Where my Contrarian money is going tomorrow....

Last Updated: 15.04.2016

Friday, 15th April 2016

Good afternoon, contrarians,

On the menu today….

  • Rain at Ayr will assist light-weights….
  • Where the Indicator points in the Scottish Grand National….
  • Where my money is going….
  • Elsewhere on the card….

Rain at Ayr will assist light-weights….

Yesterday I made the point that horses carrying 10-09 or less have held the whip-hand in recent editions of the Scottish Grand National (Saturday 4.10)….

The state of the ground at Ayr (soft) and the weather forecast (plenty of rain today) only harden my resolve to bet on that particular trend continuing….

This won’t be a typical Scottish Grand National. The race is usually run on genuine spring ground with plenty of bounce. This year the rain will serve to slow things down a bit.

For sure Ayr is a track that does drain well. The ground very rarely presents a gruelling test. But over tomorrow’s trip stamina will be an issue. And the horses carrying heavy loads of lead will be at an obvious disadvantage….

Our Indicator data for the race is now available to view on the Against the Crowd website. The box below outlines how I read and use that data….

Where the Indicator points….

Our Indicator tool seeks to establish which horses in our target race rank as ‘win’ and ‘place’ finishers on a series of scales relating to ratings, strike-rates and other measures that we think of as numerical expressions of an assortment of ‘opinions’….

We don’t necessarily expect the Indicator to call the exact finishing order in every race we target. Instead we are looking for a quick and dirty mechanical indication of which horses are the dominant finishers in the ‘opinion’ of most measures….

Multiple horses in tomorrow’s Scottish Grand National ‘win’ (yellow) or ‘place’ (blue) on at least one opinion scale. But some horses are more dominant than others (scoring more ‘wins’ and more ‘places’ than others)….

Taken as a whole, the Indicator data suggests the finishing order in tomorrow’s race will be as follows….

  • See You At Midnight
  • Measureofmydreams
  • Cause Of Causes

I’ll be having a small stakes Combination Tricast to that effect…. Just for fun….


Strictly fun – value-seeking requires more nuance….

My Indicator is a number-cruncher – nothing more and nothing less.

As a mechanical producer of selections for low downside/maximum upside bets like Combination Tricasts, it does what it says on the tin.

If you like a fun but highly-speculative bet the Indicator quickly points out likely types worth supporting to minimum stakes for the chance of a big pay-out now and again….

Value-seeking requires a bit more nuance and a bit more subtlety.

It requires you to pay attention to the detail, the specific circumstances surrounding the races and the conditions it will be run in – something the bare numbers don’t/can’t do. 

Value-seeking requires a more personal touch….

Where my money is going….

Monday through Thursday my focus is on providing insight, analysis, angles and pointers….

But I know that my readers also expect me to put my money where my mouth is and to share the details of where my money is going when the big races comes round.

Some readers like to follow me in – backing all my selections. Others pick and choose. Some mix and match my own selections with their own. Others like to sit back and paper trade my picks. More still ignore me completely and go their own way…. 

All I can do is to set out to do what I do – oppose the crowd, find the value, share my thinking and tell you what I will be backing with my own cash – and I am happy to do it….

In tomorrow’s Scottish Grand National I’ll be backing HIGHLAND LODGE at 20s.  

Highland Lodge had looked to be on the wane for a couple of years prior to this season’s Becher Chase at Aintree. But a change of yard seemed to work the magic and he won over the Grand National fences looking like a different horse.

That was off a mark of 132. The handicapper raised him to 137 – the mark he races off tomorrow. That rise shouldn’t be insurmountable. And we should bear in mind he was rated 143 at his peak.

James Moffatt has kept him back since that Aintree win. The plan was the Grand National but the 10-year-old didn’t get in. Connections were disappointed. A big run was expected over the big fences from this scopey jumper. But missing that race might turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

Tomorrow’s race should be a little easier to win. The ground is very much in Highland Lodge’s favour. And Moffatt reports that his charge is in better nick than he was last week. If he turns up like he was for the Becher earlier in the season then he’s a nice price to make it a real highland fling.

I’ll also be with MILBOROUGH at a big 33s.

The former Eider Chase winner has been considered a perfect fit for tomorrow’s race for quite some time.

The race was targeted by Ian Duncan last season. But the ground that day was always going to be too quick for the horse. As it was he unseated relatively early on in proceedings.

Tomorrow’s conditions will be much more up the 10-year-old’s street. And this time round he gets to race off 137 as opposed to last year’s 144. He’s dropped down the scale as a result of some less than impressive efforts early-season. But last time out at Carlisle in March he produced a much more pleasing effort.

With his mark surely lower than ‘true’ and with conditions having turned in his favour in a race that has been a serious target for a couple of seasons, I want to be with him at the big each-way price.

  • I’ll be playing both picks each-way. Shop around for a bookie offering Enhanced Place Terms of 1/4 1-2-3-4-5. Racebets offer top-price about both my selections and I am informed they will be offering 1/4 1-2-3-4-5. Other options include Bet Victor, Skybet & Paddy Power.

Elsewhere on the card….

Dan Skelton’s CH’ TIBELLO looks a decent bet at 9s for the Scottish Champion Hurdle (Saturday, 3.00).

He’s been kept back all year for a spring target and you can expect his in-form handler to have him spot on for the assignment.

It was only two runs back that the 5-year-old got to within 1.5 lengths of subsequent Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner, Altior, at Ascot – with the pair drawing well clear of the rest of the field.

Next time out he was beaten 9 lengths in the Gerry Feilden at Newbury by Sternrubin who reopposes tomorrow. But where Ch’ Tibello was conceding weight that day, tomorrow he gets 7lbs from the Hobbs horse whose had a busier season and a tough race at the Festival last time out.

Dan Skelton warns that his horse doesn’t want it too soft – but that what has been forecast is okay.

Maybe the best bet is to hold fire until tomorrow afternoon before going in. Take the time to see how right or wrong the weather forecasters get it.

I suspect if it is too soft Skelton will pull his runner and wait for more appropriate conditions. The horse is young and full of potential. There is always next season.

The Contrarian Bet Box….

To recap on where my contrarian money will be going tomorrow afternoon….

In the Scottish Champion Hurdle (3.00)....

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – CH’ TIBELLO (9s generally)

In the Scottish Grand National (4.10)....

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – HIGHLAND LODGE each-way (20s generally) & MILBOROUGH each-way (33s generally)

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 in your box next week. Enjoy the weekend. Enjoy the racing.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd