Bread and butter business in the Ladbrokes Trophy....

Last Updated: 29.11.2019

Friday, 29th November 2019

Bread and butter business in the Ladbrokes Trophy….

I’ve already got Yorkhill running for me at ante-post prices in tomorrow’s Ladbrokes Trophy Chase at Newbury (3.00)....

But that’s not going to stop me going in again today....

Ante-post bets are mere sport – long-range speculation. Anything that comes back from them is bonus....

Bets in the day-of-race markets are the bread and butter of the business....

It’s one of the best races of the year in my book. And we’ve got the biggest field in donkey’s years going to post. It’s set up to be a cracker....

  • Top of the market....

Nicky Henderson has a good record in this race – producing 3 winners and 5 placed finishers from just 22 runners since 2000….

In Ok Corral he has the race favourite this year. Henderson believes the JP McManus-owned horse has the ‘right profile’ for the race and you can’t get better than 11/2 this morning.

I can’t have that price in this kind of race and I am mindful that with just 3 chase assignments on his record to date the 9yo is a very inexperienced horse for this lofty task....

Cabaret Queen has been all the rage this week. Mullins, the last time out big-margin win at Limerick, and the yard’s principal rider in the saddle are constituent parts of a formula that adds up to a sure thing for a lot of punters....

But she has her own issues to overcome. Just 4 mares have run in this race since the turn of the century. It’s a tough ask up against the battle-hardened boys. And the 15/2 makes no appeal to this contrarian....

I’m not saying either horse can’t win. Just that I wouldn’t want to be backing either at the prices....

My preference is for the right kind of horses (competitive) at the wrong prices (undervalued by the market)....

We’ll get to that in a moment. First, context and intelligence....

  • This weekend’s watching brief....

The Saturday racing is not all about betting, of course....

It’s also an opportunity to gather information and to monitor events and situations that frequently elude the attention of a mainstream racing media that is fixated on the Pattern....

Here’s some of what my antenna will be tuned to tomorrow afternoon....

Experimentation – Colin Tizzard has a fine recent record in this race. Last year he saddled the first two home. This time around the race is something of a laboratory for the Tizzard-team. Elegant Escape and Mister Malarkey are both wearing first time headgear. Robinsfirth is having his first run since a wind-op. Tizzard would likely settle for just one of the three improving significantly for the tweak.... 

Pounds and ounces – Speaking of Elegant Escape. He was 2nd last year. But I don’t think last year’s renewal was a classic. And the horse is 5lbs higher at the weights this time around. If he wins off 160 then he is a proper Gold Cup horse. and it is still possible that he is better than he has so far shown. Weight is his problem. The last horse to carry 11-12 to victory in this race was Denman. And I’m not sure he is a Denman....

No slow – The other Tizzard runner is West Approach. He recently won his first race at Cheltenham at the 16th time of asking. Is a corner turned? I don’t know. But I do know that a 2-week break is against the horse in this fiercely competitive contest. And I’d be worried about the big field. He’s never won a race against more than six opponents. The only time he did go well against numbers they went as slow as treacle. They won’t be going slow tomorrow....

Strike rates – Only 7 horses have managed to win this race since 1994 with a sub-40% strike rate over fences going into the contest. Sixteen of tomorrow’s 25 runners don’t hit that yardstick. Will that prove to be a bona-fide field-splitter or a red-herring. Time will tell....

  • Going long in the Ladbrokes....

It looks like it’ going to be dry up until the off and my best guess is that it will be closer to good to soft than soft by then. But don’t hold me to it....

Fourteen of the last 22 winners were backed into top 3 positions in the betting by the time the tapes went up on Saturday afternoon....

That’s the kind of stat that has your average punter gluing his focus to the upper reaches of the market. The best advice I can give you is to forget about those numbers. If you can’t do that, just ignore them....

The beat here is prices. If the short ones go in, so be it. When the long one goes in, we want to be on it....

One long one I cannot resist tomorrow is Venetia Williams COMMODORE at the general 33s....

He’s one of the second season young guns bidding to make a big name for himself tomorrow. The difference between him and some of the others is that he’s already had a prep run at Bangor which I reckon will put him spot on for this....

He got beat by four of his seven opponents and was 14 lengths in arrears at the post. But one mistake cost him much of that ground and I was plenty encouraged by this seasonal return....

The bottom line is this: the 7yo is better than an official rating of 135. Mark my words. He gets in tomorrow off 10-1 just as Venetia Williams’ string is starting to come to hand. He’s a big price....

The other one I want to be with is Colin Tizzard’s ROBINSFIRTH at the general 25s....

His age – he’s 10 now – will put the diehard stats boys off. There are have only been four 10yo winners in the race’s 63-year history. But Robinsfirth not a typical 10yo having raced over fences just 8 times....

He’s fragile and he won’t take a lot of racing. So, he’s not got too many miles on the clock and should be fresher than most horses of his age....

He’s had a wind-op since last seen winning the Grand National Trial at Haydock in February and Tizzard has a habit of getting this horse race-fit and tuned-up to go well off long breaks....

I suspect it will be the same story tomorrow. I know the yard has primed the horse for this race. If they can get him to the start in one-piece, this talented horse can run a massive one....

  • In the Peter O’ Sullevan....

I am hoping that Dan Skelton runs Bennys King in the Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Chase at 1.15 rather than in the big race later on the (in which he is slated to carry the bare 10-00)….

If he does, then I will be a backer at the general 12s. I think he’s got a better chance of going well in the lesser race over the shorter trip under Harry Skelton rather than Bridget Andrews….

This is another young chaser on the up who has already been out on the track this term.

He was progressive last term winning 2 from 2 after joining Skelton from Venetia Williams….

He wasn’t quite at it last time at Stratford, but he wasn’t disgraced either and he will certainly improve for the outing….

I just think he’s a nice price about a horse that is going to improve having his third run for an in-form trainer….

Nick’s contrarian picks….

To recap on where my idea of the value lies tomorrow afternoon….

In the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase (3.00 @ Newbury).

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – COMMODORE (33s generally) & ROBINSFIRTH (25s generally)

In the Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Chase (1.15 @ Newbury).

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – BENNYS KING (12s 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.

  • A final word….

That’s all from me for today. I’ll be back next week with more handicap-focused insight and analysis....

Until next time. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd