Friday, 29th January 2016
Good afternoon, contrarians,
On the menu today….
Djakadam was a 6yo runner-up in last season’s Gold Cup and he’s the ante-post favourite to go one better this time round. On that basis he should be expected to assert his superiority and confirm his championship credentials in tomorrow’s BetBright Trial Chase at Cheltenham (1.50).
We’ve only seen him once this season and his performance at Punchestown in the John Durkin Chase early in December did nothing to tarnish his reputation. He spanked his opponents 12 lengths that day.
On official ratings he was entitled to win in the manor he did off level weights. But his performance was all the more impressive for the fact he was running over an inadequate 20f and on heavy ground. Tomorrow’s trip is much more up his street and he should improve again as a result.
His jumping was impressive at Punchestown and whilst the performance wasn’t a career-best best it was certainly good enough to confirm that he’s very much on-track for another serious tilt at the top prize in jumps racing.
All that said his price for tomorrow’s assignment – you can get no better than 4/7 about him – makes no appeal. At least not to me.
He’ll be fitter for his run in December but I wonder if he’ll be fully wound up for tomorrow. The Gold Cup is the principal target his whole season has been aimed at and his training will surely be focused on him coming to a peak in March.
Make no mistake he is here to win tomorrow. Connections won’t want to go to Cheltenham on the back of a blip, but if he is lacking a razor sharp racing edge then he might have to fight harder than his price suggests he will. I’m a contrarian. At the prices, I have to take him on….
Many Clouds won the race last year and is clearly entitled to take his place again this time round. Last year his principal target was the Gold Cup but this time round he’s being aimed at a defence of his Grand National crown – for which he is clear favourite. He’s another who might be working his way to peak form as opposed to being spot on tomorrow.
O’Faolain’s Boy is an interesting contender. The 2014 RSA Chase winner – he beat Smad Place a neck that day – has had his troubles with injury in the meantime but a win at Newbury in December served to signal he’s on his way back.
Trainer Rebecca Curtis reports the horse has been bouncing since then and tomorrow will serve to highlight whether or not he’s the Gold Cup horse his connections hoped he would develop into after his RSA win.
He’s interesting as I say, but I wonder if he’s really done or proved enough at this stage to be just a point higher in the market than Alan King’s SMAD PLACE.
The 9yo grey really benefited from a wind procedure in the close season and followed up his win on seasonal debut at Kempton with an invigorating tapes to post exhibition in the Hennessy Gold Cup.
He went on to struggle in the King George. He didn’t disgrace himself in 4th but he was quite possibly outclassed and might have been feeling his Newbury exertions.
Since then connections have intimated that he isn’t quite good enough to have a serious claim on the Gold Cup – the Ryanair looks to be the target now. But 3 miles in the right company on a track where he’s run so well on multiple occasions – albeit without winning – is certainly within his compass and he can go well again.
Smad Place was 2nd in this race last year behind Many Clouds and having progressed for his wind-op since then and with last year’s conqueror possibly not as straight this time round there is every reason to expect an improved showing. If Djakadam fluffs his lines, and no horse is ever a cert, Smad Place can be the one to capitalize. The 8s with Betfred & Totesport appeals.
The Contrarian Bet Box….
To recap where the value is in tomorrow’s BetBright Trial Chase….
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 today. Stay tuned for more contrarian big-race insight & analysis next week.
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