The pick of the prices in the Challenge Cup....

Last Updated: 30.09.2016

30th September 2016

Good afternoon, friends,

In today’s ATC Extra bulletin….

  • Splitting-the-field for Saturday’s Challenge Cup….
  • Pick up my bets for Arc day at Chantilly….
  • The pick of the prices….

Splitting the field for Saturday’s Challenge Cup….

After a winning effort last Saturday from Harry Hurricane at Haydock, this week we’re targeting the prices in tomorrow’s Challenge Cup at Ascot (3.40) – where a field of 18 will go at it up the 7f straight.

There are numerous ways of splitting a big handicap field. Some are general. Some are race-specific. And you can get as creative as you like. There is no right or wrong basis on which to do it.

But it should be remembered that field-splitting rarely points directly to a winner. Field-splitting is just a method that enables you to look at a race and its runners from a weighted and specific perspective.

You are not bound by the findings of any field-splitting exercise. Cutting a field up into constituent parts – on whatever basis you choose to do it – is about seeking information as opposed to obtaining instruction….

The stats are always a useful port of call to see how the strongest trends chop the runners up….

  • Based on the dataset produced by the last 10 renewals of the race, recent form is a decent chopping block in the Challenge Cup – 9 of the last 10 winners had finished in the first 4 places on each of their last two runs on turf….
  • That dataset also suggests we’re not looking for horses that have already done all their winning earlier in the term – 9 of the last 10 winners had won no more than a single race during the entire season to date….
  • Horses turning up having produced a top 5 finish in the Ayr Gold Cup have a strong record – the last 11 qualifiers to step up in trip at Ascot produced 4 wins and a place. The Ayr Gold Cup is a good feeder race generally (no matter where the horse finished) – 5 of the last 7 winners came out of the Scottish showpiece….
  • Horses drawn low have had the edge – with horses drawn in stalls 1 to 10 winning seven editions of the race over the last decade….

We’ll get to my selections in a moment. First a word or two on what I’ll be backing in France on Sunday….

Pick up my bets for Arc day at Chantilly….

Over on my paid Against the Crowd service this afternoon we’re focused on Arc day over at Chantilly on Sunday….

  • In the Arc I think the value lies in a well-advantaged horse – one that is improving with every run – which can be bet at a big double-figure price….
  • And I’m going two-against-the-field in the Abbaye over the 5f trip – a race in which I’ve got no qualms about taking on the favourite at a short price….
  • I’m siding with two horses that have proved they belong at the top level this term with a series of strong showings in the biggest sprint races. Both can be backed each-way at double-figure prices….

If you’re looking for a couple more bets for the weekend you can access those picks free of charge right now by taking a FREE test-drive of my Against the Crowd service….

Pick up my value bets for Sunday afternoon at Chantilly….


The pick of the prices in the Challenge Cup….

Back to the Challenge Cup at Ascot tomorrow (3.40)….

Librisa Breeze – up 16lbs this term – is a clear-cut favourite at 6s but a glut of eight horses directly behind him in the market and priced up at quotes between 10s and 12s tells you how competitive a race this is….

I’ve had a good look at the lower reaches of the market and nothing stands out as a bet at an out-and-out big price. The layers have got this one about right.

Third favourite in the market at 10s is not a typical bet for this column – but sometimes pragmatism has to conquer instincts to shoot high and SQUATS is a reasonable enough bet at a double-figure price.

Last time out at Ascot he was behind Dutch Uncle and Firmament who both re-oppose tomorrow afternoon – but he gave every impression that he can overturn that form under different circumstances.

Ryan Moore gave him a lot to do from towards the rear of the field that day. All the horses that beat him got going a bit sooner. But, once the 4yo found a clear passage to run into, he finished his race off really strongly and was eating up ground at the end.

A 2lb hike in the weights shouldn’t stop a horse that has performed with distinction at the Berkshire track on multiple occasions and I’m mindful that his yard is in better form than most at the moment. He’ll be up against horses running out of yards that are struggling for consistency as we head into the autumn. That’s a distinct advantage.

I’ve spent a bit of time this morning deliberating over whether to back the Haggas horse each-way at the 10s or whether to back two for the straight win and I’ve gone for the latter option.

GROWL is my second pick at 12s.

We know that Ayr Gold Cup placers have a strong recent record in this race. The 4yo finished 2nd in this season’s edition – and he needed every yard of the 6f trip to do so.

He very much gave the impression that the step-up to tomorrow’s 7f trip will suit. He certainly produced a solid enough performance in the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket over 7f in July to give supporters plenty of encouragement.

He’s gone up the weights to the tune of 15lbs this term and runs off a mark of 103 tomorrow. But there’s clearly scope for more improvement still if an entry in the Champions Sprint Stakes is a true indication of how far trainer Richard Fahey believes his charge can go in time.

They must think he can develop into something better than a handicapper. If that’s the case then the in-form son of Oasis Dream should be there or thereabouts tomorrow afternoon and the price is fair enough in the context of this specific race.

The ATC Extra bet recap….

Remember, we don’t have to be betting in hundreds to make the game worthwhile or fun. A spend of a few quid is plenty to be going on with….

  • SQUATS @ 10s (Generally)
  • GROWL @ 12s (Generally) 

Note: I should reiterate that my personal plan here is to back the pair straight win. I won’t be betting each-way. But my preferences and peccadillos might not align with your own and exactly how you bet is your call. The standard place terms are 1/4 1-2-3-4.


That’s all from me this week. Enjoy your weekend.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd Extra