Rory Delargy: Strong-travelling Bertog can get the job done at last, but take out some insurance anyway

7 min


14:45 Newmarket

I’m keen to oppose those at the front of the early market here. Buffer Zone may be open to improvement, but he’s run to a similar level on his last couple of starts, and that isn’t good enough to win a competitive race off his current mark. Collateral form can be dangerous to take at face value, but a line through Kimifive, who beat Roger Charlton’s colt at Windsor before finding Staxton too strong over C&D last time, suggests the tissue favourite has a stiff task against the topweight. As well as Staxton, I can give decent form chances to Rebel Streak, Count Otto and Airshow without having to go back more than a couple of outings. It’s harder to make a strong case for Jawwaal, and yet that one is close to the top of the market despite being found wanting twice in big-field 3-y-o handicaps.

It’s true this is a little easier on paper, but John Gosden’s colt has achieved his wins at 7f and has lacked tactical pace in two handicap outings at this trip. The pair combined make up into a 2.5 shot at current prices, and I would much rather have the field running for me at those prices.

At the prices, I’d lay Buffer Zone for 2pts and Jawwaal for 1.5 but that might change a little as liquidity grows.

Recommended: Lay Buffer Zone @ 4.5 or shorter (max liability 7pts)
Recommended: Lay Jawwaal @ 6.0 or shorter (max liability 7.5pts)

15:20 Newmarket

Time Medicean comes here on the back of his first win in four years, and it looks at first glance like the veteran has turned the clock back in some style, but Brighton form is often misleading, and while Tony Carroll deserves great credit for keeping the twelve-year-old gelding sweet, he is undoubtedly flattered by a literal reading of his win, the race setting up perfectly for him.

He won this race way back in 2011 and is a regular in the field, but the fact that he’s been soundly beaten in the last two runnings underlines the task he faces, and he simply doesn’t look up to the task at this level. I expected him to be among the rags when looking at the forecast and was very surprised to see him quoted as short as he is.

Recommended: Lay Time Medicean for a place @ 5.5 or shorter (max liability 4.5pts)

17:35 Newmarket

I’m probably not the only one who has been waiting for Bertog to deliver on the distinct promise of his reappearance here in the spring, and normally when a notebook horse fails to convert that early promise after a couple of runs, you tend to believe that any implied value has either gone, or wasn’t really there to begin with. Sometimes there are outliers, however, and Bertog appears to be one of those, with every run offering a promise of more than the last. John Mackie’s smooth-travelling son of Sepoy may just be the type who keeps sucking punters in, but it’s possible to take on board both sides of the story by backing him with a view to offloading the stake if he tanks along like he has done on every start this season.

For me he’s an enigma in that he doesn’t quicken immediately, which fools people into thinking he needs further, but he clearly didn’t stay the trip (7.9f) at York last time after looking to be going best of all in the straight, and I think he needs to be woken up a little earlier at a shorter trip. The drop to 7f on predicted good ground at Newmarket is ideal in that regard, and I believe he can finally deliver on his early promise.

As a result, my main bet will be on him winning, but I’ll look to guarantee a small profit by laying him short in the run. He’s traded odds-on on two of his last three starts, and I’ll look to offload an extra point on top of the stake at slightly bigger than evens this time.

Recommended: Back Bertog @ 7.0 or bigger (liability 2pts)

Recommended: Lay Bertog in-running @ 2.1 (liability 3.3pts)

Click here for Matchbook’s latest Horse Racing markets