The contrarian word on Day 1 at York....

Last Updated: 21.08.2018

Tuesday, 21st August 2018

The contrarian word on Day 1 at York….

As part of last week’s ATC coverage, I mentioned that Michael Dods was a man whose horses were worthy of consideration in the handicaps this week....

I also mentioned that Silvestre De Sousa was the weighing-room inhabitant currently offering most advantage to top-level handicappers....

I didn’t plan it this way, but Dods and De Sousa – who don’t pair-up very often at all – combine in tomorrow’s card-opening Sky Bet & Symphony Group Handicap (1.55) at York on HOLMESWOOD....

It could turn out to be a significant booking....

  • All systems go....

You might argue that the De Sousa booking is a simple and straightforward case of the top-jockey bagging a spare ride. No more, no less....

That’s always a possibility. But it’s not one I buy into myself....

Surely Andrew Mullen would have been a more obvious rider for Dods?

Dods has used him plenty of times over the last couple of years – but instead of riding Holmeswood, Mullen is booked to ride a spare for Mick Easterby....

That tells me that the De Sousa booking is something more than a spare. I think Dods is looking to give the horse every chance. And in booking the top handicap man of the moment in De Sousa, I think he’s done that....

The signs are good. At this meeting last year Holmeswood put in the best performance of his career when dead-heating in the apprentice handicap off a mark of 92....

He hasn’t been in quite the form this season that he was last term, but he goes tomorrow off 91 – his lowest mark since that win last season – and he showed sign last time (at York and on less than ideal ground) that he might be coming to hand....

This is his track. This is his time of year. And he has the best man on his back. I think it’s all systems go, and I like the general 14s....

  • Two-against-the-field....

I want to be two-against-the-field in this 20-runner affair – backing both horses to win and foregoing the opportunity to play for place money....

My second selection is TOMMY TAYLOR at a general 14s....

York is one of those tracks where horses that have shown a liking for the place can come back and do it all over again....

Kevin Ryan’s horse fits into that category. Three of his best four performance on my figures have been produced on the Knavesmire....

He’s won over 6f and 7f, he’s produced at Group and Listed and level nd lastg time out he was another one to show up well in that handicap Holmeswood contested....

He’s been rated as high as 107 but is now down to 97 – just 2lbs in advance of the mark he ran off at Newmarket last July when 2nd in a hot 3yo handicap....

He was well-fancied last time in that York handicap. The soft ground didn’t help but he ran with great credit anyway. He stands a good chance of gaining compensation tomorrow....

  • In the 2-mile handicap....

A little later at 4.15 the Sky Bet Handicap over the 2-mile trip presents another interesting big-field puzzle....

Richard Fahey’s NORTHWEST FRONTIER could be the answer and at 10s with William Hill represents a bet for me….

I backed him at Glorious Goodwood for the 20f handicap on the back of his record over trips up to 2-miles over the summer – form that is hard to knock….

He didn’t get the longer trip at Goodwood and I am happy to strike a line through that run….

Back down to 2-miles on the track where he produced something close to a career-best effort off a mark of 86 in July, he should be a big threat once again….

The Contrarian Bet Box….

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

In the Sky Bet & Symphony Group Handicap (1.55 @ York):

In the Sky Bet Handicap (4.15 @ York):

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – NORTHWEST FRONTIER (10s William Hill)

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.

I’ll be back tomorrow with my take on the action on Day 2 at York....

Until then. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd