The contrarian word on the weekend action....

Last Updated: 14.12.2018

Friday, 14th December 2018

The contrarian word on the weekend action….

Paul Nicholls’s plan for ROMAIN DE SENAM would have been to win an early season prize before putting him away for the spring. The 6yo is not suited by winter conditions….

A decent performance at Aintree in November – where he was a bit too keen for his own good – advertised that he’s in good heart. And in a first time hood he was turned out for last month’s BetVictor Gold Cup…. 

He didn’t get any further than the first fence that afternoon where he unseated his rider – which would have been disappointing for connections. But he gets a chance to put that right tomorrow back at Cheltenham in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup (1.45) and is well worth supporting at this morning’s 20s….

The ground is described as good – that’s in his favour – and he should get the good gallop he needs to show off his finishing speed to best effect….

He’s certainly handicapped to do the job on a mark of 138. He’s been up as high as 145 in the chase rankings and on his very best form – which is still only a year old – he can go very close tomorrow….

The hood is retained to help him switch-off a little better in the early stages of the race. It didn’t work out for him last time, but any horse can come a cropper early doors and tomorrow is another day….

Of course, he must get around. He can’t be banging fences. But it’s not as though this horse makes a habit of it. Last month’s early exit was the first time the horse had failed to finish a chase in his 16 goes to date….

He’s not got some deep ingrained problem to overcome tomorrow. He just needs to get back to doing what he’s done consistently in the past….

He’s a pound wrong at the weights but I’m not concerned about that and at this morning’s price he makes plenty of appeal….

  • Two-against-the-field….

I want to be two-against the field in this one and my second selection is Nigel Twiston-Davies’s FOXTAIL HILL at 16s….

After an excellent 16/17 winter campaign over fences where he posted form figures of 13511F92 and an early season win last term that saw him rise to 147 in the chase ratings, the 9yo seemed to lose his way….

So much so, he’s dropped all the way through the rankings to tomorrow’s mark of 137 (he’s a pound out of the handicap and runs off 138 tomorrow). And, if he’s on-song back at a track where he’s recorded all his best performances then he’s entitled to outrun his price….

Twiston-Davies reported his charge to be in good form ahead of last month’s Randox Health Handicap Chase over 2-miles – which he was bidding to win for the second time – and he saw money on the track….

He didn’t run a bad race. But he ran a bit too free and got beaten into third. A 7-runner field was probably smaller than ideal, I wonder if the 2-mile trip is on the short side for him these days and he is certainly entitled to improve for a run that will have succeeded in taking a little of the fizz out of him….

The bottom line for me is that he didn’t run like a horse that has gone at the game. And he is perched on a handicap mark that he can overcome – based on past exploits that are hardly antique….

The ground is fine for him, he loves the new course at Cheltenham and he produces for Sam Twiston-Davies….

You are always taking something on trust when backing horses at prices. The key is to have as much in your favour as you can get. And there’s plenty in this horse’s favour tomorrow. The price is fair enough in that context….

The Contrarian Bet Box….

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

In the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup (1.55 @ Cheltenham).

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.

No ATC Extra this week.

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

Until next time. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd