With not a great deal to look forward to this weekend I thought I would try my hand at a midweek Class 3 affair at Haydock, to compensate. Finding value is what I am all about and I have nominated the 3.50 Trust Inns Publican Handicap as the race to try and attain my rewards.
One of my biggest rules in betting is to try and pinpoint a seemingly dodgy favourite and in the form of Ittirad we may possibly have one. Trained by Roger Varian, this horse will be reappearing on track some 49 days after disappointing in heavy ground at Epsom. Obviously well regarded by his trainer he has yet to prove himself and it was readily noticed how well he was backed in the market before his seasonal debut, only to disappoint once again. Accusations by the race reporter that day insinuating that he may possibly have needed the run, does not quite follow logic as he had won on his debut the previous season and with market support was expected to flourish in that race.
Five times so far in the career of Ittirad has he started a race at odds of 11-2 or shorter and lost. His only victory coming in a desperate maiden affair in which he was 1-3f and running against animals that could hardly be described as thoroughbreds.
I am not saying he cannot win on his second appearance, but with 49 days off the course and his odds seemingly cramped - HE SIMPLY IS NOT VALUE!
The other horse vying for favouritism is the Mark Johnston trained Tmaam and I have a bit more respect for this one, but far less than is adequate to consider him to be a wise investment. He has only had four starts and apparently suffers from foot problems. His owner wanted to retire him, but Mark Johnston persuaded him to keep him in training as he felt he could be quite decent. Due to his problems he could be vulnerable on his comeback, but should prefer this softer going, given the fact that he has issues with his feet.
All in all he is more difficult to resist than the Roger Varian trained entrant, but with a likely fitness disadvantage and these other concerns combined, he makes little appeal at the requested 4-1 odds.
Not far behind in the betting is the John Holt trained Number Theory at 11-2 and the first question I had to ask myself was who is John Holt? Many of you will already know by now, that I never look at racing below a Class 2 level and this trainer has no horses in his stable capable at that level, so in turn I have therefore never heard of him. He does however have to be mentioned here as his entrant is the probable third favourite in the race.
However a look at the form would suggest his runaway victory over C&D has already incorporated a probable plunge on the selection and his odds are stingey. He won a Class 4 race when all said and done, against some low quality horses and has suffered a 10lb penalty as a result. The horse in second had only ever won off a mark of 68 and was running in the race off a mark that was some 10lb higher than he had ever won from before, which illustrates fully how weak an event it was.
Mika Mica has a 7lb claimer attached in Laura Barry to try and make a difference to his chances in the race. He has appeared this season in better form than ever but the trainers reliance on using a claiming jockey suggests he may not be as well handicapped as it looks. Bookmakers are not daft and has probably already incorporated any likely gambles into their 7-1 quotes and with a 3lb higher mark to contend with in an overall better class of race, I would not be too keen.
There are a couple of other runners that make no appeal who are stepping up in grade and of course a Brian Curley trained and owned topweight in Eye Of The Tiger. I normally try and avoid betting in any race he has a runner as he is too difficult to judge, and probably trust for that matter. This horse has run an abysmal race on his two starts this year after a whole 700 days off the track. As a result in typical Curley fashion the horse has been dropped from a mark of 112 to just 93. That is a 19lb reduction which means quite frankly, anything could happen. I just hope that this runner does not cost me a win, or even a place in this race by running closer to the form he was once capable of.
For my selection is the Mick Channon trained VERY GOOD DAY. He won his maiden over C&D two seasons ago and that remains his only victory to this day. However he has been a difficult horse to get handicapped favourably due to an early career which involved him being Listed placed behind the ill-fated Rewilding. That propelled him to an original mark of 105 before two average performances in Group company had his sights lower to handicaps, for which he started life off as a 98 rated horse.
Now I have massive sympathy for any horse trained by Mick Channon who does not manage to prove himself at stakes level, because it can often mean his chances of winning in handicap company are also limited due to nothing being hidden from the assessor. As a result it has taken time and perseverance by connections to get him on a less demanding mark.
A return to a mark in the mid 80's has coincided with a return to form, as is often the case, and I believe that after two fairly useful performances in 0-105 rated company that the selection may run quite well in this lesser 0-95 race.
With two runs to get fully fit, he should have that advantage over a number of his rivals with the softer going holding no fears over his chances as well. It is also a positive that Mick Channon's number 1 stable jockey Martin Harley (a Classic winning rider may I remind you) is also put in place to ride for the very first time too.
Race fitness seemingly became an issue on his debut outing this season at Goodwood over 2f further as he traded at 1.47 on the exchanges inrunning, before his challenge laboured in the closing stages. Next time out he plodded on, in the better ground and never looked like winning over this distance at York, where he finished no further than a 1/2 length behind the eventual winner of the race.
In typical fashion, despite a very depleted looking record of success, I find the horse to still offer some potential, given the correct race. It could well be that this turns out to be a Very Good Day indeed.
Best of the rest may come from a horse I failed to mention in Purification, who has the blinkers attached for the very first time having been worried out of things at Windsor on his latest start. He may be disingenuous and is by no means great value, but his trainer John Gosden has a fair record at the venue and he may well make up the exacta if those prominent in the market flounder.
THE BET: VERY GOOD DAY @ (Not all bookmakers have odds available at the time of writing)
I stole the last of what Bet365 had to offer at 12-1 but there is still hope that those odds can be retrieved elsewhere when the market opens proper later this morning.