked a promising sort last term. He was gelded over the winter and we’ve only seen him twice so far this season....

If tomorrow’s race is the plan, then the 4yo’s seasonal debut over course and distance must count as a reconnaissance mission. The race didn’t work out – the steady place didn’t suit Across Dubai – but it served to blow the cobwebs away....

Next time at Chelmsford, the horse produced an improved display – one that suggests he could be hitting peak form this weekend....

He didn’t quite finish off in the manner you’d like and Haggas has reached for the first-time cheekpieces to focus the horse. They might just do the trick.

The other one I like is the Charlie-Hills-trained AFAAK stepping up to the 10f trip for the first time at 10s....

What’s not to like about this horse? The last two times, he’s won over the mile at York and then placed 2nd in the Royal Hunt Cup....

Both times he was going strong at the end and this step-up is well worth trying. If he improves for it, then he is going to be there or thereabouts....

The omens are good. He was 2nd over 9f in last season’s Silver Cambridgeshire at Newmarket. With another winter under his belt, the 10f trip might be just what he needs now....

The bottom line is that he’s a proven quality horse trying something that could well improve him again. A double-figure price is more than acceptable in that context....

The Contrarian Bet Box….

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

In the Bunbury Cup (1.40 @ Newmarket).

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – VON BLUCHER (25s generally) & BURNT SUGAR (25s generally)

Get the latest odds here >>

In the John Smith’s Cup (3.40 @ York).

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – ACROSS DUBAI (16s generally) & AFAAK (10s 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 a little later today with ATC Extra....

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

Until next time. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd