Wednesday 15 August 2018

Present Man can upset odds for rising star Frost

Willie Mullins’s Total Recall is sure to be warm in the betting and may well go off as favourite here. Photo credit: PA Wire
Willie Mullins’s Total Recall is sure to be warm in the betting and may well go off as favourite here. Photo credit: PA Wire

Wayne Bailey

At the time of writing, Nicky Henderson's Buveur D'Air is bouncing between 1/4 and 1/5 for the Grade One Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle (2.10), which is not surprising considering he's rated 15lbs clear of nearest rival Irving in today's five-runner field.

As well as being as a backer of horses, I also lay bets on the exchanges and the gut instinct when you see these short ones is to take them on.

But at the very skinny end of the market, it's not always worth it and watching a big race without a bet should never be seen as cowardly.

If you take horses priced 1/4 and below for example, you would lose money as a backer and a layer, due to commission.

As a rule, I've no problem betting odds-on but, unless you have a strong opinion either way or have reliable information, it can be a little pointless operating at the extremely short end of the market.

Dead certs

That's not to say so-called dead certs don't get beaten from time to time. It's early in the season, but amongst other short-priced losers we've already seen Yanworth beaten in an Exeter Novice Chase at 2/9, Knight Destroyer beaten in a Market Rasen Juvenile Hurdle at the same price, and Mega Fortune beaten at 1/7 in a minor event at Limerick.

To put the numbers into some sort of context, since 2008 there have been 813 National Hunt horses priced 1/4 or less and 688 have won (85pc). Of the 125 that lost, 27 fell or unseated their rider, which is actually less than I thought it might be.

This year's Fighting Fifth is definitely a no-bet race for me and, while there's always a chance of something dramatic, it is hard to see the Champion Hurdle winner fluffing his lines.

He had a short-lived chasing career and was successful on both starts, but the decision to go back over timber was a wise one with two Grade Ones added in 2017 to his growing list of victories.

The Cheltenham Festival is a long way off but he's currently 4/1 to defend his crown.

When asked about that prospect, Henderson played it down and is taking it one step at a time, beginning with this race which he's won three times since 2001, most recently with My Tent Or Yours in 2013.

That horse was originally an intended runner, but he won't like the soft ground so is going to get a racecourse gallop at Newbury tomorrow instead.

Irving is the only one that looks capable of making a contest out of it, but he's raced poorly three times since winning here last year.

Following 60 years of sponsorship which was the longest in British racing, it's going to be hard to get used to calling the Hennessy Gold Cup the Ladbrokes Trophy, a race won by the legendary Arkle twice in the 1960s.

It's never an easy one to figure out and this year is no different - but Paul Nicholls' Present Man makes appeal as an each-way bet at 16/1 or thereabouts.

Due to go up to 150 in the ratings, he carries a 4lb penalty for his latest success in the Badger Ales Trophy Chase at Wincanton, and that win came on the back of an earlier success in a novice hurdle, which helped shake off the cobwebs this season.

His jockey on those two occasions was conditional Bryony Frost, who is huge value for her 5lb claim and hopes to become the first female to win this race.

Frost is particularly worth following in chases with a win-rate of nearly one in five, and the 22-year-old is definitely going places.

Willie Mullins's Total Recall is sure to be warm in the betting and may well go off as favourite here. But he's up 18lbs in the ratings for his Munster National win which seems quite harsh.


The Nicky Henderson-trained Charli Parcs will be popular in the betting for the Ladbrokes Intermediate Hurdle (2.25 Newbury), having raced in a Grade One last time out.

He looked really smart when winning a Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton last year on King George day, and was going well when falling in a Grade Two there in February.

However, he seemed a little one-paced in his latest race, finishing sixth of 15, and he now may have questions to answer.

Besides, 7/2 in the early markets seems a bit short for a horse that hasn't been seen in 260 days, and preference is for Master Of Irony, available at 14/1.

With seven runners and two places, I'll admit it's not the greatest race for each-way betting but, rated 133, he gets in near the bottom of the weights and those odds seem a little off considering he won a competitive handicap at Wetherby off 4lbs lower.

A versatile sort, he often puts in good performances on the Flat and I reckon he has a great chance of a top-two finish under Davy Russell.

UK Selections

12.10 Newbury: Cap Soleil

12.45 Newbury: Black Corton

2.25 Newbury: Master Of Irony (e/w)

3.0 Newbury: Present Man (e/w)

5.45 Wolverhampton: Al Asef

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