Riders with the knack for a unique challenge....

Last Updated: 04.12.2018

Tuesday, 4th December 2018

Riders with the knack for a unique challenge….

Idiosyncratic races – with unique features – are always of interest....

Such races offer singular (or at least infrequent) opportunities to approach the search for value from angles that wouldn’t apply or even be relevant to more conventional contests....

We get a couple of such races this weekend at Aintree....

Only five races are run each year over the Grand National fences. Two of them – the Becher Chase and the Grand Sefton will be run on Saturday afternoon....

The wider market tends to treat one race very much like another. The pre-race spadework and the methods of selection never changes. Most punters will simply approach Saturday’s races as they would races contested over orthodox fences....

Fair enough. Each to his own. But focusing on the unique aspect of Saturday’s races – those unusual big fences – enables you to look at the race (and the prices) from a perspective your opponents in the market are lacking or overlooking….

And that’s an edge worth securing....

  • A track for specialists….

The Grand National course and its idiosyncratic fences present horses with a unique challenge….

There is no other course – and no other jumping challenge – quite like it in British racing. Or anywhere else for that matter….

Some horses love the place. They thrive on the peculiar challenge. Time and again they return to the Grand National track and put in quality performances….

A few years ago, there was a horse trained by Peter Bowen called Always Waining. He absolutely loved the Grand National fences….

Over a 5-year period stretching from 2009 to 2013 he appeared in races run over the Grand National fences a total of 8 times….

He appeared in the Topham Chase four times – winning on 3 occasions....

He appeared in two editions of the Grand Sefton – falling once and finishing 6th the next time....

He appeared in a Becher Chase – finishing 4th....

And he got around on the one occasion he stepped up in trip and appeared in a Grand National….

With form figures over the fences reading 4F161410, Always Waining was clearly something of a course specialist. He took to the place. He took to the fences. Aintree and the Grand National course brought out the best in him….

That’s how it works for some horses....

  • The top man over the National fences….

And that’s how it is for some of the jockeys too....

Let’s not forget that it isn’t just the horse that goes around the course and over the fences. The jockey does too….

And some of the jockeys – like some of the horses – have demonstrated a liking for or a knack of effectively handling the specific challenge of the Grand National fences….

Take Barry Geraghty, for example....

His last 27 rides in races run over the Grand National fences – the Topham, the Becher, the Grand Sefton and the Grand National itself – have produced 4 winners and 6 placed finishers….

That’s a place strike-rate of 37% over the most severe fences in racing – a figure that serves to underline Geraghty’s mastery of the fences and his ability to get horses to perform over them….

Two additional 5th placed finishes and a 6th and 7th place finish in fields of 40 and 30 provide additional ballast to the argument that he’s right up there when it comes to getting tune out of a chaser over the Aintree spruce….

Had you backed all his last 25 rides over the fences £10 each-way you’d now be sitting on a profit of £595.00 to SPs. Early prices and Enhanced Place Terms (often available on these big Aintree races) would have improved on that....

Clearly Barry Geraghty is a rider to have onside over the Grand National fences. Whatever he rides in Saturday’s races carries advantage on its back and is worthy of close consideration….

In case you missed it....

What is it that motivates trainers to run their horses?

A recent survey conducted by the Racecourse Association was designed to find answers to that question….

You might think it would be all about the prize money on offer. But most of the time that turns out not to be the case. Trainers are motivated by something else when it comes to making entries….

You can find out more here….

  • As good as the professionals….

Another rider to note is the amateur, Mr Sam Whaley-Cohen….

He may not be a paid-up member of the professional ranks, but he is certainly a sound-enough horseman to compete on level terms….

Indeed, over the Grand National fences you might make the case that he is a good deal better than some of his professional counterparts….

His last 20 rides over the idiosyncratic obstacles produced 5 winners and 5 placed finishes….

That’s a place strike rate of 50%. And two more rides produced 5th and 6th place finishes…. Whaley-Cohen has only failed to finish 5 times in those twenty rides….

And he’s done it at prices. if you’d backed all Whaley-Cohen’s last 18 qualifying runners £10 each-way, you’d now be sitting on a profit of £812.00 to SPs….

Whaley-Cohen clearly an advantage to both horse and punter over the Grand National fences. If he’d down to ride the fences on Saturday, don’t dismiss him as just another amateur up against the big boys. Over these fences Whaley-Cohen is one of the big boys....

Crowd Report....

One thing you will never catch us doing on ATC is backing favourites….

Our default approach is to ALWAYS take the favourites on. Without exception. And for good reason. You can’t make money long-term by backing favourites….

Our stance is based on solid evidence provided by more than 150,000 races run in Britain across the last two decades – and the numbers don’t tell lies…. 

We don’t envisage that long-term trend changing direction. But we keep an eye on it – on a weekly basis.

And, starting this week, we’ll be reporting the latest performance figures produced by outright favourites (and the punters who back them) in Crowd Report on the ATC website….

We update every Monday morning – reporting the data for the previous 7-day period. Our first Crowd Report is online now….

Crowd Report won’t help you find winners. But there comes a point when the tide turns and backing favourites IS the right way to play the game, you’ll be the first to know….

  • Consistently bucking market expectation….

The other rider I’d draw attention to is Daryl Jacob....

His last 27rides over the National fences have yielded just two outright winners….

But an additional 7 placed finishes and three more horses finishing 6th or 7th (in what are inevitably big-field affairs) testify to a rider with a skillset that fits well with this specific challenge….

What’s more, a winner at 33s and placers at prices as big as 40s and 100s serve to illustrate that his mounts can buck market expectation….

He’s been a good man to have in the saddle – for horse and punter – round the Grand National track….

  • The last word….

No riding arrangements for Saturday have been finalized at this stage. But those three names are worth looking out for as and when they are….

I wouldn’t bet them blind. But I do consider each of them an advantage in the saddle on Saturday and I would be inspecting their mounts with interest....

That’s all from me for today.

I’ll be back with more tomorrow....

Until then. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd