It's finally here; the people's race. As anticipation levels reach fever pitch over the next few hours money will be flying around in all directions, with the exchange saturated with ill-informed money from once a year punters. Who's your favourite jockey? Can another 'red' lift Liverpool's most famous trophy? What does your Granny fancy? For Follow The Money devotees, however, the task remains the same as ever.
We get the day underway with a place lay recommendation in the 13:45. Barney Dwan has been a model of consistency all season, and reached a new high with a second placing in the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival. However, he has been pushed up 5lbs in the ratings by the handicapper, which means he has now been raised a total of 18lbs in defeat since his last successful visit to a racecourse. He has drifted from [8.40] to [11.0] in the win market. The extra burden suggests a place lay at [3.0] could be a worthwhile play.
For our back selection we look at the Liverpool Hurdle at 16:20. It looks a competitive heat on paper, with those at the head of the market drifting. An each-way punt is developing on Irish raider Snow Falcon, who has shortened from [15.0] into [10.0]. Although ultimately well beaten in the Stayers Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last month, he actually traded at almost a quarter of his BSP just before the turn for home. In other words, he travelled well and didn't get up the hill. Faced with a slightly easier test this afternoon, he looks sure to give his running and looks worth backing in the place market at [3.0].
Now for the big race itself. Interestingly, of the last five winners, four have had BSP's between 33 and 44, and never touched an in running high bigger than 50. Obviously stamina is a pre-requisite and this small sample of data indicates that ideally you want something good enough to sit handy or in the middle of the pack.
Using such statistics as a guide could of course prove folly, but does suggest that we can take a punt on a relatively big price without the feeling that we are simply buying a lottery ticket. There have been lots of movers so far this morning, notably One For Arthur who touched [23.0] but has now settled around the [20.0] mark and Ucello Conti who has moved from [29.0] into [25.0]. Of even greater significance is the money for Definitly Red from [16.0] into [13.50] and he now looks highly likely to start favourite.
However, the front end of the market has been beset by day of the race drifters, presumably as layers all battle to get their money matched. Vieux Lion Rouge has shifted from [13.50] out to [17.0], Cause Of Causes from [17.0] to [23.0], whilst More Of That has been a stark drifter, out from [14.0] to [20.0].
An eye catching market mover at bigger odds has been Thunder And Roses. The former Irish Grand National winner has sprung back to life this season, and will surely be suited by this extreme test. He might ideally prefer softer ground, but certainly handles quicker conditions. A market move from [65.0] into [36.0] certainly suggests that he is primed for a big effort, representing last year's victorious owner and trainer.
But the one we will give the nod to is the Paul Nicholls trained Vicente. He won the Scottish National last year, to prove he has the abundant stamina needed for this race, and is very much a spring ground type of horse. He has been fairly quiet this season, but showed he retains a good deal of ability when running well for a long way in the Welsh National on completely unsuitable going. His unattractive form figures this season have allowed his mark to reduce, so much so that he only races from a pound higher than when winning the Scottish National. He has moved in the betting from a high of [32.0] to a current [25.0]. He looks a lively each-way player.
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Follow The Money P&L for February
Points Staked: 84
Points Returned: 106
P/L: +22 pts