Reach for the Sky at Haydock...

Last Updated: 22.01.2016

Friday, 22nd January 2016

Good afternoon, contrarians,

On the menu today….

  • Putting a penalty kick wide of the posts….
  • Reach for the Sky at Haydock….
  • Juicy Plums later today….

Putting a penalty kick wide of the posts….

I feel like I missed a penalty kick yesterday at Gowran Park in the Thyestes Chase….

Having put up My Murphy for the Leopardstown Handicap Chase over Christmas – where he pulled up – the horse was very much the subject of my deliberations the night before yesterday’s race.

He’d finished 2nd in last year’s renewal of the Thyestes – behind Djakadam – and this time round he would be carrying less weight albeit off the same mark. That gave him some pretty obvious claims.

So too the fact that last season’s Thyestes run on similar ground was – on the basis of my ratings at least – the best bit of form any horse was bringing into the race….

That said the form was a year old, the trainer had been making noises about the horse being a bit too high in the handicap and hard to place, the blinkers had been on and off, and the horse hadn’t done a tremendous amount in the subsequent 12 months….

And I hadn’t liked how the 10-year-old had shaped at Leopardstown. He was pushed along, ridden and made no impression 4 out before pulling up. He’d looked out of sorts – not like a horse ready to win a big pot….

He was the last horse off my shortlist for the Thyestes on Wednesday night. I’d toyed long and hard with the idea of trusting to the year-old form and giving the horse another chance to do the business in a race and conditions that had produced a ‘top’ last year.

In the end I went on the visual last-time-out impression and scratched him. And the bugger went and won at 16s. It fair makes you sick.

I bring you this tale of misery not to after-time but to simply get it out of my system. I find results like these, where a horse confounds recent efforts, the hardest to take. But that’s racing….

The horse I did pick, Malt Gem, never really went a yard. That’s racing too….

Reach for the Sky At Haydock….

You can’t go back. You can only move on. And this weekend we have the Peter Marsh Chase to shoot at Haydock Park where the going is heavy and 13 runners are set to go to post. It’s not the strongest race in the world – in my estimation.

The favourite – Reve De Sivola – hasn’t raced over fences since 2011. He’ll like the ground – based on his hurdle exploits. But it would take some faith for me to back a horse at 4s when he won only one of the ten chases he ever contested and that one more than 5 years ago….

Virak is the only horse that comes into the race on a chase mark bigger than he raced off last time out. His last two efforts speak highly of his ability. But the market has found him at 5s. And things are not getting easier off a mark of 159. I can overlook him at his price….

SEVENTH SKY is a pretty consistent horse and he’s been in-form this term – going up to a career high mark following his win in the Tommy Whittle at Haydock last month.

He’s a horse who takes his races really well and at 12s he makes some appeal. I think that price reflects a market assumption that it was his advanced mark that did for him at Cheltenham last time out. But I take the view that it was the step back to a shorter trip that got him beat – and I’m taking the price on that basis.

His record to date – most of his racing has been done at trips around 2 and half miles – doesn’t scream out 3-mile stayer. But he wasn’t stopping over 2 miles 7 furlongs in the Tommy Whittle and tomorrow’s 3 miles might suit him better these days. 

He goes on any ground, he is partnered once again by Gavin Sheehan, who has been onboard for all the 9yo’s big day, and I expect another consistent effort. At 12s he represents a decent each-way bet in my book.

The Contrarian Bet Box….

To recap where the value is in tomorrow’s Peter Marsh Chase….

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – SEVENTH SKY each-way (12s generally)

That is my take on tomorrow’s target races. You will no doubt have your own ideas – and that’s exactly as it should be. You can watch the action unfold live on C4 & RUK.

That’s all from me for now.


Winning Race Profiles

I’ll be back later today with Juicy Plum selections in the bet365 Handicap Chase at Ascot. If you want first bash at the prices then consider Liking/Following our Facebook page where the Juicy Plums appear earliest. You’ll get an alert from Facebook the moment we publish our post and you can beat everybody else to the punch.