The contrarian word on the weekend action....

Last Updated: 30.11.2018

Friday, 30th November 2018

The contrarian word on the weekend action….

With just 13 runners heading to post tomorrow afternoon (barring any additional late pull-outs), the 2018 edition of the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase at Newbury (3.00) has turned out to be a little disappointing….

It’s the smallest field for the race since 1999….

The smaller the field, the more efficient the market….

The more efficient the market, the more difficult the task of identifying value betting opportunities….

  • Against the crowd – come what may….

The temptation for most will be to stick with the fancied players like Thomas Patrick, Elegant Escape, Ms Parfois and Dingo Dollar….

I won’t argue too vehemently with any punter who chooses to take that route….

Those horses clearly boast the traditional profile for this race. They tick a lot of the right boxes….

The downside is that they have been well-found at the prices….

In any case, it is not this column’s cup of tea to run with the crowd. We take a contrarian stance – come hell and high-water….

When analysing big handicap races, we don’t set out to identify winners. Instead, our objective is always to seek-out and identify horses that can run big races at big prices….

We figure that if we do that job well enough then the winners will take care of themselves over time….

  • A true contrarian pick at an each-way price….

There will be no deviation this weekend….

When everybody else is going cautious and playing it safe, we are happy to go out on a limb. That is our way. That is our default approach. Win lose or draw, look smart or look foolish, we will never be any other way….

And we’re going out on a big limb tomorrow. We’re going to back Nigel Twiston-Davies’s FLYING ANGEL each-way at the general 25s….

This horse was very highly thought of as a novice in 2017. When he won the G1 Manifesto at Aintree – with Cloudy Dream, Top Notch and Frodon in arrears – his trainer expressed the hope that the horse could go all the way to the very top the following season….

It didn’t happen. Last season was a write-off. The horse was well-beaten in all five starts. He had his wind done in January. But it didn’t improve him in the Topham at Aintree – his final assignment of last season. But these things can take time….

There were definite signs of life last time – at Ascot. It was the 7yo’s second run this term. Maybe a summer break and a pipe-opener at Aintree did the trick. Maybe it was the wind-op finally making its effects felt. Maybe it was a first-time visor….

Whatever, it was the horse’s best run for some time….

And having tumbled all the way from a career-high chase rating of 157 to tomorrow’s 142 (the horse is due to go up 4lbs afterwards), Flying Angel is a horse that could be dangerously well-handicapped for tomorrow’s assignment….

The big bugbear is the trip. That last race at ascot was over 2m5f. Most of his best earlier work has been done at that trip. Tomorrow, is 6-furlongs further. He must prove his stamina….

  • Taking something on trust….

Getting and taking a price almost always involves reading-between-the-lines or taking something on trust. In this instance, it is the trip….

It might turn out he doesn’t stay. But at the price, I’m prepared to take that risk. Ad there is a little in the way of encouragement….

I am mindful that he has already been tried at 3-miles. And I am mindful that Twiston-Davies – a man who has made his reputation training staying chasers – wanted to run Flying Angel in last season’s Grand National….

I think Twiston-Davies believes the horse will stay. Ad there is stamina on the dam’s side of the pedigree to give him more than a fighting chance of doing so….

I’m just intrigued by the entry. By the step-up in trip. By the horse’s very presence in this most prestigious staying chase. And by his all-important handicap mark….

If he stays, then he can run a big race – bigger than his price suggests. If he improves for the trip, then he can most certainly win. Forecast rain will most probably help him….

For sure, I’m taking some things on trust. But at the price, given the shape of the race and the market, I’m more than happy to do so….

The Contrarian Bet Box….

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

In the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase (3.00 @ Newbury).

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 today with ATC Extra….

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

Until next time. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd