A handicap pick on Day 1 at Punchestown....

Last Updated: 26.04.2016

Tuesday, 26th April 2016

Good afternoon, contrarians,

On the menu today….

  • Day 1 at the Punchestown Festival….
  • Better ground is the key to the bet….
  • Reading between the lines….

Day 1 at the Punchestown Festival….

There’s a case for saying that the National Hunt season is in danger of going on just a little too long….

Once they’ve been going for a month on the flat and the Guineas weekend at Newmarket is in sight, the majority of racing fans have already turned their focus onto the summer version of the sport….

But, and understandably so, the Irish want their own big end-of-season Festival with which to round things off and this week Punchestown plays host to a final round of championship races – following hard on the heels of those run on this side of the Irish sea at the Cheltenham Festival and at Aintree’s Grand National meeting – for the winter-game folk to shoot at….

I don’t intend to get too deeply involved this week but I will certainly be taking an interest in some of the handicaps run at the meeting and looking to home in on prices that offer a bit of value….

This afternoon the Grade B Killashee Handicap Hurdle (4.55) has attracted a nice entry and there’s one I fancy to improve at a big each-way price….

Better ground is the key to the bet….

Not too many of the trainers with runners in this afternoon’s race have been banging the winners in recently….

In total (over the last 14 days) the 17 individual handlers have had 107 runners and produced just 15 winners between them – 7 of those winners being produced by Willie Mullins whose string has held its form from start to finish this term….

His one runner in the race is the French import BAMAKO MORIVIERE and the 5yo is the bet at 20s.

The pick certainly isn’t the result of anything the horse has shown on the track in recent times. He’s highly thought of – the fact that he runs in Rich Ricci’s tells you that much – but he’s done very little to justify himself at this point.

He ran well enough at Limerick at Christmas. He was then stepped up in class and entered in a decent handicap hurdle at Leopardstown in January. There wasn’t much in the way of money for him and he was pulled up before two out….

Last time out he was stepped up in trip at Naas – with Ruby Walsh taking the ride on the horse for the first time. He wasn’t over-backed. And that’s just as well because he ran an absolute stinker on the day – finishing 10th of 11 runners and beaten more than 20 lengths….

He’s hard to back on the basis of any evidence you’ll find already logged in the form book. But I’m mindful that his runs over the winter have been on bad ground. And I think he’s just the type to improve on anything he’s shown to date on better ground.

Ruby Walsh – a better judge than me – thinks so too. He said as much prior to the Cheltenham Festival – where the horse was entered in a number of races.

Those entries suggest that Mullins certainly hasn’t given up on or permanently downgraded his charge. But ultimately the Festival plans went west when the official handicapper chose not to give the horse an official rating.

So he pitches up here at Punchestown this afternoon – running out of a top yard, for a major owner, at a big price, and on ground that will suit him better than anything he’s seen on a track since leaving France last year and which is quite likely to improve him.

I’ll be supporting the horse each-way….

The Contrarian Bet Box….

To recap on where my contrarian money will be going in this afternoon’s Killashee Handicap Hurdle (4.55) ….

  • Nick’s Contrarian Pick – BAMAKO MORIVIERE each-way (20s generally)

Note: Most bookies are going ¼ odds 4 places EW, but you can get 5 places with Racebets.

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. Stay tuned. I’ll be back tomorrow morning.  

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd