The contrarian word on the weekend action....

Last Updated: 16.11.2018

Friday, 16th November 2018

The contrarian word on the weekend action….

Jamie Moore has opted to ride Benatar over BARON ALCO in tomorrow afternoon’s BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham (2.25) – but I’m not going to let that put me off backing the latter at this morning’s 11s....

On what Baron Alco has achieved over fences to date, I reckon his current mark of 146 is a little on the generous side – and that plays into his favour....

On top of that, and unlike his stablemate, he’s already proved that he can perform in a big-field handicap over the Cheltenham fences. He was 2nd in the 2017 edition of the Plate – finding just Road to Respect too good that afternoon....

That one went on to finish 4th in this season’s Gold Cup – rated some 23lb higher than he was when defeating Baron Alco by 6-lengths – in receipt of a pound....

Baron Alco gets to race off 146 again tomorrow – the same mark he went so close off in the 2017 Plate. It’s certainly a mark that gives him every chance....

But nothing is entirely straight-forward. The big reason he’s still rated so similarly is that he’s only raced once since that Cheltenham performance – missing the whole of last season....

He returned off a 19-month lay-off at Chepstow in October where he produced an encouraging performance that suggests he’s lost none of his aggression or grit....

He saw money in the market on the day and what he produced was enough for the handicapper to raise him 4lbs from 142 to tomorrow’s mark....

This horse is ultra-consistent and jumps well – producing a 150+ performances on the RPR scale on each of his last five chase appearances....

I can’t imagine we’ve seen the very best of this horse yet and if he can find a little more tomorrow afternoon, he can figure from the front with his free-wheeling style....

  • Two-against-the-field....

I want to be two-against-the-field in this one and the second horse I want to back is Colin Tizzard’s WEST APPROACH at 16s....

They like him back at the yard and they reckon he has a big handicap in him at this trip over fences – and when it comes to chasers, the Tizzard-team knows its onions....

Assuming their assessment is correct – and I’ve no reason to believe it isn’t – the horse is certainly weighted to deliver on a mark 142....

That’s a rating some 15lbs below the level he reached at his peak over hurdles. And it is 15lbs below the mark he started out from over fences....

Of course, the horse has slid down the weights on the back of sub-par efforts. He lost his way last term....

But the most recent evidence often proves the best evidence and  last month the horse ran a decent race in a good handicap at Cheltenham on his seasonal bow – doing plenty of the donkey work and only giving best to the front two relatively late on....

He was though to need that run ahead of the race and he is entitled to come on for it tomorrow afternoon....

It was his first time he’d been paired over fences with Richard Johnson. The rider – who rides the chase track on the Old course as well as anybody – will have learned something and the pair combine again tomorrow....

There’s nothing fancy about this selection. West Approach is just a potentially well-handicapped horse who produced something last time that was better than he has for a while. He should be better again for the run. He has a good man on his back. He runs out of an in-form yard. And the price is attractive enough....

The Contrarian Bet Box….

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

In the BetVictor Gold Cup (2.25 @ Cheltenham).

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – BARON ALCO (11s generally) & WEST APPROACH (16s 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 a little later with ATC Extra....

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

Until next time. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd