Friday, 16th October 2020
It’s been a quiet week and it’s a quiet Saturday afternoon for big-field handicap punters. But there is one race that ticks the right boxes for me….
It’s the Balmoral Handicap at Ascot (4.15) – with a field of 20 going at it up the straight mile….
I’m doing my usual – taking a contrarian stance and digging out my idea of the best bets at value prices….
I know some of you like to follow me in – if or when I make a convincing enough case. I know some of you like to get me beat with your own selections. Good luck to you all – however you’re playing….
Here’s where my money is going tomorrow afternoon….
David O’Meara won the big sprint handicap at York last week and in ORBAAN he has another big candidate to land this week’s handicap feature….
The 5yo certainly starts in the right place in stall 20. Over the last 12 months it is the high-side numbers that have had the edge in the big-field mile races at Ascot – and he is surrounded by pace. That suits. He likes to come with a late run – and he’ll have plenty around him to tow him into the late stages….
His best performance to date came on ground with cut at York in July – when he beat a decent-sized field over the mile trip off a mark of 100. He’s had one go in a big field since – in an ultra-competitive handicap at York where he was mixing it with some decent in-form handicappers….
He can go in off his current mark when everything falls right. It’s unlikely we’ve seen the peak of him yet and if he’s going to improve tomorrow then the soft surface might play a part. Orbaan has always appreciated cut – he won a Listed race on good to soft in France when trained by Andre Fabre – and tomorrow’s ground could well see him improve on previous efforts this summer…..
At the general 16s available this morning, the O’Meara horse is up at a price he can outrun….
I want to be two-against-the-field in this one and ALTERNATIVE FACT is my second pick at the general 12s….
He was way too far back to do any real damage at York last weekend. He dwelt in the stalls and was still a fair way back behind the pace in the straight. But he did some good work late on – passing horses and finishing strong….
You can read too much into that. The horses he was beating on the run in were falling away. But he caught the eye against adversity, and he had a fair workout….
He’s turned around quickly by Ed Dunlop. That might be a problem, but he did have a decent break mid-season and he’s probably closer to the top of his game than planet of others in the race. It makes sense to strike while the iron is hot….
Frankie Dettori rides the horse for the first time since Royal Ascot when the pairing finished 3rd of 22 off 90 in the Silver Hunt Cup. They race off 97 tomorrow.
Redemption mission? Has this been the plan? Who knows? But the track suits and coming out of stall 16 is as good a place to start as any….
It was quick in June. The ground will be different tomorrow. But that’s no issue. This 5yo handles soft surfaces no problem. If he is indeed on a mission to avenge the close-call defeat at the Royal meeting in June, the ground won’t hamper him….
Nick’s contrarian picks….
To recap on where my idea of the value lies tomorrow afternoon….
In the Balmoral Handicap (4.15 @ Ascot).
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.
That’s all from me for today. I’ll be back next week. Meanwhile….
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Until next time. Stay tuned.