Take a chance on maturing chaser 'Gardes'
Back in 1492, the Fitzgeralds of Kildare and the Butlers of Ormonde were involved in a bitter dispute over which family would have the position of Lord Deputy.
The fighting began to get out of control, and the Butlers arrived at St Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin to seek refuge. The Fitzgeralds camped outside waiting for them, but eventually, they realised making peace was the sensible option and offered the hand of friendship.
The Butlers were suspicious and refused to come out, so, as a gesture, Gerald Fitzgerald suggested a hole be cut in the door and he would 'chance his arm' by sticking it through and offering a handshake. That's exactly what happened, so the feud came to an end, and the Door of Reconciliation is, in fact, still there to this day.
Earlier this month, I backed the Seamus Mullins-trained Norphin in a handicap chase at Fontwell, and a mate of mine told me I was simply 'chancing my arm', as he was the outsider in a four-horse race.
When he duly obliged at 20/1, I wished I had a lot more than a tenner each-way staked, but that's the nature of this business and those big ones don't come along too often.
I'd put a bit of work into the race, so it would be wrong to suggest I was simply taking a chance on a mindless whim with the bet, and the stats actually show such horses are worth considering on occasion.
Norphin is not the most talented horse, but the rest weren't either and it looked quite open.
While the outsider of the group in four-horse handicap chases have a low win-rate at 12pc when compared to the favourite at 41pc, the return on investment (average expected profit or loss per euro staked) is marginally better on the outsider - although it must be stressed that both are unprofitable blindly backed at SP.
It's a different story on the exchanges though - since 2008, you would have made a profit of 29pts to Betfair SP backing the outsider in four-horse handicap chases, compared to a loss of 60pts on the favourite.
I'm certainly not suggesting you blindly back them, and you have to do some research to make sure the horse has a hope. But it's food for thought, and I reckon I've spotted another value one today, with A Vos Gardes in the Betfred TV Limited Novices' Limited Handicap Chase (3.35 Newbury).
Yesterday, he had a forecast price of 8/1 in some places, but I think that's way out, and I suspect he'll go off at around half that price. We'll have to wait and see if that still makes him the outsider of the bunch, but it's a good price regardless and market support is, of course, no bad thing if you are on early enough.
Hurdle form doesn't always transfer to fences, but he was a talented sort over timber and I'm not too concerned that he was second of two runners on his chase debut in a novice at Wetherby earlier this month. He was facing a really promising rival, Ami Desbois, which was priced 2/9, and it was also his first run in 22 months.
There's a lot of guesswork involved in this bet but Charlie Longsdon has said that the year off has done no harm at all and has helped him mature, stating, "he is a bigger horse and there is more about him".
Rated 124 for a racing weight of 10st 6lbs, he might just be a few pounds ahead of the handicapper.
We've Grade One action at the same venue with the Betfred Challow Novices' Hurdle (3.0) and I'm quite keen on Fergal O'Brien's Poetic Rhythm, which should go off in the region of 11/4. He raced quite a bit at the Cheltenham course last season, winning a Listed bumper there, but he's improving over hurdles all the time, albeit with a few jumping mistakes thrown into the mix.
He got off to the best possible start this season by winning the Grade Two Persian War Novices' Hurdle at Chepstow, and certainly wasn't disgraced when third to On The Blind in a competitive Grade Two novice hurdle back at Cheltenham last month.
Rated 71, Michael Attwater's Top Beak sits at the bottom of the weights for the Betway Casino Handicap at Lingfield (2.55), and looks a decent each-way bet in the region of 8/1.
Over a year ago, he was rated 20lbs higher but his mark has fallen steadily following a number of below-par performances. But you get the feeling it's bottomed out, and his fourth place of 15 off this rating in a handicap here over this distance looks worse on paper than it was in reality, as he found himself in an impossible position.
12.25 Haydock: Jonniesofa
1.0 Haydock: Waterlord
2.10 Haydock: Gold Opera
2.55 Lingfield: Top Beak (e/w)
3.0 Newbury: Poetic Rhythm
3.15 Taunton: Maria's Benefit
3.35 Newbury: A Vos Gardes
Do the double
Racing: Trainer Rose Dobbin will have been delighted with Jonniesofa’s chasing debut in October following a 20-month break due to injury. He found plenty on heavy ground, jumped really well and landed the prize at 11/4. He looks a good stayer and will appreciate the step up in trip today for the Bet At racinguk.com Novices’ Chase (12.25 Haydock). Early odds of 11/8 seem generous.
Soccer: West Brom’s change of manager from Tony Pulis to Alan Pardew hasn’t yet reaped rewards in six games. It’s been a tough time to be a Baggies fan with the last win as far back as August over Accrington Stanley in the League Cup, and it’s no surprise to see them even-money for relegation. Their bad luck can continue when Arsenal, who beat Palace on Thursday, come to town. The 3/4 about a Gunners win is a fair price in what will be the last league game of the year.