Our racing expert is trying his hand at Nottingham in search of some value.
Plenty of racing action on a far from quiet Tuesday including day one of the Punchestown Festival, where Yorkhill and Vautour look banker bets – albeit at odds-on.
We can watch them win at such prohibitive odds (4/7 & 2/5 respectively) and look elsewhere for something to back at a working man’s price. Let’s try Nottingham. It’s a track I like as it’s wide, galloping and doesn’t throw up too many hard luck stories, so the form tends to work out – well, that’s the theory.
Jane Chapple-Hyam’s AVENUE DES CHAMPS is certainly the form horse in the 1m6f handicap (due off 4.45pm) as he has won his last two starts on the all-weather in grand style – the latest by nearly four lengths from a decent sort over slightly shorter – and now returns to turf, on which he has won previously, off what looks a fair mark of 66, with regular pilot Danny Brock taking 3lb off his back.
He wouldn’t want the ground too firm as he got jarred up on such a surface at Newmarket last July, hence his switch to an artificial surface, but today’s ‘good’ should be absolutely fine for him. This sort of trip clearly suits him too and he so has a fitness advantage over the vast majority of his rivals, all of whom have to give him weight. He can go in again.
David Menuisier hasn’t been training on his own right for very long, having previously assisted the now retired John Dunlop at Arundel, and he could be set for a breakout season. It’s started it very well with three turf winners from just seven runners (43%) already on the board, to go with a couple on the all-weather. One of his three turf winners came from ANGEL GRACE, who was scoring on her seasonal reappearance at this track 20 days ago (1m, heavy), and she looks capable of following up in this afternoon’s 1m2f handicap (4.10pm).
Despite showing little in a couple of maiden starts at two, that win at 14/1 did not surprise her trainer as she had been working well at home and there was much to admire about the performance. Briefly outpaced as the tempo increased mid-race, she responded well to pressure and then dug deep inside the final furlong to get the better of the well-backed Stratum by a head, with a near three-length gap back to Finelcity (a winner at Epsom since) in third.
The mile trip looked the bare minimum for her on that occasion and, being out of a stayer, she ought relish the extra two furlongs of today’s race. She also has a fitness advantage over a couple of close rivals in the betting, including John Gosden’s La Mortola, who is almost certainly better than she’s shown in her three starts last season and is sporting blinkers for the first time. She has to be respected but the selection has less to prove and is value too.
A double on today’s selections with Sky Bet pays a tasty 26.5/1 at current odds, though both are big enough for single investments.