The contrarian word on the weekend action....

Last Updated: 28.09.2018

Friday, 28th September 2018

The contrarian word on the weekend action….

I know that a 35-runner handicap can look like a bit of a lottery....

So I can appreciate that plenty of punters will automatically swerve tomorrow afternoon’s Cambridgeshire (3.40) at Newmarket....

‘Picking out the winner of that boils down to luck....’.

I’ve heard that one before. And I expect to hear it again....

But I take no notice of that opinion. I play the big handicaps precisely because they are difficult to call....

Difficult for me. But also difficult for the layers and the wider market I am ultimately betting against....

In this kind of environment, mistakes are easily made. Solid horses can be overlooked. Competitive horses can be over-priced. The market has so much to look at and take in that crucial bits of detail can be missed....

I don’t go out seeking the winner of such races. I don’t know what is going to win. No idea....

But I back myself and my methods to pick out horses trading at prices that underestimate their talent and potential competitivity....

I figure if I do that job well-enough over time, the winners will look after themselves....

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

If you were up all last night poring over the form of the 35-runners set to go to post for tomorrow’s cavalry charge, don’t worry – I’ve called for an ambulance, it is on its way and they are brining strong medication....

It probably turned out to be a useless exercise. Raising more questions than answers and only succeeding in reducing the field to 27 possibles. That’s how it is with these big handicaps....

In races like this, I’m scanning form rather than studying it like scripture....

I tend to be looking for specific details that set my antenna twitching and point to bets. It’s more about feel and intuition than running a formbook algorithm....

For example, I note that Simon Crisford’s MORDIN has got in down at the bottom of the weights....

Crisford is going very well right now with 8 winners booked over the last fortnight. His horse has been going consistently well all season – quietly creeping up the ratings....

He’s up to a mark of 100 now. But he gets to go off 95 tomorrow. And I note that Crisford has chosen this assignment to reach for the cheekpieces for the first time in a bid to squeeze out that bit of extra performance from his charge....

He also gave the horse a decent break in id-July before giving a blow at Sandown a fortnight book....

In short, this race feels like it is being targeted with some serious intent. And at 40s, the horse is an interesting player and I want him in my book....

With SABADOR it is the step-up to 9f and the booking of Jamie Spencer that catch my eye and encourage me to back the horse at this morning’s 33s....

He’s run a couple of decent back-to-back races in big handicaps over 7f – giving the impression that extra yardage will improve him....

He’s already shown that he stays a mile at a lower grade. He was raced at that trip last year. Now he appears ready to go further at a better level....

Stepping up to 9f is a bold move. But he will have Jamie Spencer to help him. And I think Spencer is a booking that suggests real intent....

When Ed Walker had a sure thing for Royal Ascot, he turned to Spencer to do the steering. He’s turned to Spencer 16 times this year and Spencer has won on 3 of those rides and placed 2nd on 5 more....

In other words, Spencer gets on things for Walker that are expected to get competitive. I think Sabador is expected to get competitive tomorrow. At 33s, I’m prepared to back my judgment in the markets....

With the 35-runners in the field, and prices that suit, I’ll be backing both horses each-way....

The Contrarian Bet Box….

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

In the Cambridgeshire (3.40 @ Newmarket).

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – MORDIN each-way (40s generally) & SABADOR each-way (33s 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.

  • The last word….

That’s all from me for now....

I’ll be back in your inbox a little today with ATC Extra – and bets for Haydock....

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

Until then. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd