Where my contrarian money is going at Haydock....

Last Updated: 27.05.2016

Friday, 27th May 2016

Good afternoon, contrarians,

On the menu today….

  • Two against the field in the Sandy Lane (Haydock 3.45)….
  • Backing the Stoute bid for black type (Haydock 3.10)….
  • Back later today with ATC Extra….

Two against the field in the Sandy Lane….

It’s not the biggest weekend on the racing calendar. There’s no really big Pattern race to get excited about. Nor is there any particularly big handicap to get our teeth into.

But there are some decent races to look at on the card at Haydock – and there are some nice bets to be struck at the prices.

Take the Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock (Sat 3.45). Having been lifted from Listed class to Group 2 and run at the time of year it is, the race has become a useful attraction for horses aimed at the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot – the 6f G1 event for 3yo horses that was introduced to the Royal meeting just last year.

Lethal Force won this race on his way to success at the top level. And more recently up-and-coming horses like Aeolus and Adaay have taken the honours.

This year a field of 8 runners go to post on ground described today as good to soft. There’s a chance of a light shower in the morning but the forecast points overwhelmingly to dry weather and the ground is likely to get quicker rather than slower by the time they go off tomorrow afternoon.

Hugo Palmer is very much on the market radar this term and his Gifted Master is a warm order at a best price of 7/4 this morning.

Fair enough. The horse has done nothing wrong, he’s unbeaten in his 4 starts to date, he’s plenty fit having already raced twice this term and he appears to handle any type of ground. But his yard isn’t firing quite the way it was and this race does represent a step up in Grade against a number of opponents with some experience at this level and at G1 level.

I’m not saying the horse can’t make the leap. Most likely he can. But I don’t want to be backing him to do so at the short price.  

All of the last 10 winners of this race had already appeared that season on the track. At the prices that’s a stat that steers me away from La Rioja.

AJAYA hasn’t had a run either. But at 12s I reckon that’s factored in and trainer William Haggas has enjoyed success in this race with two winners from a 15-year representation of just 3 runners.

Granted, both those winners turned up on the back of a seasonal run. But, at the price, I’m prepared to bet Haggas will have his charge fit enough first time up to build on an impressive win in last season’s Gimcrack at York.

Place terms of 1/5 1-2-3 don’t make much appeal and I’m minded to back two-against-the-field on the nose with K R Burke’s QUIET REFLECTION at 10s my second selection.

Fillies don’t have a bad record in the race – winning 3 and placing 5 times from a 15-year representation of 20 runners. The 3lb allowance is clearly pretty useful.

Burke’s filly has only been beaten once in 5 runs – in last season’s Lowther where she almost got knocked off her feet early doors. She made a pleasing enough winning return in France in April and her yard is firing very nicely at the moment. I like the price about her in a really competitive little race.

Backing the Stoute bid for black type….

Sir Michael Stoute has been pretty quiet so far in terms of entries in the Pattern races – just 7 to date. But 4 of those produced a win as our European Pattern Race League Table reveals and CONVEY can add to that record at a general 7s in tomorrow’s Timeform Jury Stakes at Haydock (3.10).

He produced a career-best on my figures on his handicap debut last time out at York over the mile. He didn’t get a clear run – getting trapped on the rails - and he was probably unlucky not to win. By the time Ryan Moore got him out James Doyle had gone on with the winner Always Smile and Moore couldn’t quite peg him back.

It is fair to say that Convey was running out of gas inside the last 100 yards of that race and this step back to 7f gives him every chance of building on that performance and going on again.

After the York race connections talked about having a crack at the lottery that is the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot next. But he pitches up here tomorrow. I can’t see him needing the run given that last-time-out performance and I’m inclined to take the view that he’s bouncing at home and connections are taking the opportunity to capitalise and bank a bit of black type with this lightly-raced 4yo.

The first-time cheekpieces may well have contributed to the York performance. They are fitted again tomorrow. I think the 7s is a reasonable enough price about a horse that should be right on-song to produce another improved performance.  

The Contrarian Bet Box….

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

In the Sandy Lane Stakes (Haydock 3.45)....

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – AJAYA (12s generally) & QUIET REFLECTION (10s generally)

In the Timeform Jury Stakes (Haydock 3.10)....

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – CONVEY (7s 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 for now. But I’ll be back in your inbox later today with ATC Extra. We’ll be targeting prices in tomorrow’s mile handicap at Haydock.

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Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd