Three Saturday bets
The market has ignored Miller, so bank on him to win
An old favourite to make AW debut a winning one
There's plenty to get stuck into today, including in the opening two races at Aintree, the 12:25 and the 13:00, where I expect both favourites to go in. I was hoping the market would miss the performance that Josh The Boss put in at Warwick, where he clocked a very useful time figure that sees him worthy of a rating in the mid-120s.
That's enough to win this contest unless the market vibes are strong about the £350,000 purchase of Flash In The Park. Still, he has been well found and sticking to backing horses at the correct price has seemingly saved me a small fortune in recent weeks.
The same applies to Giovinco, who should take a world of beating in the second race at the Liverpool venue.
It was extremely frustrating last night with market moves on the Betfair Sportsbook. Although much of it was market correction rather than "gambles", it was too much to keep up with when attempting to file this column.
At 13:35 at Aintree, I strongly fancy Imperial Merlin 3/14.00, but I wanted an each-way price about him on this seasonal return, and his 5/16.00 went into 3/14.00 before I could blink. So, although I think he is the most likely winner, with the case very strong for him, I had to walk away reluctantly. There's money for Gentleman At Arms 20/121.00 into 17/29.50, my second choice in the race with the re-fitted cheek-pieces. But again, the market ran away from me.
In the 14:10 at Aintree, Master Chewy 13/82.63 was electric 13 days ago, and I wanted him on side. However, there is a concern over Nigel Twiston-Davies' horses when running the second time out this season, and the ground is more testing this time. While I have little doubt he will be a 140-plus horse - the price meant I could only watch having hoped for 3/14.00.
My favoured Wincanton races today, with the 14:25 Badger Beer the highlight. Threeunderthrufive tempted me on Thursday when recording the podcast, but not at his current 11/43.75. The race is too deep to take that price, and he would only be of interest to me if it were around the 7/24.50 or 4/15.00 mark.
Understandably, my writing the above is frustrating. I expect you just want me to write out winners in this column rather than being too price-sensitive, but that's not how I bet, so I must keep it authentic, and the bigger punts are worth waiting for.
Albasheer - 6/17.00 on the Betfair Sportsbook - has given us the runaround this season, but this looks far easier on balance than his last two assignments whilst recognising the presence of the classy Sense Of Duty, who could yet fulfil the potential she showed at this venue last season.
Still, the William Haggas filly now has a little to prove and is priced accordingly. In turn, there's a good argument to suggest Archie Watson's five-year-old is overpriced on his four previous efforts this term, three of which have come on an unsuitable surface, and the move to the AW could easily spark the further improvement he has promised.
His Dam was Listed placed on the AW, while his Sire Shamadal has a healthy 17% strike rate. He hit the front too soon at York, but the ground was entirely against him.
His draw in stall two isn't a concern, considering he will be dropped in from off the pace, and this is a welcome rest bite from the hustle and bustle of a big field handicap.
It would be a surprise if he were not at least able to hit the frame today. Juan Les Pins left the impression at Kempton that he may have had enough for the season, while Brad The Brief is not the horse he once was. Dropping in trip with Tacarib Bay looks strange, and it's hard to consider any of those at larger prices.
He will need Sense Of Duty to underperform, given the figures say she should be winning this, and she rates the biggest danger, but there are small doubts.
Any 6/17.00 or bigger is acceptable for an each-way play but NO shorter.
The market has this between West Balboa and Brewin'upastorm, but it has been dangerous to ignore the claims of Millers Bank - 16/54.20 on the Betfair Sportsbook.
He has a little to prove after things didn't go his way over fences last term. Still, he has an excellent record fresh and is six pounds better off with Brewin'upastorm for beating him here over course and distance in the Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle two years ago on his last start over the smaller obstacles.
Millers Bank comes out on top on weight-adjusted ratings and has an excellent career record in small field events with eight or fewer runners reading 5221211122, including a Grade 1 Novice Chase here at Aintree.
Interestingly, he is entered in a Pertemps Qualifier on Monday, but he is better off at the weights in this small field contest and racing for double the money.
West Balboa arrived having won well in a handicap here off 135 some 210 days ago, but there's little doubt either of the pair here would have won the same race off the same mark, so she looks short enough, almost touching even money when she has to improve to win this.
Brewin'upastorm has an excellent record in small field events, but he has looked to be slowing down at ten, so the value play is the outsider of the three at 3/14.00 or bigger.
Teumessias Fox - currently 6/17.00 on the Betfair Sportsbook - can't get any shorter in a competitive handicap of this nature, one hopes, so the advice is to let him take a small drift in the betting.
Still, the case for him is robust. He may have won at the Racing League meeting at Windsor off of a rating of 102 but for a continuously denied passage. That race has worked out well. The winner is ten pounds higher while the second and the third are 15 pounds higher in the handicap, having all grabbed Listed or Group honours next time out.
Today's return from a break is by design, considering his record when running off an absence has seen him bolt up at Kempton and Newmarket, including off of a rating of 97 in recent starts.
The best of his form entitled him to plenty of respect returned to this Newcastle venue, where he won easily by eight lengths in a Novice contest. In the same season, he was a big eye-catcher at Royal Ascot when denied a clear run, finishing beaten two lengths behind Secret State (110), Deauville Legend (113) and Israr (115).
At the same time, he followed up next time when only narrowly denied by a recent Melbourne Cup runner-up and subsequent Ebor winner at the time in Soulcombe.
On his day and at the best of his form, he can easily be thought of as a Group horse, and he is 2-4 on the AW with the two defeats on his first two racecourse starts in Novice company, while Callumn Hutchinson claims three off his back and along with a 1lb drop by the handicapper, races off 98.
He is surely the form horse in this race and should take a lot of stopping with plenty of boxes ticked now, returning to his optimum trip. His draw in stall nine is not harmful, considering higher draws at Newcastle over distances of 14f to 16f have a higher ROI and win percentage.
He makes plenty of appeals even at his current 5/16.00, but the play is to hold off and wait, given he is as big as 13/27.50 elsewhere.