18th January 2019
The imaginatively-titled bet365 Handicap Chase at Ascot tomorrow afternoon (3.00) is our target race this weekend….
The class 2 event contested over 2m5f sees a field of 13-runners line up on ground described this afternoon as good to soft….
Mick Channon’s Mister Whitaker – sitting on Festival G1 entries in the Ryanair and the Gold Cup heads the weights on his mark 152.
If those G1 entries are not mere fanciful ambitions, he has to rate better than that rating and connections will be expecting him to go very close….
Colin Tizzard’s Quite by Chance sits at the bottom of the order and carries 10-9 courtesy of his 135 rating. He might be 10 now and he’s been off the track for a while, but Ascot is his favourite track – he’s won most of his career earnings there….
He’s had a wind-op, he’s down to his last winning mark and if he’s at it first-time-up then 25s could look big in hindsight. But it is a big if….
Gary Moore’s Benatar heads the betting at 9/2. He hasn’t quite kicked-on from his exploits as a novice last term. And the handicapper has been unrelenting….
The 7yo has been beaten 3 times over fences this term off 149 but remains on that same mark for tomorrow’s assignment. Maybe it will be fourth time lucky….
We’ll get to my selections for tomorrow’s race in a moment….
First a quick word on what you missed on my paid ATC service this week….
It’s not the biggest or the brightest Saturday afternoon on the racing programme, but there are still good bets at fair prices to be had in a couple of the races at Haydock and Ascot….
Up in Lancashire in the Peter Marsh Handicap Chase, I’m backing a progressive horse on a nice mark at a nice price….
At Ascot, in the Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle, I’m siding with another progressive type running for a yard in a purple patch of form. I think he’ll improve again for the better ground he’ll be running on tomorrow….
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….
Venetia Williams has provided plenty of evidence this term that she is a dab hand at getting one ready to run a competitive race for a decent pot at the first time of asking….
She’s been in great form over the last few weeks. Her horses (10/35 +35.3 points) been more profitable for punters to follow at class 3 and better than horse from any other yard….
During that period, Aso, Cepage, Otago Trail and Yala Enka have all produced quality performances in good handicaps off the back of long lay-offs….
BELAMI DES PICTONS shows up here tomorrow on the back of a 440-day lay-off – but given the recent record of the yard with horses returning to the track off long breaks, I’m not going to let that hiatus put me off the 8s with William Hill & 888sport….
The 7yo resumes business on a mark of 146. Last time he was seen he was getting beaten just a couple of lengths in a Listed race by Waiting Patiently in receipt of 6lbs…
That one is rated 170 now and considered a proper G1 animal. Belami Des Pictons might not go to that level, but he can go beyond 146 and I consider him potentially well-handicapped for what will be just his 6th run over fences and his second in a handicap chase….
Off a long break – one that indicates some kind of physical problem – you can never be entirely sure how they will come back. But the yard has been patient and I doubt Williams would be rushing now 18-months into the work to get the horse back….
I expect him to be fit. And I expect him to enjoy the best ground he will have run on to date over fences. He was considered an RSA horse before his problems. If he’s on his game first-time-up – and there’s no reason to believe he won’t be – then he is weighted to go very close….
The Pick of the Prices….
To recap on where my contrarian money will be going tomorrow afternoon….
In the bet365 Handicap Chase (3.00 @ Ascot).
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.
That’s all from me this week.
Enjoy your weekend.