Up for the Cup at Chester....

Last Updated: 04.05.2016

Wednesday, 4th May 2016

Good afternoon, contrarians,

On the menu today….

  • So right, so wrong….
  • Ups and downs….
  • Up for the Cup at Chester….
  • Kimberella’s price – short enough to put me off….

So right, so wrong….

Air Force Blue did what I expected in the 2000 Guineas.

He failed to stay the trip, he got well-beaten and he disappointed a lot of punters at a very short price.

Now the horse has something to prove.

Last week he was unbeatable. This week the talk is that he didn’t feel like the same horse as last year to Ryan Moore and might not have trained on. A week makes a big difference in politics and in racing….

Air Force Blue will now revert to sprint trips – which his breeding said he would be most suited to all along.

My own problems in the 2000 Guineas were two-fold.

First off, my selection Buratino didn’t stay the trip either. He was well beaten too. And he will also now revert to sprint trips.

Second, I managed to talk myself out of including the winner Galileo Gold. The ground didn’t dry up as much as I’d expected. And, even if it had, the horse produced a performance that suggested he was going to win anyway.

Fair play. To horse and connections. They were willing to change plans on the hoof and switch the focus from the French Guineas to the English version. And they got their reward.

For me it was a winner missed. And a winner missed feels twice as bad as a loser.

Fortunately, not everybody listens to me. Or if they do, they engage in a bit of judicial translation – reading between the lines and bringing their own ideas to bear.

Yesterday reader EB got in touch….

‘Thanks for Galileo Gold today, read between the lines that you really liked it. Appreciate the work….’

It is long odds-on that I don’t deserve the accolade. But it is nice to hear someone got paid out.

Ups and downs….

Over in the 1000 Guineas on Sunday the favourite wasn’t for getting beaten….

Minding justified her status as market leader and led home a shut-out for Aidan O’Brien with two stablemates filling the frame behind her….

In the context of the race my contrarian pick Turret Rocks ran a cracker to finish 6th of 16 under Kevin Manning.

But 6th don’t get the bills paid. From a purely betting perspective, it wasn’t quite good enough.

And that was pretty much the story of my week.

I got well-beaten in the handicaps on Saturday. And it was a frustrating few days at Punchestown last week – for varying reasons.

I love the racing and I find betting great fun. Which is just as well because there are periods when fun is all I get out of it….

Old hands know the drill. Newer hands are fast getting to grips with it. When you play the racing game the contrarian way there inevitably losing spells when we lag behind the curve. Tough to take but unavoidable nevertheless….

The good news is that it doesn’t take much to turn the tables back in our favour – that’s the upside of playing the contrarian game and focusing on value prices…..

Up for the Cup at Chester….

Chester’s 3-day May meeting gets underway this afternoon….

I’m a son of Cheshire and this afternoon’s Chester Cup (3.10) over 2m2f – requiring about 15 circuits (at least it seems that way) of the tiny track – was for many years my ‘local’ big race and has a special place in my affections….

When the entries were released for this year’s edition the in-form Ralph Beckett’s Moonrise Landing took my interest.

But when the draw was made he got stall 19 – any wider and he’d have to be standing in the River Dee. Beckett pulled him out (I’m assuming the high draw was the reason).

The horse has an entry in the Yorkshire Cup and one in the Gold Cup at Ascot. I’ll be interested to see if Beckett finds something for him in the meantime.

The draw is always going to be an issue at the tight Cheshire track. Despite the trip this race is no exception. Over the last 14 years it has paid to be drawn in the low or middle third of the field.

It is not impossible or out of the question to win from the top-third. It has been done. But 3 wins and 11 placed from 94 runs falls short of what the lower stalls have produced since 2002.

Richard Fahey has a solid record in this race with his last 15 participants producing 2 wins and 6 placers.

He’s throwing a few darts this season but it is GABRIAL THE HERO – drawn at the top end of the middle third in stall 12 – who looks the pick of the prices at 18s with Paul Hanagan up.

Fahey has only had the horse in his care since October. But performances on the all-weather over the winter suggest he has a tool to work with. He steps up in trip today. That’s the unknown but he’s been seeing his races out very well at 12f and tight turning Chester is not a bad place to roll the dice.

The other one I want to be with is not ideally located in the stalls. WILLIAM OF ORANGE runs out of stall 14 for Donald McCain.

The Cheshire handler has a solid record of his own in this race with two winners and a placer from just half a dozen runners over the course of the century. Today’s runner looks tailor-made.

Last autumn – when running for Sir Mark Prescott – he was sent off quite well fancied for the Cesarewitch. He disappointed that day and ran just once more for Prescott before heading to the McCain yard.

He’s been running over hurdles on unsuitable soft ground this winter – breaking his duck and doing okay. Back over the flat today on a more suitable he’s represents a very interesting runner at morning prices as big as 25s with BetVictor.

Kimberella’s price is short enough to put me off….

After his recent run at Ripon I highlighted Kimberella as a likely type to win a decent pot and he’s turned up in today’s Boodles Diamond Handicap (3.45) as I suspected. You can review my comments here.

His mark is very workable, he’s got a good draw on the inside and Franny Norton, who rides Chester as well as anybody, takes the ride. But the price – he’s 6s this morning – doesn’t get me too excited.

Bet365 went up with some 10s yesterday afternoon – but you had to move quickly to take advantage of that and the Staffordshire firm pretty quickly revised their opinion and drew their horns in.

All things considered I’m going to let the horse run this afternoon without my money in the saddlebag.

The Contrarian Bet Box….

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

In the Chester Cup (3.10)....

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – GABRIAL THE HERO each-way (18s BetVictor, 16s generally) & WILLIAM OF ORANGE each-way (25s BetVictor & 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.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd