An each-way pick on Day 3 at Punchestown....

Last Updated: 28.04.2016

Thursday, 28th April 2016

Good morning, contrarians,

On the menu today….

  • No return – but I was happy with the bet….
  • An each-way pick in the handicap hurdle (6.05)….

No return – but I was happy with the bet….

No joy for me in the two races I played in yesterday….

Road To Riches came a cropper two fences from home in the Gold Cup. It was disappointing in the moment but, in the cold light of day, I can’t be too downhearted. The 9yo had given a cracking account of himself up to that point….

Whether or not he would have won had he stood up is a subject open to debate. But he showed exactly why his trainer Noel Meade wanted him to run in the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.

I didn’t draw a penny on the horse but I think the horse justified a bet at yesterday morning’s double-figure prices. I think he did enough to prove the market had the price wrong about him.

In the big handicap chase the fancied horses dominated with the first 4 in the betting all making the first 5 places….

My own selection Kylecrue showed up until 4 fences out and got round. That’s as good as it got….

I move on to Day 3 of the Punchestown Festival….

An each-way pick in the handicap hurdle….

The big 3-mile handicap hurdle – the Murray Spelman (6.05) – is the one contest that gets my juices flowing today….

Philip Hobbs’s horses have retained their verve and are still producing wins and running up-to-form into the late season period. I’ll be supporting his 7-year-old SYKES at this morning’s general 20s.

He’s been a beaten favourite in 3 of his last 4 races. In other words there has been a decent level of expectation about the horse but he hasn’t delivered. That might put some punters off….

So too might the comments of form-readers in the mainstream racing press who seem to feel the horse needs soft or heavy ground to produce his best….

I take the view that the horse has been getting bogged down in the winter ground. I think he needs a better surface. I think he’ll improve for it. I think on this afternoon’s better surface that he can start delivering on some of the expectation that recent market money represents.

He’s risen a stone up the weights since September but I don’t think he’s handicapped out of it.

The time before last he put in a taking effort in defeat – making up a lot of ground late on in a race where the winner had been able to boss the pace and where Sykes had been out the back. He went up 3lb for that – a rise that looked conservative rather than conclusive.

Last time out at Haydock his jumping let him down. He’ll need to get that right this afternoon. But he would have finished closer without the mistake and he can do business on 128.

Ciaran Gethings travels to Ireland for the ride. He knows the horse well and takes off a helpful 5lbs.

The Contrarian Bet Box….

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

In the Murray Spelman Handicap Hurdle (6.05)....

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – SYKES each-way (20s 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. Stay tuned for more tomorrow when I’ll be in your email box tomorrow afternoon with details of where my money will be going over the Guineas weekend at Newmarket….

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd