Friday, 22nd July 2016
Good afternoon, contrarians,
On the menu today….
Two big handicaps – one at Ascot and the other at York – provide the action of most interest to value-hunters this weekend….
Richard Fahey’s NUNO TRISTAN at 20s catches my eye in the Gigaset International Stakes over the straight 7f trip at Ascot (3.55).
He’s a progressive sort on turf and arrives tomorrow in pretty much the form of his life. On his seasonal turf debut he ran with promise over the 7f at York. Just a week later at Redcar he showed the benefit of that pipe-opener – winning in good style at Redcar with quite a bit in hand over several opponents that have gone on to post subsequent wins.
He was held-up that day – hitting the front a furlong out, quickening away nicely and getting every inch of the trip. That running style should make him a perfect match for Jamie Spencer who takes the ride tomorrow….
Spencer is, as we know, the master rider of the straight at Ascot and his record of riding for Fahey bears inspection too. Over the last 18 months or so they’ve combined on 33 horses and produced 8 winners.
Spencer will not have been booked by accident or as an after-thought. There are obviously no guarantees in a race of this nature – but an in-form horse with the track expert on his back is no bad combination at the price.
The other one I like is DONT BOTHER ME – also trading at 20s in the early-market.
He was put up 10lb for his recent win at Leopardstown – and that might put people off. But his current mark of 98 is the same mark he ran off when finishing 2nd behind Heavy Metal in the 2014 edition of this race.
That might seem like old form now. But it was only half-a-dozen runs ago for a horse who only appeared twice last season for his current and original handler, Niall Moran (the horse spent 2014 in the care of Marco Botti).
Next time out he was well beaten in a G3 back at Leopardstown – but I can disregard that run. He was probably punching above his weight that day. And the softer ground wouldn’t have been helpful to him either.
Tomorrow he’s back at a level he can cope with, on a mark he can do business off on a track and ground that he’s demonstrated a liking for previously – whilst there are showers about today it will be warm tomorrow and I’m anticipating relatively quick ground.
Seamie Heffernan, who was on the horse for the Leopardstown win in May, is able to ride for Moran tomorrow – which represents another plus. The bottom lines is that Irish raider has got plenty going for him at a decent price.
The Skybet Dash Stakes at York (4.10) over the straight 6f is another excellent target this weekend….
JUDICIAL was beaten when well-backed last time out at Musselburgh – but he pretty much beat himself that afternoon by rearing on exiting the stalls and forfeiting ground he was never going to make up. His race was over in a split second and you can draw a line through it.
Prior to that he produced a very smart performance to win at Thirsk with the likes of Kimberella, Lexington Place and Blaine to the rear. Purely on figures, a slither of improvement on that effort would be good enough to win a median renewal of this race.
The 4-year-old has only raced 5 times on turf so there is more than enough scope for that progression to be found. The step up in trip to 6f for the first time could well find it. Judicial is a little more stoutly bred than most who thrive over the minimum distance and he could very well improve for it.
He is a little bit quirky. Rearing last time, getting warm down at the start at Thirsk – he’s not straightforward. This time he’ll have the services of the experienced Tom Queally in the plate and, if that and the extra furlong conspire to help him put his best foot forward, then he has a lot of upside appeal at a general 14s.
The Contrarian Bet Box….
To recap on where my contrarian money will be going tomorrow afternoon….
In the Gigaset International Stakes (3.55 Ascot)....
In the Skybet Dash Stakes (4.10 York)....
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.
I’ll be back in your inbox a little later with ATC Extra. Stay tuned.