16th November 2018
We’re at Cheltenham for our target race this weekend – the BetVictor.com Handicap Chase at 1.50….
A field of 16 runners goes to post for the extended 3m3f event – and they jump 22-fences on the way round….
The forecast is for dry weather over the track between now and tomorrow afternoon. I’d anticipate they’ll race on good jumping ground….
One-time Gold Cup winner Coneygree heads the weight on a mark of 160 – down 5lbs….
He’s got a bit to prove. He was pulled-up on his last two outings last-term. Maybe he couldn’t get his breath. He’s had a wind-op since he was last seen, and he wears a tongue-tie for the first time. Connections will be hoping a clear-air passage enables him to bounce back to something approaching former glories….
At the other end of the scale the old-stager Doing Fine is a couple of pounds out of the handicap under 10-0. He sports a first-time visor after disappointing last month at Cheltenham on his seasonal bow….
Last year’s winner Perfect Candidate goes again. He was rated 152 last term. After going up 4lbs for his victory – in what was small-field renewal – he’s back down to 150 now. He’s weighted to win.
He got well-beaten on his seasonal debut at Cheltenham. But that happened last season too. He might be 11 now and veterans’ chases might be his thing later in the season. But a big leap forward cannot be ruled out tomorrow.
Sue Smith’s Sharp Response is the one that comes into the race having taken a big leap forward last time out….
A 9-length win against modest enough opposition over the soft fences at Carlisle has seen the 7yo raised from 124 to 135….
This G3 represents a considerable step-up in class, but he’s earned the opportunity and his revised mark is one he looks like he can leave well behind….
Singlefarmpayment is up 4lbs for his performance at Cheltenham in April. Cogry and The Young Master are up 4lbs and 5lbs respectively after their last time out showings….
Cogry was a little unfortunate last time when 2nd to Relentless Dreamer off 135. Connections will be gutted the horse is up 4lbs for a defeat. The Young Master had slipped all the way down to 130 – having been rated 151 at his peak. He was entitled to win last time at Chepstow….
We’ll get to my selections for tomorrow’s race in a moment. First, a word on my other betting target this weekend….
A big fried of 20 heads to post for the feature handicap on tomorrow’s Cheltenham card – the BetVictor Gold Cup….
I’m doing my usual thing and avoiding the fancied horse – preferring to seek out potential live contenders at value prices….
I’m two-against-the-field with a pair of horses that could turn out to be very nicely handicapped – and much more competitive than market sentiment suggests….
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….
It is youth and progression at a double-figure price for me tomorrow for this one….
SHARP RESPONSE might be up 11lbs in the weights and significantly up in class, but he wouldn’t be the first lightly raced horse to win this….
And what use is a mark well below what your horse is capable of if you’re not going to use it to best effect in races offering proper money?
This 7yo looks every inch a staying chaser that is going places. 11lbs is a fair hoist in the ratings but 135 is not going to be the limit of this horse. He will move on from that mark – if not tomorrow then certainly shortly afterwards….
He’s only had 5 runs over fences and in the form he’s in right now, he can take another big step forward tomorrow afternoon….
Let’s not overlook the fact either that he was only beaten 4.5 lengths by Mister Whitaker at Carlisle last term – getting 2lbs. That one is rated 152 now and considered a horse that can rank plenty higher still….
Sharp Response gets to go with a feather-weight of 10-1 on his back tomorrow. And I’ve got absolutely no concerns about the step up to a trip just shy of three-and-a-half miles….
At Carlisle over 3m2f, Sharp Response gave every impression this kind of trip is going to pose him no problems. The ground will suit too….
I also want a few quid on the Nicky-Richards-trained LOOKING WELL – he’s an interesting runner and a nice price at a general 16s….
He’s very lightly-raced for a 9yo. So much so he can float off the radar. But on his day, he’s pretty good….
I think he’s ground dependent. He likes a decent surface. And he showed what he can do when he gets his conditions when 2nd in the 2017 edition of the Sky Bet Handicap Chase at Doncaster….
That run was produced off a mark of 132. Tomorrow he goes off a mark just 3lb higher and the extra yardage of tomorrow’s contest will suit him better than the bare 3-miles which is a bit too sharp for him….
His trainer is as shrewd as they come, and I imagine this is a genuine target rather than an after-thought or a run-out in the box to keep the horse entertained….
All the focus is on the yard’s runner in the big race – Guitar Pete. But this one goes well fresh and could go much better than the price anticipates….
The Pick of the Prices….
To recap on where my contrarian money will be going tomorrow afternoon….
In the BetVictor.com Handicap Chase (1.50 @ Cheltenham).
That’s all from me this week.
Enjoy your weekend.