Thursday, 7th April 2016
Good morning, contrarians,
On the menu today….
The world keeps turning and the big meetings keep coming round.
This week I’m at Aintree for the Grand National meeting – 3 days of top racing which lead toward Saturday’s showpiece event (moved to an early evening slot this year).
Lets’ not get ahead of ourselves though. We’ve got a couple of days of quality action to enjoy before we get to Saturday.
This afternoon’s card boasts some interesting races – including a quartet of G1 contests to get the meeting underway in style.
I don’t feel the need to play in every race. Unlike the bookie I get to pick and choose which races to bet in.
As you know, I don’t look for winners. Instead I seek out value prices and am content to the winners take care of themselves over time. If I can’t find value, then I won’t play. There’s no point in reaching for bets or putting horses up just for the sake of it.
If you’re following me in on my contrarian selections, welcome aboard. We will stand or fall together. If you’re going your own way, good luck to you. Let’s get cracking….
Alan King and Paul Nicholls are the two yards with the strongest recent record in the Anniversary 4yo Juvenile Hurdle (2.15) and both are represented this afternoon….
Nicholls saddles the horses that produced a 1-2 in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham – Diego Du Charmil and Romain De Senam. King saddles Sceau Royal.
Diego Du Charmil trades at 9s – more than twice as short as Romain De Senam. Given the former was almost beaten at the death by the latter at Cheltenham that might seem an odd disparity in price. Ordinarily I might look to take advantage.
But I wonder how straightforward Romain De Senam is. He gave himself a lot to do at Cheltenham and needed every inch of the hill and a couple of fallers to get where he did.
Afterwards Nick Scholfield conceded the result was better than expected. He was being ridden along two out at Cheltenham. The hill helped. Tight and perfectly flat Aintree won’t give him the same get-out-of-jail should he get behind.
I’m also mindful that Triumph Hurdle form has clearly out-punched Fred Winter form in this event since it was awarded G1 status in 2005. The market has – as you’d expect – found the Triumph principals. The one-two-three at Cheltenham are the 1-2-3 in the betting for this.
The one that might have been missed is King’s SCEAU ROYAL – which can be backed at 22s with Coral & Betway and 20s in general. He was well fancied for the Triumph, held a nice position 2-out but didn’t finish his race off – disappointing connections and supporters in the market.
The King yard was under a bit of a cloud at the time. But things have picked up since with 72% of recent runners running to form. He’s also reported as being fresh and ready to go at home.
At the prices, I can forgive one poor run. This horse has been highly thought of all season – not least by jockey Daryl Jacob who refers to him as one of the fastest jumpers he’s ever ridden. If he can recapture earlier sparkle then he can redeem himself this afternoon. At the price he’s a solid each-way bet.
It is well documented how much Willie Mullins would like to win the Aintree Hurdle (3.25).
He hasn’t managed it yet but has two very good horses flying his flag this afternoon – Annie Power and Nichols Canyon, the winner and the 3rd in this year’s Champion Hurdle.
My Tent Or Yours separated them at Cheltenham – in a knocking good performance off a 703 day break. He reopposes today. Plenty of punters will support him. I get it. But I can’t see past the potential for bounce with him. And I am mindful he is stepping up in trip too.
The market likes Annie Power. Fair enough. The extra distance of this race has seen plenty of Champion Hurdler winners fail to back up at Aintree but it shouldn’t really pose a problem for her – having placed in a World Hurdle. And she does get the mares’ 7lb allowance.
She’s a worthy favourite and will take the beating. But, at the prices, my preference is for the second-string and six-time G1 winner, NICHOLS CANYON.
He ran a cracker in the Champion Hurdle, doing his best work late on. But I think he’s a better horse over further and won well over course and distance at this meeting last year after getting beaten at Cheltenham.
At this afternoon’s trip he shouldn’t be trading as big as he is against Annie Power. She’s 4/7. He’s 5s with Betway and Betfair Sportsbook. For me that price represents value. It’s not quite an each-way price for my money (you must take a view on that) but I’ll certainly be backing Nichols Canyon to win.
I can’t let a big handicap chase go by without having a crack at it and the Red Rum Handicap Chase (4.40) very much fits the bill this afternoon.
The one I like at the prices is Evan Williams’s GOING CONCERN which can be backed at 20s with Skybet, BetVictor, Betfair Sportsbook and Betway and 16s generally this morning.
Forget his last-time-out performance in January. The ground that day was way too deep for him. Look instead at his effort the time before that at Cheltenham.
Even the soft ground he encountered there wouldn’t have seen him at his best. But he still managed to produce a career-best effort that day in defeat to Pearls Legend. The two of them had pulled well clear of the rest.
That one reopposes today but Going Concern is weighted to reverse the form of that Cheltenham race and I anticipate the 9yo improving again for better ground. He’s clearly been kept back for a better surface and I expect a big run at a nice each-way price.
The Contrarian Bet Box….
To recap where the value is today….
In the Anniversary 4yo Novices’ Hurdle (2.15)....
In the Aintree Hurdle (3.25)....
In the Red Rum Handicap Chase (4.40)...
That is where my money will be going this afternoon. 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. I’ll be back with my picks for Day 2 of the meeting tomorrow morning.