I'm betting like a lion in tomorrow's 2000 Guineas....

Last Updated: 05.06.2020

Friday, 5th June 2020

I’m betting like a lion in tomorrow’s 2000 Guineas….

‘What’s going to win?’

That’s a common question. I get asked it regularly. Ahead of all the big races – every weekend that ever comes along. I always provide the same response. ‘No idea....’

How can I know what is going to win? I am not clairvoyant. I am not a witch doctor....

Nobody knows what’s going to win any horse race. Not for certain. Anybody who says he does, is a liar, a fool or a raving lunatic.....

There is no pre-determined outcome endorsed by God that’s just waiting to unfold tomorrow afternoon in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket – an outcome you can tune into like a radio frequency....

A horse race is a dynamic event contested by multiple living and breathing half-ton animals made of blood, muscle, flesh and bone. And it is an event  impacted by a whole range of uncertain and unpredictable variables....

Anything can happen in a horse race. Nobody knows what is going to happen ahead of time. Not for sure....

  • Collective wisdom....

Chances are the best horse will win – the best one being the one that gets one from one end of the track to the other faster than the rest....

In tomorrow’s 2000 Guineas the best horse – on all known evidence – is Pinatubo. The market tells you that....

And the market ain’t no fool. The market reflects all the knowledge and information and opinion that is out there concerning the race and all the participants – and condenses it all into a single set of prices that express each horse’s percentage chance of winning....

And the odds-on price about Pinatubo tells you that that Charlie Appleby’s colt is the most likely winner of the race – based on all that is known and considered likely by all the market participants....

The market also tells you that Arizona (trained by the most successful trainer in 2000 Guineas history) is the most likely horse to turn the favourite over....

.... and that the in-form Andrew Balding (with 5 winners and 3 placers from his 14-runners over the last 4-days) has a strong shout of upsetting the apple cart with Kameko....

The market knows a thing or two. Never doubt it. Collective wisdom is almost always that bit more accurate and reliable than individual wisdom....

And if you want to play it safe and be on the most likely winner tomorrow – then the best thing to do is to follow the market in....

That’s exactly what a lot of tipsters and punters will do tomorrow. For most it will be Pinatubo. If not him, then Arizona or Kameko – serving to harden the forecast trends that took root in the ante-post market earlier this week....

  • A lion – not a sheep....

Here at ATC, I play a different game....

Call me mad. Call me eccentric. Call me what you want – but I don’t concern myself with looking for race winners....

If it was just about finding winners, I’d focus all my efforts and resources on sorting the good odds-on favourites from the bad every single day of the week – and seek to hit an overall strike rate in excess of 50%....

I’d bet my selections big and look to pull a long way ahead over a long period of time.... 

But that game doesn’t appeal to my instincts or my temperament. It doesn’t play to my strengths. And taking small steps back and forth in terms of wins, losses, strike rate and bottom-line return on investment would quickly start to feel like pulling teeth....

Where’s the romance in all that? Where’s the buzz? Where’s the big hit? Where are the prices? How am I supposed to get my blood a-pumping and a-thumping if I’m playing the game safe and steady like some old school-teacher?

Look, I’m Aries – not Capricorn or Pisces. I’m ruled by warlike Mars – not gentle and harmonious Venus. I play to win. I go nowhere to make up the numbers. I’m no particular fan of Benito Mussolini, but I definitely concur with his edict: ‘It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep....’

  • My game goes like this.... 

Let the sheep look for winners. Let the sheep back the most likely types. Let that bunch of pack animals take their chances playing the short prices....

That’s their religion – not mine. This jungle lion does something different....

I might end up looking more like Lenny the Lion than the King of the Beasts when most races are run, but the way I do it I’m going to be well-rewarded on those occasions I get it right....

I never follow the market in. Instead, I take my chances on what I think the market has got wrong. I don’t look for winners. I look for ‘live’ horses trading at wrong prices. That’s my contrarian game....

If I identify market errors frequently enough – and back sufficient horses at value prices – then the winners will take care of themselves. That’s the strategy across any given season....

And over the long-term the intention is to  get a few winners into the book at big prices and to pull well-ahead ahead of the fav-backers and the sheep that can’t get past the short prices on the bottom line....

  • That’s the theory....

That’s the theory. Now it’s time for the practice....

We’re a month later than usual with the 2000 Guineas. Nobody’s got a prep run into their horse. That’s an issue. It’s one of those unknown and unpredictable variables....

But it’s the same for each trainer and every horse. As punters, we can sit the race out. Or we can take a view. I’m taking a view – and, as always, I am happy to share for those of you in search of selections....

The short ones are the most likely. We’ve already covered that. And their individual credentials are out there for all to see – in race replays, in the form book and in the many column inches written about each major candidate since the end of last term....

Looking beyond those, the one that looks over-priced to me is Roger Teal’s KENZAI WARRIOR. At 25s he strikes me as a cracking each-way bet....

He comes out of a less fashionable yard than most of the others. In terms of breeding, his Japanese sire is probably the least well-known of all those with runners in the race....

I reckon he’s overpriced. He will want further than a mile down the road. And there’s always a temptation to go for the flashier and speedier types for the 2000 Guineas....

But make no mistake, the 2000 Guineas is a war for these young horses. You have to be tough and brave to win. The speedier types can get outstayed. And Teal’s horse brings that kind of game in a year where lack of a prep run might just undo some of the flashier types....

Something else the unbeaten Kenzai Warrior has going for him is a win on the Newmarket track. You can’t underestimate that experience. He knows what it’s like to hit the dip and he’s already proved he can handle it – and kick on from it....

I think the horse is a bigger player than the big price suggests. That’s the bottom line....

Nick’s contrarian picks….

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

In the 2000 Guineas (3.35 @ Newmarket).

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – KENZAI WARRIOR each-way (25s 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.

  • The final word….

That’s all from me for today....

I’ve had a look at the handicaps at Newmarket and I’m sitting them out.

I’m not a big believer in betting for the sake of it and in the races of most interest to me, I reckon the market has got the right horses where they should be in the betting....

In other words, there’s nothing in it for me at the prices. For example, I liked William Haggas’ Aplomb for the 1.15 at Newmarket – but I’m not bothered at 11/2 and am happy to let it run without my money at the price....

The summer is long and there will be plenty of other days. Sunday, for example....

I’ll back in your inbox tomorrow – with my take on the action at Newmarket on Sunday. Stay tuned....

All the best.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd