Successful punting is all about the price and Tony Calvin cannot have the favourite in Kempton's feature on Saturday afternoon - but he has found a double-figured alternative, plus another to back at big odds at Newcastle...
"Grandioso looks primed to run a very big race if his stamina holds out and is a decent win and place bet at the prices, especially as his record in chases on right-handed tracks reads 12112."
A striking feature of recent weekends has been the absence of Nicky Henderson runners in big races, and it is no surprise to see that Paul Nicholls is nearly £600,000 in front in the trainers' title prize money standings and heavy odds-on to regain his crown.
There was a story in the The Sun a few weeks back suggesting that there was an "issue" in the Seven Barrows yard, but that was promptly dismissed by the trainer, and there is no suggestion that the Henderson horses are under a cloud.
Granted, they haven't had many runners - Henderson puts that down to the fact most of his horses don't like soft ground - and have had a few horses run badly lately, but their strike rate remains pretty impressive, even if it has been bolstered by jumpers' bumper wins.
But it is slightly surprising, to say the least, to see that he has again no runners in the 100k Betbright Chase at Kempton tomorrow, whereas Nicholls has three.
Siding with favourites is not usually this column's bag - though I tip when the prices dictate and Merry King ended up as the 9-2 market leader and duly ran deplorably after we recommended him at 8-1 last week - but whatever way you slice it Nicholls' Bury Parade does hold strong claims in the 15:50 at Kempton.
A first-time hood appeared to banish the memories of his previous refusal to race at Exeter, and the manner of his five length win at Ascot probably merited a 9lb rise in the weights. And I think there could be more to come from him as he steps up to 3m for the first time.
I simply can't put anyone off him, but the problem is the price. And that should always be the deciding factor about whether you back a horse. There is a price at which even a horse that you fancy should be laid.
I am not suggesting for one minute that Bury Parade is lay material at around 9-2, not least because effectively backing a horse not to win at 2-9 is hardly my cup of tea.
But Bury Parade was 12-1 this time last week - and I appreciate horses such as Henderson's pair of Hadrian's Approach and Rajdhani Express have come out in the meantime - and now we are being asked to take around a third of those odds to get with him.
And, regardless of what I have said above, the fact is that he did refuse to race just two starts ago, the handicapper has hit him pretty hard for his impressive win last time and he does have his stamina to prove. And he is not the biggest to be lugging 11st 12lb round here.
So I can let him go unbacked, even if you may not.
I am, though, going to punt the horse he beat last time, stablemate Grandioso, at odds of 10.09/1 or better.
Bury Parade put him in his place pretty readily at Ascot last time, but Grandioso is strictly weighted to reverse that form, being 9lb better off today.
The step up to 3m is an unknown but I think the combination of, hopefully, less testing ground than at Ascot and an easier, flatter, track will be in his favour - and he actually won the Pendil Chase on this card last season before a serious bout of colic curtailed a season that officially saw him improve 21lb.
He looked like a winner waiting to happen with an eye-catching reappearance third at Newbury - he cruised through the race before getting tired -and he was apparently unsuited by Cheltenham and the left-handed track next time.
He looks primed to run a very big race if his stamina holds out and is a decent win and place bet at the prices, especially as his record in chases on right-handed tracks reads 12112.
Of the other bigger-priced horses you have to respect Venetia Williams' Niceonefrankie at 16-1+, but Grandioso is the sole selection.
Nicholls may be out of the luck earlier in the card though, as I strongly fancy Activial to put himself in the Triumph picture by beating the Wylie pair of Solar Impulse and Alcala in the Dovecote.
He may have better luck with the unbeaten Irving in the Adonis, but that is not my kind of bet.
Over at Newcastle, I think Mojolika has a decent chance stepped back down to 2m in the 14:20, but for my only bet at the track I am siding with Our Island in the Eider Chase at 14:55, at odds of 8.07/1 or better. I was hoping that he would be a bit bigger but 7-1+ is fair, as he has a lot going for him.
He may be 2lb out of the handicap but more important here will be the ability to stay in the heavy ground over this marathon trip, and Our Island fits the bill on that score.
He finished a fair fifth in last season's Welsh National, and has slipped down the weights to a very tempting mark, particularly as he shaped really well when fourth over an extended 3m2f at Cheltenham on New Year's Day.
Lingfield also gets an airing on Channel 4 and while I won't put up a selection, I think Ladies Are Forever will go well in the 13:45.
She is a solid listed/Group 3 performer who goes well here and when fresh, and it is interesting that the first-time cheekpieces replace the blinkers today. Presumably she has worked well in them at home.
And if you are playing in the 15:30, I think Tinshu could well outrun his odds. He is likely to be one of the outsiders here but he is a consistent 95-rated handicapper well suited by track and trip, and he could just spring a surprise in a tricky race to call.
Back Our Island @ 8.07/1 or better in the 14:55 at Newcastle
Back Grandioso @ 10.09/1 or better in the 15:50 at Kempton