Friday, 26th February 2016
Good afternoon, contrarians,
On the menu today….
Champagne West with Tom O’Brien back on-board heads the betting for tomorrow’s Betbright Chase at Kempton (3.35) – priced up at 5s generally.
He might not be top scorer on too many of the variables on the Indicator (behind the Next Race button on the Against the Crowd website)….
…. but he’s only raced just half a dozen times over fences. He hasn’t had as many opportunities to make his mark as many of tomorrow’s opponents. And you have to note that, despite having fewer shots at the coconut, he scores strongly on multiple Indicator yardsticks.
He hasn’t won any of his last 4 chases but, when he’s got round, he’s given the impression that he’s got plenty of talent – putting in performances that rank highly when measured against those produced by tomorrow’s opponents.
That apparent superiority, allied with Philip Hobbs’s recent record in this race and his record in valuable handicaps this season generally, is what drives the market’s support for the horse.
But it’s that phrase, ‘When he’s got round’ that is key for me. The 8yo is still learning his trade and has a habit of disrespecting his fences. He’s failed to complete 2 of his last 3 races as a result of that deficiency and that has to be a worry for supporters at the prices. The trip – he’s stepping up to 3 miles for the first time over fences – is by no means a given either.
Ziga Boy is another one the market is on to and which it is easy to make a case for. He comes off the back of two wins at Doncaster – the last one earning connections a cool £45k. He’s up 8lbs as a result of that win and he’ll have to overcome that rise. But his front-running style could suit at Kempton….
The lightly-raced but progressive novice, Thomas Brown, has the potential to be a big player for Harry Fry. Fry won the race previously with Opening Batsman off the same mark of 140 (that one goes again tomorrow) and the trip and ground are in the horse’s favour. In form Noel Fehily taking the ride is another obvious plus….
Theatre Guide has to be of some interest running off an official rating of 139 – some full 10lbs below his last winning mark. And Le Reve is easy to make case for too. He won last time out, he was 2nd in this race last year and gets to go again off just 3lb higher tomorrow….
But the market is already onto these participants – we can see why – and each of them already trades at single-figure quotes.
You don’t need us to help you find the top-of-the-market horses. Any punter can do that job himself. At Against the Crowd we see it as our role to seek out the horses the market might be under-estimating at the prices. We see it as our role to highlight the best value-for-money bets at the prices….
Virak is one that does score well on the Indicator and he’s been running solidly off marks in the high 150s this term without quite managing to win. Harry Cobden takes 7lbs off again and at 16s I must admit I gave the 7yo a lot of thought.
But his best work has been done on surfaces with a bit of cut and the latest reports from the track suggest that the ground could be good by the time they go to post for the race tomorrow afternoon.
With that in mind, the one for me at the prices is another Nicholls horse, REUBEN COTTER at a general 16s.
He’s clearly had his problems – with two lengthy layoffs since the end of 2013. But connections will have been waiting for decent ground for him and whilst he hasn’t been seen on the track since last April and it is a tough ask first-time-up, I am mindful that on his reappearance at Kempton last season he defied a 469 day break to land a handicap in a good time – under tomorrow’s jockey, Nick Schofield.
He will need to improve again on that effort to figure tomorrow afternoon. But whilst he’s 10-years-old now, there aren’t many miles on his clock and with just 6 chase starts to his name he could well be ahead of his current mark of 140 and there is plenty of scope for further progress.
The ground will suit, he’s proven at the track, he carries a nice racing weight and, whilst his most recent work over fences has been done at trips around 2 and a half miles, he does stay 3 miles.
Paul Nicholls has a very good record in this race and is a form trainer right now with his last 29 runners yielding 11 winners.
The other one that catches my eye at a price is ROC D’ APSIS at 20s.
Trainer Tom George knows what kind of horse it takes to win this race having done so twice with Nacarat and he’s expressed the opinion that tomorrow’s conditions – 3 miles on decent ground – will prove optimum for his 7-year-old.
He still has to prove that he gets the trip but the doubt is factored into the price. One thing is for sure though. He’ll be attempting it for the first time at his favourite track – which has to help. He’s made the first 3 on each of his 3 visits.
Whilst regular jockey Paddy Brennan is missing (committed to Theatre Guide) in-form Richard Johnson has to be seen as about the best substitute you could hope for.
The Contrarian Bet Box….
To recap where the value is in tomorrow’s Betbright 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.
I’ll be back later today with ATR Extra (the new name for Juicy Plums). We’ll be targeting the prices in the Eider Chase up at Newcastle.
Against the Crowd