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|Njord||25/1||each-way (3 places without Baaeed & Palace Pier - option C)
|Escobar||16/1||each-way (7 places)
Date of Tips: 15/10/2021
Disclaimer The odds for these selections were correct at the time of publishing (19:17 15/10/2021) but may have changed since. Please check the latest price before placing your bet.
Jumps man I may be at heart, but my word, Saturday’s QIPCO Champions Day at Ascot doesn’t half look like a belting card!
Finding winners is the main aim of this column of course, but sometimes you have to sit back and admit defeat before the bout, and to some extent, I have done that for this year’s Champions Day card at Ascot on Saturday.
Despite the ground being a lovely mix of good to soft and good, and most of the main protagonists turning up – which for some would be the heady pre-cursor of a great punting card. But I see it slightly differently, as it just looks fiendish to me.
I’ll run through all six races, with my main thoughts, and never fear…I have found a couple of nice prices to be snaffled up.
The opening Long Distance Cup at 1.25 could potentially be round two of Trueshan v Stradivarius, but will they have left their races in the Longchamp bog two weeks ago?
Thus, the likes of Hamish and Baron Samedi, who would have a little to find in normal circumstances, could bridge the class gap.
If the ground were very soft, and he still may get away with it, then the sharply improving Tashkhan could be a whopping price at 66/1+, given his final circuit split in the Group 2, on the same card as the Prix Du Cadran at Longchamp, was very similar to that of Trueshan and Stradivarius. But I feel he may need it hock deep to be at his best.
The Champions Sprint at 2.00 has attracted the full field of 20, and much will depend on the draw, ‘twas ever thus at Ascot. Having seen a picture of the track on social media, it looks as if they are using the same nearside strip of ground in the straight as the meeting two weeks ago.
On rain softened ground that day, there was a significant bias towards low numbers, and with plenty of likely pace drawn low too, maybe Minzaal at 8/1+ could be the unknown star quantity that this division needs.
Drying ground might be the catalyst for a switch in the bias to the stands rail (who knows?!), and if it was then I could see Art Power making all on the stands rail from stall 20. Outsiders to note are Ainsdale, Azano and Ventura Diamond.
The Champion Fillies and Mares’ at 2.35 looks at the mercy of Snowfall, who made a huge move in the third quarter of the Arc De Triomphe two weeks ago, and if she’s none the worse for her exertions, then should prove tough to beat.
Albaflora does enjoy this track and trip though, so each-way thieves could back her at 6/1.
Finally, a bet on the card…in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at 3.10, and it’s neither Baaeed nor Palace Pier. What? I hear you ask. Well, they may finish 1 and 2, and yet we could still be on a 25/1 winner. Let me explain.
Both the top two in the market look very solid to me, and I wouldn’t be overly keen on trying to get them beat, but I do think Jessica Harrington’s Njord can massively outrun his price of 100/1 in places, and 66/1 for four places.
If you can get 5 places each-way, which William Hill and others will do in some of their exotic markets, then that could be a route to profit.
However, at 25/1 each-way for 3 places, as long as 10 stand their ground, then Njord in Paddy Power’s ‘betting without market Option C (Baaeed & Palace Pier) is definitely the bet.
Impressive winner of the Balmoral Handicap, in a time 0.1 seconds quicker than The Revenant ran in winning this race last year, Njord has been very unlucky on a number of fronts this season, and as a result he has been drastically overlooked in the market.
Do I think Njord can beat Baaeed and/or Palace Pier? No. But he won’t have to win to hopefully give us a winning 25/1 each-way bet. Third will do, and even fifth would make a profit.
The big one, the Champions Stakes at 3.50 looks very tough. Mishriff has never been at his best at Ascot, Adayar has had a less than ideal preparation given his rush to get ready for the Arc, Addeybb might have preferred it softer and might not be quite good enough.
So, which of the outsiders could outrun their price? Perhaps Sealiway or the mercurial Al Aasy, but I won’t be having a bet.
I will be having a bet in the Balmoral Handicap at 4.25, and assuming that the earlier Champions Sprint doesn’t suggest that a low number stall is a disadvantage on the straight track, then the 2019 victor Escobar could easily pounce fast and late, and at 16/1 each-way with Betfred for 7 places, David O’Meara’s consistent and quality performer can hit the frame at the very least.
If the high draws are the place to be, then Sunray Major could win by as far as he wants, given how easily he won two weeks ago, which earned him the penalty which snuck him in as the last one in at the bottom of the weights. Ever a man for a plan, John Gosden has excelled himself here.
But hopefully the draw will give the low numbers a chance, and Escobar at 16/1 each-way with Betfred will give us a run for our money late on.