The contrarian perspective this weekend....

Last Updated: 18.01.2019

Friday, 18th January 2019

The contrarian perspective this weekend….

It must be somewhere close to the driest winter on record this year....

It’s the middle of January and some trainers are finding it difficult to get work into their horses because their turf gallops are riding good to firm....

But winter might be about to finally catch up with us this weekend....

There’s a chance of snow falling and Haydock have a precautionary inspection scheduled for 7.30 tomorrow morning....

Right now, it’s a just-in-case job. But it’s something to be mindful of nevertheless....

  • Red is the colour....

The Peter Marsh Handicap Chase (3.15) is the race of interest to us tomorrow afternoon at the Lancashire circuit.

A field of 12 is scheduled to go at it over the extended 3m1f trip on ground they’re describing as good to soft (soft in places) this morning....

There’s a little rain forecast (and maybe some of that snow). My best guess is that the ground will be on the softer side by the time the tapes go up on the race....

Valtor, Nicky Henderson’s new French recruit, just about heads the betting after springing a surprise in the Silver Cup at Ascot on debut for the yard last month....

He was brought over as a Grand National prospect. But that Ascot win hasn’t done him much good at the weights and now they have him entered in a range of G1s at the Festival – including the Gold Cup....

With 32 chase runs already under his belt, he’s hardly the new kid on the block. He’s up a whopping 12lbs to 160 for tomorrow’s race and he isn’t going to find it easy from that lofty perch. I am happy to oppose....

Captain Redbeard is always interesting at Haydock. He always seems to give his running at the track and has accumulated course form figures of 312123....

He was 2nd in tomorrow’s race last year before running well again at the meeting in November – despite meeting trouble in running. And you can ignore his last time-out run in the Grand Sefton at Aintree where didn’t seem to enjoy the experience....

I gave a lot of thought to putting him up but his yard is not in the best of form right now and at the prices I prefer the claims of the Ian-Williams-trained RED INFANTRY at the 10s with Unibet, 888sport & generally....

He strikes as a progressive chaser and his last two runs represent career-best efforts over fences and on  mark of 142 there could still be more to come....

The first of those was a win at Haydock in November over the extended 3m4f trip. And the time after that he ran well again at Sandown in the London National – finding only the winner too good after traveling into the race very sweetly....

He jumped left early-doors in that last race and will find being back at tomorrow’s venue more to his liking. Tom O’Brien who rode him for his win at Haydock in November resumes duties in the saddle tomorrow....

Williams sees the 8yo as a potential Grand National horse. On 142 he would have just scraped into last season’s renewal of that at the bottom of the weights....

Maybe Ian Williams sees tomorrow’s assignment as a good opportunity to get the horse rated a bit higher before this season’s Grand National weights are released.

Maybe he sees that race coming too soon for the horse and is content to aim at other big prizes this term....

Either way I reckon the horse is a player tomorrow and worth backing at the price....

  • Getalong in the Holloway’s....

Nicky Richards has had his string in fine form over the last few weeks. Maybe being so far North he’s had a little more moisture to work with on the gallops than some of his southern compatriots....

Whatever, his BETTER GETALONG can add more prize money to the recent haul tomorrow in the Matchbook Holloway's Handicap Hurdle at 2.25 down at Ascot....

This is a progressive sort and I take him to go on again on the better ground he will get tomorrow afternoon....

Last time at Haydock just before Christmas, he made his season debut and ran a sound enough race in defeat to Ballymoy – who reopposes tomorrow off top-weight....

He’s gone very well fresh in the past but I wonder if the heavy ground did for him that day. When he won at Ayr on heavy ground last season, Richards made the point that his horse will probably be better on better ground....

He hasn’t had many opportunities to prove his trainer correct. But he gets one tomorrow and I expect him to be – like a lot of the Richards horses over the last few weeks – fit as a fiddle and very competitive. I think he will prove better than a mark of 135 and the 15/2 with Paddy Power & generally is worth taking....

The Contrarian Bet Box….

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

In the Peter Marsh Handicap Chase (3.15 @ Haydock).

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – RED INFANTRY (10s @ Unibet, 888sport & generally)

In the Matchbook Holloway's Handicap Hurdle (2.25 @ Ascot).

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – BETTER GETALONG (15/2 @ Paddy Power & 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 today with ATC Extra....

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

Until next time. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd