In my book a favourite exists for one reason only – and this one is no different….

Last Updated: 04.06.2020

 Thursday, 4th June 2020

In my book a favourite exists for one reason only – and this one is no different….


‘Look for the fairy tale....’

That was betting advice I received from some old Irish backer of horses who used to get into Harold Penks’ betting shop in Congleton back in the late 1980s....

I can’t remember the guy’s name. And I think he might have been talking specifically about the Grand National....

But racing frequently throws up a fairy tale result –  as though some supranatural power gets involved to set something straight, make something right or balance something up in the world....

And after the event, it all seems so obvious – so prescient, so written in the stars....

If Pinatubo wins the 2000 Guineas on Saturday, that will be a bit of a fairy tale result because it will make a fitting tribute to his sire Shamardal – who died in April aged 18....

And the market really does fancy the fairy tale coming true. At 10/11 in the ante-post marketPinatubo is the hottest 2000 Guineas fancy since Frankel in 2011....

And that’s fair enough. But one thing I can tell you for sure is this: I’ll be taking him on. More shortly. First this....

  • Dosage profiles for this year’s field....

Greetings from South Derbyshire....

We’ve done a bit of work in preparation for the 2000 Guineas....

We had a look at pointers provided by winning horses across the last 20-years. And we went back 30-years with our Dosage profile research – and we came to some potentially useful conclusions....

Last night, I went through the Dosage profiles of the horses set to go on Saturday – to see how they fit with what we know....

If you were planning to do the same, I can save you the bother of data-gathering. The table below contains the details....

Horse

B

I

C

S

P

PTS

DI

CD

Al Suhail

2

12

6

11

1

32

1.13

0.09

Arizona

4

4

8

2

0

18

2.00

0.56

Cepheus

3

10

15

0

0

28

2.73

0.57

Juan Elcano

1

3

12

12

0

28

0.56

-0.25

Kameko

5

8

9

2

0

24

2.69

0.67

Kenzai Warrior

3

6

11

4

0

24

1.53

0.33

Kinross

3

2

7

2

0

14

1.55

0.43

Military March

2

10

23

7

0

42

1.27

0.17

Mums Tipple

4

6

14

2

0

26

1.89

0.46

New World Tapestry

4

8

20

6

0

38

1.38

0.26

Persuasion

3

6

9

8

0

26

1.08

0.15

Pinatubo

1

12

19

5

1

38

1.45

0.18

Royal Dornoch

3

15

12

6

0

36

2.00

0.42

Starcat

0

9

9

0

0

18

3.00

0.50

Wichita

5

8

4

0

1

18

5.00

0.89

I’ll make my betting decisions tomorrow. Meantime, you might want to give it some thought yourself....

On another note, we’re 3-days into resumption now and the trainers in form are starting to show themselves. The table below shows the who is doing it most effectively as we head into day 4 – ordered by wins. John Gosden is clearly not considered the top man in the game by chance....

Trainer

W

P

TP

R

TP%

John Gosden

5

4

9

14

64.3

Mark Johnston

5

1

6

20

30.0

Andrew Balding

3

1

4

10

40.0

Richard Fahey

3

3

6

30

20.0

Sir Michael Stoute

3

4

7

11

63.6

Archie Watson

2

2

4

7

57.1

Shaun Keightley

2

0

2

2

100.0

Tim Easterby

2

2

4

14

28.6

  • I am a contrarian punter....

In my book favourites exist for one reason only – to be opposed. I’m a contrarian punter. I go against the crowd and against the grain – as a matter of course....

never back favourites or other short-priced horses. That’s my default setting. I’m wired-up to always take the fancied horses on. I’m pig-headed and bloody-minded that way....

Of course, plenty of favourites win – about 37.5% of them overall – and when they do, I do my money....

But that’s okay. That’s part and parcel of the game. I never mind being beaten by a horse who proves good enough to justify his short price....

But more favourites lose than win. That’s a fact. And when they lose, my intention is to be on the horse that turns them over at a nice price....

That’s easier said than done. And I get more wrong than I get right. But that’s the way I play – and I won’t be changing anytime soon....

On Saturday afternoon, the punting masses will be with the boys in blue. Pinatubo is a Godolphin horse and he’ll be carrying millions of pounds of wagers....

I can tell you that for sure. The other thing I can tell you for sure is that my money will be riding on something else. What? I’m not sure at this stage. But definitely not Pinatubo....

  • I’m not stupid, but....

Look, I’m not stupid. I know the time of day. Pinatubo is a hotly fancied 2000 Guineas favourite for more than just one good reason....

He’s unbeaten in six races. He won two G1s as a juvenile and he’s already banked £750k in prize money....

He won the G2 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood by 5-lengths....

Then he went to the Curragh and won the G1 National Stakes by a breath-taking 9-lengths....

In October he capped his season off by going to Newmarket and winning the Dewhurst....

In short, in 2019 Pinatubo set himself apart as the best juvenile of his generation. He goes into his 3yo season officially rated 128....

What does that mean? Well, if you’re looking for quick and dirty context and perspective, then consider this: The mighty Frankel was rated 126 at the same stage of his career....

I know all of that. But I don’t care. The price is there to be taken on – and that’s what I’ll be doing this weekend....

  • Questions to be answered....

I never need a reason to take on a fancied horse. I do it as a matter of course. I can’t have short prices. Something in my temperament outright rejects them....

In any case, so many short-priced horses get turned over it seems silly to me not to oppose them....

If I get it wrong, no matter. I’ll be the first to salute the winner. And if Pinatubo wins on Saturday, I’ll be the first to salute him too. But I won’t be turning down the opportunity to oppose him at nice prices. No chance....

Perhaps he really is a 2lb better horse than Frankel was at the same stage of his career. Perhaps Pinatubo will prove a better horse altogether....

But there aren’t many too many horses like Frankel dotted across history. And I’d say that the future will deliver a large proportion of horses who are compared favourably to him before ultimately falling short....

And then there’s Pinatubo in his own right – forget comparisons with the greats....

Has he trained on? Will he be the same horse at 3 as he was as a juvenile? Will the others – or at least some of them – have bridged the gap over the winter?

How might the delayed start to the season have affected his preparations and his fitness levels? Is the lack of a prep race going to be an issue?

He had six races as a juvenile. That’s at the top end of the scale for a 2000 Guineas winner. Is that going to be a pigeon that comes home to roost?

There’s plenty of hype about the horse. Plenty of column inches have been written. But he’s not a horse that shows much at home, so even his closest connections can’t be entirely sure where they are at with him ahead of Saturday....

  • Unknowns in the pot....

There are unknowns in the pot. That’s the bottom line....

He might overcome them all. But are they correctly factored into an odds-on ante-post price?

I don’t know. But I’ll be taking the price on....

Outside of an individual horse’s ability, there are at least a dozen in-race reasons a fancied horse can get beat....

They all underperform from time to time. They can all encounter bad luck in-running. They can all run into one that is simply better than thought possible beforehand....

Things can go wrong. The best laid plans can fall through. It can just turn out to be the wrong day....

All those unknowns and potential wrinkles that you can’t legislate for ahead of time run in the favour of the contrarian punter willing to take the good thing on....

For the fav-backer at a short price, it all has to go right and run smooth....

For a contrarian like me, one thing going wrong can get the favourite turned over....

If that comes to pass, all I have to do is make sure I’m on the right one at a price. That’s the difficult part. I’ll have a crack at it tomorrow....

  • The final word....

That’s all from me for now....

I’ll be back tomorrow with my contrarian take on the weekend action. Stay tuned....

All the best.

Nick Pullen

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd