9th November 2018
It’s still early days in the 18/19 jumps season but we have a decent race to take aim at tomorrow in the shape of the Badger Ales Trophy Handicap Chase at 3.35 down at Wincanton….
We like a big-field here at ATC. We prefer a 16-runner event to, say, a 12-runner event. We find the bigger the field, the more likely the market is to leave us something to find at a price….
We get what we want for tomorrow’s Badger renewal. A field of 16-runners heads to post. The ground is currently described as good to firm but plenty of trainers will be clapping their hands to news that heavy rain is expected this evening – and lasting into the night….
The track reports that 10mm will leave the ground good all round. The Met Office suggest we might get a bit more than that. So, the sting should be well and truly taken out of the surface….
Paul Nicholls has farmed this early-season handicap over the years – his last 31 runners over the last 17 editions producing 5 winners and 8 additional placers….
I’m not telling you anything there that the market is missing. The local handler saddles three this year. All appear in the top 4 of the betting….
His Present Man, who won the race last year, heads the weights on an official rating of 144 – just 2lbs higher than last season’s winning mark and Bryony Frost takes off a useful 3lb….
He’s had no prep run ahead of the race this year, but it should be noted that the horse has seasonal reappearance form figures of 211. You can expect him to be ready for his season-opening assignment once again. He’ll put up a strong defence of his crown. But he’s been well-found in the betting….
El Bandit just about shades favouritism at 11/2 as opposed to Present Man’s 6s. He runs off a mark of 139 and the yard’s principal jockey Harry Cobden takes the ride….
He’s not got a great deal of experience with just one chase under his belt. He won that by 16 lengths in May at Warwick. It’s hard to know what the form amounts to. The two he beat haven’t managed to win a race between them in the meantime….
He could be anything. He’s potentially well in-front of the handicapper on his mark. But I wonder if this classy big-field task might come just a bit too early in his development. At the price, I wouldn’t want to be backing him. But that’s just me….
We’ll get to my selections for tomorrow’s race in a moment….
First a quick word on the other race I’m targeting this weekend….
Doncaster hosts the final big handicap of the 2018 turf flat season tomorrow afternoon….
A big field of 23 heads to post for the 1m4f November Handicap on ground likely to have cut….
I’m going two-against-the-field – siding with a pair of well-handicapped types showing the right signs and trading at nice prices….
You can get immediate access to these extra bets on the website when you take a FREE 14-day test drive of my Against the Crowd service….
Back to tomorrow’s target race and the pick of the prices….
You don’t often find Daryl Jacob doing 10-6 – it’s going to mean boiling down and laying off the lettuce leaves….
Maybe the opportunity to ride again for Nicholls has encouraged him to show willing. But it’s not an easy weight for him to do and it suggests that CAPTAIN BUCK’S – the apparent third-string for the yard – has a better chance than this afternoon’s general 11s suggests….
It’s an interesting booking and let’s not forget that Nicholls and Jacob have previous in the race. They won it together with The Minack in 2011….
Jacob won the race again in 2014 with Emma Lavelle’s Court By Surprise (they were awarded the race after The Young Master was disqualified) and Jacob has also finished 2nd and 4th of 16 in other renewals….
Jacob rides Wincanton well with a 5-year 25% strike rate and he’s got more winners at the place than anywhere else since the start of 2013. I imagine that formed part of Paul Nicholl’s thinking when he made the booking….
The horsed has form at the place too. He was 3rd there on seasonal reappearance last month….
The 6yo needs a bit of pace on and he should get that tomorrow. The ground should suit too. He’s zero from 8 over fences, but his best form says a mark of 124 is one he can prove better than. At 11s he rates a bet for me….
The forecast is for rain. But nobody knows for sure how much. And I want an insurance policy just in case they get tons and it goes really soft….
In that scenario RAMSES DE TEILLEE could well look big in hindsight at this afternoon’s 14s….
He doesn’t need it really soft. Good to soft is okay. But if it does go really soft then he will handle it better than most. That kind of ground is the key to him….
For sure, there’s a little to take on trust – but that’s often the case at a price….
This time last year he produced a close to career-best performance when winning on deep Chepstow ground. Then he lost his way and his form tailed-off markedly….
But if a wind-operation has put him right and he gets his ground, then he could produce a surprise. He’s certainly handicapped to do so on a potentially generous rating of 141….
His yard has been trying to get him out this last fortnight, but they haven’t wanted to risk him on quick ground. Tomorrow should be fine for him….
He’s reported as ready to go and trainer David Pipe has a good record in this race. He’s won it three times – twice with horses turning out for their seasonal debut….
The Pick of the Prices….
To recap on where my contrarian money will be going tomorrow afternoon….
In the Badger Ales Trophy Handicap Chase (3.35 @ Wincanton).
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.
That’s all from me this week.
Enjoy your weekend.