If you run with the herd you will have many friends, but pale into insignificance, but if like me you like to occasionally, well actually regularly, stray off the beaten betting track then you will be rewarded for your adventure.
That will always be the way I play the game and although subjective value can sometimes lead to criticism – I am happy to take that on the chin to hit the bullseye with double-figure priced rewards every so often.
This weekend’s Dublin Racing Festival is a huge point in question with several pre-Festival stand points about to be resolved and other ante-post waters muddied further.
Take the Champion Chase at Cheltenham for example. Is Chacun Pur Soi really the monster we are all led to believe? Can A Plus Tard (APT) possibly be as good over the minimum trip as further or will CILAOS EMERY take another step forward in his progressive chasing profile?
I am not so sure that the first named was revved up for his return in the Paddy’s Rewards Club “Loyalty’s dead Live For Rewards” Chase last month, when readily beaten by APT, who should confirm that form in the Dublin Chase on Saturday at 13.25.
However, both will be trumped by the Luke McMahon-owned speedster, available at 4/1 at time of writing for this Grade One contest and 9/1 for the Champion Chase with Paddy Power.
An emphatic win here in such a high-calibre field would see him half in price for Cheltenham and such a move is well worth anticipating.
The son of Califet doesn’t like to be crowded, tends to make a mistake when in the middle of the pack, but when given daylight his jumping is both slick and decisive. He also travels supremely well through his races and I can see him being kept wide down the long back stretch before joining battle between the second last and final obstacles.
The novice speed division is even more wide open and like A Plus Tard in the ‘seniors’ section there has been plenty of debate about FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES in the novice championships.
I have come to the same decision about both. A Plus Tard, especially on spring ground, needs the extra half mile and Fakir D’oudaIries positively craves it.
Having secured 20/1 about him for the Marsh Novices Chase, I am hoping he gets outpaced in the Arkle Novices Chase on Saturday at 14.00 and then stays on strongly up the punishing final climb.
To my eyes he is more of a stayer than a speed horse.
This view was confirmed by his run in last year’s Triumph Hurdle and then cemented by his closing second behind Notebook in the Racing Post Novice Chase over course and distance last December.
The hope I have for this renewal is that Mark Walsh and FD try to drag the finish out of the Henry De Bromhead youngster this time around by putting him to the sword from some way out and utilising his superb jumping technique.
If ridden in a positive fashion, he will be king of the two mile novices, but hopefully just for a day!
With her 6lbs mares’ allowance Honeysuckle and Ms Blackmore will surely try and pull the speed kick out of her rivals in the 2m Grade One Irish Champion Hurdle at 15.10.
You can understand why she is the 11/8 jolly with PP and time of writing, but everything has fallen into her lap in her races to date and quite simply the poser to consider is what has she beaten?
This is the ultimate test to decide if she is indeed a real Champion Hurdle contender and despite my observations, I still think that the mare is the most obvious winner of this famous race.
However, with a strong pace almost certain up top from Honeysuckle and several pressers in the field, this looks like being a severe test at the minimum trip which will serve both Klassical Dream and Sharjah well.
Backing the Supreme winner again is like trying to forgive your other half for cheating on you twice and giving her a third chance, but if there is ever the case in such a scenario then this is it with several mitigating circumstances.
But sometimes in this punting life running with the herd does make sense and SHARJAH has to be the call He will relish this quicker ground, has done nothing wrong this season and is at the top of his form………what is there not to like?
The Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup on Sunday 15.30 looks wide open and I expect last year’s winner Bellshill to close the gap on his stablemate Kemboy, after they finished fourth and seventh in the Savills Chase.
With only four lengths separating the first four home, Delta Work is too short and is no certainty to get home if they go a real gallop this time around.
In the circumstances, the play is an each-way investment on LA BAGUE AU ROI at 20/1 in Paddy’s ante-post list, another set to be suited by this better ground and too big at a double-figure price. A course winner here last season in the 2m 5f Flogas Novice Chase, Mark Walsh takes over from Richard Johnson in the saddle.
But my most interesting wager of the weekend comes in the 3m William Fry Handicap Hurdle on Sunday at 14.30.
Gambles galore have come and gone in this contest down through they years and I anticipate a huge run from SWORDSMAN at 20/1 ante-post – IF trainer Gordon Elliot let’s him take his chance.
Going right-handed has simply been a no-no for this six-year-old whether it be over fences or timber which can explain nearly half of his defeats to date. I was at Fairyhouse when he won his maiden hurdle last year, despite going the wrong way around, and everything that day and since strongly suggests he wants both a trip and to go left-handed.
If he gets in to this event, a mark of 130 hugely underplays his latent talent and I shall be pushing out the punting boat with no life vest needed!