Monday, 26th July 2021
Tomorrow is Day 1 of the Glorious meeting at Goodwood….
I’m always 24 hours ahead of the game – in the hope of bagging the best of the prices about ‘live’ contenders the market is overlooking, underestimating or just plain wrong about….
There’s been a tonne of rain over the weekend and conditions are on the soft side right now….
That said the track – which sits on the predominantly chalk South Downs – drains remarkably quickly….
Some 33mm of rain fell onto the track on Sunday. Showers are a possibility between now and the meeting getting underway….
Nevertheless, clerk of course (Ed Arkell) envisages ground that is soft (good to soft in places) tomorrow afternoon – which is decent ground considering….
A field of 18 goes to post for the opener – the Chesterfield Cup over the 10f trip (1.50)….
The bookies are cautious about this one. Right now, half the field is priced up between 5s and 10s. It’s an ultra-competitive affair….
Migration is shortest of all at 5s. He’s had just the one run this term – at Salisbury in June where he caught the eye – and he’ll be fresher than most. He has William Buick in the saddle – and on the Goodwood bends that can be considered an advantage….
But he’s drawn in stall 14 – and that’s not the best place to be. There aren’t too many big-field 10f handicaps run at the track so the evidence isn’t exactly scientific – but it’s not heresy to suggest that it’s almost certainly better to be drawn lower than that….
You could make a case for any of the short ones but my preference is to focus on the horses further down the list. With so many runners up at relatively short prices there’s going to be value in some of the lesser-fancied horses and the one that appeals to me is Mark Johnston’s SKY DEFENDER at the general 20s….
It’s 18 races since he last posted a victory and he was certainly well off his game last time at York. But he is a Johnston horse and it’s not unknown for them to bounce back to form at the drop of a hat – and Johnston targets the handicaps at this meeting….
Sky Defender showed what he can do on an idiosyncratic track at Epsom in April. It’s not the first time he’s performed with credit there. And he’s gone well at undulating Goodwood in the past too….
Tomorrow he gets to run off an official mark of 99. It’s the first time he’s been out of the 100s since that last winning appearance (also at Epsom) – and he’s handicapped to go very well if he’s on his game….
He’s drawn in stall 7. There are plenty of worse places to be than that and I think he’s big price for a horse that was 2nd in this race last year off a 5lb higher mark….
Each-way backers take note: Sky Bet are offering 1/5 the odds on the first 7. You can get 1/5 the first 5 and 1/4 the first 4 generally. Note: it’s still early days and additional deals will emerge as the day goes on….
Regular readers will know that I’m a bat-swinger by nature. If the price is there and I can make a case for the horse, I’m not frightened to open my shoulders in a bid to connect. And that’s how I’m playing the 5f sprint tomorrow afternoon (4.10)….
Robert Cowell’s BLUE DE VEGA had a cracking time of it last term. He won 4 times from his 11 starts – off marks of 83, 86, 93 and 100….
It’s not been quite the same story this time around. Ten goes have so far drawn a blank….
But that’s the way of it with these handicappers. A purple patch pushes you up the handicap scale – making it harder (or even impossible to win). And the only way back down to a competitive perch is to run and lose – until the handicapper relents sufficiently….
Blue De Vega started the season on 102. He’s back down now to 93 – and that’s certainly a mark he can do business off….
I’m mindful that he’s already been beaten this term off marks of 96, 95, 94 and 93 – and that maybe he’s just a little off-colour. But he did run well at Newcastle the time before last….
After that run I put him up at Ascot next time out – but it didn’t happen that day. I’m giving the horse another go tomorrow – mostly because of the very competitive mark but also because the booking of Oisin Murphy takes the eye. Murphy is 6 from 15 riding for Cowell since the start of 2020 – with another five of those horses hitting 2nd or 3rd.
In other words, rider and trainer don’t get together frequently – but when they do combine they tend to go well. Murphy won on the horse at Sandown last year (the last time he rode him) – so horse and rider are not strangers….
Sooner or later this horse will land a pot. He’s handicapped to win again. At 16s I’m prepared to bet he will go well tomorrow….
Each-way backers take note: Sky Bet are offering 1/5 the odds on the first 6. You can get 1/5 the first 5 and 1/4 the first 4 generally. Note: it’s still early days and additional deals will emerge as the day goes on….
Nick’s contrarian picks….
To recap on where my idea of the value lies tomorrow afternoon….
In the Chesterfield Cup (1.50 @ Goodwood).
In the Back to Goodwood Handicap (4.10 @ Goodwood).
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 for today. I’ll be back tomorrow. Meanwhile….
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Until next time. Stay tuned.