Thursday 13 December 2018

Un De Sceaux can touch down for Ryanair repeat

Betting ring

Gordon Elliott with Jack Kennedy after winning the Juvenile Handicap Hurdle on Veneer of Charm at Cheltenham yesterday. Photo: Tim Goode/PA Wire
Gordon Elliott with Jack Kennedy after winning the Juvenile Handicap Hurdle on Veneer of Charm at Cheltenham yesterday. Photo: Tim Goode/PA Wire
Wayne Bailey

Wayne Bailey

In 1968, an experiment was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology with the rather complicated title 'Postdecision dissonance at post time'.

I won't bore you with too much details, but it involved asking horse racing bettors at the racecourse to rate the chance of the horse they picked. Half the people surveyed were asked to rate the horse's chances just before they placed their bet, the other half were asked to rate its chances just after they placed their bet.

The findings were that those who had already committed their money to the bet rated their horse's chance of winning a good deal higher than those yet to put the money down.

In other words, once the chips are down, we are no longer as rational or impartial when looking at a race and this can lead to us discounting new pieces of information which would otherwise influence our view. If we have an investment in something, it's harder to change our mind.

But even if you don't have the money down, it's still a right killer when you pick a horse, then change your mind and the original horse wins. So, I hope I'm not left kicking myself today after the Grade Two Dawn Run Mares' Novice (4.50), having originally picked out Maria's Benefit around 6/1.

The Stuart Edmunds-trained six-year-old has now won five in a row including a Grade Two at Doncaster last time, but as the race approaches, I've become lukewarm about her chances and I'm switching my bet to the Willie Mullins-trained Laurina, which is admittedly an unoriginal choice at a price around 8/13. Those are very short odds so it will be costly if she loses - but Paul Townend barely had to move a muscle when she won a Grade Three on her second run for Mullins last time, and this French import is going to be very hard to beat if maintaining that level of form.

That was her second win on heavy ground and with the going possibly on the heavier side of soft today, it's an extra vote of confidence over her rival which has only raced on soft or better. That's not to say Maria's Benefit won't handle the conditions on her first attempt, and this could end up being one of the battles of the day.

For something at a better price, consider backing Terrefort in the opening Grade One JLT Novices' Chase which should go off in the region of 4/1. Another French import, Nicky Henderson's charge has won twice in Britain and I was particularly happy with the five-year-old in February, having backed him to win the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase at Sandown, in which he defeated Cyrname by a neck.

In the Ryanair Chase (2.50), Un De Sceaux is tipped to retain his crown and he looks set to go off around even-money. He was beaten at 10/11 following this race at Punchestown last season, but he got back on track in December with a Grade Two win at Cork. He later showed how versatile he is by winning the Clarence House Chase at Ascot last time out by seven lengths in January in very testing conditions, although no less than a win was expected at a price of 4/9.

The news that Ruby Walsh picked up another injury yesterday shows how tough this game is on the jockeys who put their bodies on the line every day. It's heartbreaking for Walsh to miss rides like Un De Sceaux and we all wish him a speedy recovery.

I'm surprised but pleased to say the biggest threat to the bet could come from 12-year-old Cue Card. I've been opposing him lately due to his age, but he's managed to finish second in two Grade Ones this year. It's unlikely to happen, but no-one would begrudge him one final big career win.

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