A big plunge reported - but don't take it too literally....

Last Updated: 23.09.2021

Thursday, 23rd September 2021

A big plunge reported - but don’t take it too literally….

There’s been a mighty move for Chichester in Saturday’s Cambridgeshire….

On Monday, Keith Dalgleish’s horse was a massive 66s. Now he’s 9s and second favourite….

What we’re supposed to infer from the price plunge is that the smart money has landed – with a resounding thud….

Either someone the bookies fear believes something the rest of the market didn’t believe on Monday – and expressed that belief in hard cash on Tuesday….

Or sheer weight of money – the accumulated stakes of a wider number of clued-up punters who didn’t want to miss the big prices – forced bookies to cut the price and keep on cutting….

  • On the plus side.... 

You can see why punters might take an interest in Chichester. He could well be the best-handicapped horse in the field….

At Ayr last week – on his 11th run for Dalgleish since switching from Sir Michael Stoute’s care – the 4yo took his form to a new level….

He won a good C2 handicap over 10f against decent horses by 6.5 lengths. It was a clear career top – improving on his next best effort by 10lbs on the RPR scale….

His mark is due to rise to 100. On Saturday he runs off 88 plus a 3lb penalty – an effective mark of 91…. 

In other words, he’s 9lb well in and better treated at the weights – at least on what we know right now – than any other runner. A big advantage….

And he’ll be ridden by Hollie Doyle. She’s ridden him before – when he was still with Stoute – on the AW. So the pair are not strangers….

And Doyle is a top rider. No doubt. She’s 2nd in the Jockeys championship; she handles big-race pressure with aplomb; and her booking is a definite positive….

  • On the downside.... 

But let’s not overlook the fact that this horse has been on the go since April – without a break that extends beyond 3-weeks….

Saturday’s race will be the 12th of his campaign. It will come just 9-days after the Ayr race….

It might be that Chichester thrives on his racing. He might get better the harder you work him. It’s possible. A tough schedule doesn’t necessarily preclude more success. But all horses have limits. All athletes require rest and recuperation….

I wonder if the Cambridgeshire was a genuine advance-plan. Or an afterthought. Of course, he was entered in the race a while back. But connections certainly took their time guaranteeing his place in the line-up….

Perhaps the Ayr win – and the manner of it – came out of the blue. And such was the performance they have to run on Saturday. The season the horse has had certainly doesn’t resemble one you’d expect for a horse that’s been genuinely ‘plotted up’ for a big handicap pot….

  • An ‘extra’ rather than the plan.... 

If there has been genuine ‘smart money’ for the horse, it certainly hasn’t come from the source you might reasonably expect….

Sir Ian Good owns the horse. He pays the bills. He hears from the trainer first-hand. He’s at the top of the information chain. You’d expect his money to be as smart – if not smarter – than anybody else’s….

So when he describes this week’s price plummet as ‘amazing’, I’d take that as a cue for caution – certainly at the current price….

Good goes on: ‘We entered him way back on the basis of seeing how he develops, but it was more in hope than expectation.’

And he said this: ‘I can assure you that [the win at Ayr] was a surprise to all concerned. We've always thought he was a very good horse and Keith has been very patient – I'd like to think we as owners have been patient too. Sometimes it just takes a bit of time.’

The horse has earned his place in Saturday’s field. For sure. But I just get the feeling from those comments that connections are rolling the dice because they can. I don’t think they really expected to be here….

The comments harden my belief that this run is an ‘extra’ – and why not? – rather than a plan brilliantly executed by the trainer….

I can’t fault them for turning up, taking their chances, and going for it. Who would? But I do wonder if the horse has had the right kind of prep for a race like this – where he will be up against plenty of horses that have had this specific race as a genuine target for some considerable time and who will have been prepared accordingly….

  • The final word….

Like I say, good luck to horse, connections and backers. The horse is an underdog whose thrust himself centre-stage and who has nothing to lose on Saturday….

If he can go to the well one more time and put in another big run then it could be his day. But I won’t be backing him. Not at the price….

The bookies are talking him up. Saying they wouldn’t be surprised if his price contracts further….

But that’s bookie talk. Suckering the market and drawing follow-the-crowd punters into bad bets is part of what they do….

And you should never take anything bookies say at face value. The price plunge this week implies that a lot of money has gone down on Chichester at the big prices….

If it has, then not much of it has been seen on Betfair – just £1,346 was matched on the horse ahead of the market being suspended this morning. It probably isn’t the big gamble the papers and the bookies are making out….

I wouldn’t be surprised if the horse drifts ahead of the off. Especially if the ground doesn’t firm up. Chichester looks to need good to firm. It’s currently good to soft at Newmarket….

That’s all for today. Back tomorrow. Meanwhile….

Anything to report? Anything to say? Anything to share? Contact me at: nick.pullen@oxonpress.co.uk

Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd