I’m constantly banging on about taking the early price. Why wait? Unioniste was available at 4/1 with BetFred & Boylesports late afternoon on Friday. Other bookies were offering 7/2 – which was still a very good price. In this age when most online bookies offer Guaranteed Price terms, there really is no advantage to delaying bet placement. After all, if the SP price of your winner is larger than the price you took earlier, you’ll be paid out at the bigger price.
While, on days like Saturday, you lose out on profit if you wait. Unioniste was a mere 5/2 when he came past the winning post. He was the most heavily backed horse on the day. Not that I can take the credit for that! But I did stress my confidence to members of VG TIPS.
I did not hesitate to take the price of 4/1. I made Unioniste my NAP of the day to win on Saturday.
Little did I know that Tom Segal, Pricewise in the Racing Post, would also tip the Paul Nicholls gelding to win the 32Red Casino Handicap Chase. But he did and, inevitably, that meant the price on offer shortened overnight and throughout the morning. I cannot blame Tom for also tipping the grey to win. Like me, he will have seen that Unioniste was dropping back down in grade of race.
That was the reasoning behind making Unioniste my favoured bet of the day for members of my selections service, 24 hours in advance of the race. I love it when a top class horse that has competed well in graded company, without winning, then drops back into handicaps.
Here’s what I told members of VG Tips on Friday afternoon: “The Paul Nicholls trained Unioniste has been racing in a much higher grade of late, and up against some top class opponents such as Lord Windermere and Many Clouds. Indeed, this is the lowest class of race for Unioniste for almost two years. From a lower handicap mark, and with a jockey in the saddle who is firing home winners right now, Unioniste looks a good thing in this company. At 4/1, my money is already down.”
Unioniste looked comfortable throughout. He needed a slap down the neck once or twice when approaching early fences, but in form jockey Noel Fehily soon got him into a rhythm and the jockey bided his time before taking the lead. If anything, Unioniste won too easily. The margin of victory was 10 lengths and the handicapper is sure to react. I wouldn’t be backing Unioniste when he is stepped back up in grade, but he is now a decent each way price of 25/1 for the Grand National at Aintree in April.
But the one I took out of the race on Saturday in relation to that big race was the horse finishing third.
Back in November of 2013 Triolo D’Alene was a 20/1 winning tip from me to members of VG Tips.
That was when the Nicky Henderson trained entrant won the Hennessy Gold Cup that year. Inevitably his handicap mark was raised and Triolo D’Alene struggled in the same race last year. Some thought the gelding may have had his day in the sun.
But, on Saturday, while Unioniste looked comfortable in winning, the way Triolo D’Alene ran on to finish third caught my eye. Especially as the heavy going at Sandown at the weekend was not to the liking of Triolo D’Alene. He prefers good ground. But, cleverly, jockey Barry Geraghty took Triolo D’Alene very wide on Saturday. He was trying to find better, less soft ground. That enabled Triolo D’Alene to run on and prove he is not a back number.
Triolo D’Alene is best price 50/1 with Ladbrokes (ante-post) for the Grand National. I’m not a big fan of betting ante-post. After all, anything can happen between now and then. If the horse is withdrawn from the race, you’ll not get back any stake you have placed. Not unless you wait until some bookies offer non-runner, no bet terms (which they may do nearer the time). But that 50/1 is tempting me to bet on Triolo D’Alene each way for the Grand National. I’d even take the 40/1 being offered by BetFred and the Tote.
Were I betting on the Grand National now, Triolo D’Alene would be my each way bet at those prices.
As for Unioniste, I think I’d wait to see a) what the ground conditions are come the week of the race and b) his handicap mark for the race. I suspect the handicap mark will now be too high and that, aged 7, Unioniste will come up against a few opponents too good and, crucially, more leniently treated when it comes to the handicap.
And then, of course, there is the all important matter of ground conditions come the spring. Triolo D’Alene would, ideally, want ground classed as ‘good’ come April at Aintree.
Godsmejudge is another one whose progress I will be following between now and then.
But there’s plenty of racing before then. On Saturday members received from me winners at 4/1, 6/4 and 15/8. The jumps season is now approaching boiling point.
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