How a Spectator Life reader put me on to a 20-1 shot for a Festival handicap

  • From Spectator Life
Nassalam at Fontwell Park in December 2020 [Getty Images]

One of the nicest parts about writing this weekly column for Spectator Life is the informed comments that greet it each week from readers. I am thinking specifically about people such as ‘Simian Leer’, ‘Oswald Grimes’ and ‘Simon’. This week my thanks go to ‘Simian’, who in late December highlighted the chances of NASSALAM in the Paddy Power New Year’s Day Handicap Chase.

Nassalam finished a staying-on third that day and ‘Simian’ later posted a second comment asking whether the Ultima Handicap Chase might be a good Festival target for Gary Moore’s six-year-old gelding. The astute reader seemed convinced a step up in trip to more than three miles would suit the horse.

As Nassalam prefers cut in the ground, the horse will also benefit from any guaranteed watering – if necessary –  to ensure the ground is ‘good to soft’ on the opening day. If the heavens open before day one of the Festival, all the better.

Today, too, the form of that New Year’s Day contest, in which Nassalam was third, could hardly be working out better with the fourth horse, Il Ridoto, dotting up on Cheltenham Trials’ Day last weekend and the sixth horse, Jacamar, winning comfortably just two days ago at Leicester.

Of course, Nassalam is not guaranteed to run in the Ultima and, if he wins another big handicap before the Festival, he will blow his current handicap mark/official rating of 144. But, hopefully, with the Festival not much more than a month away, that will not happen and this race could well be his target.

All in all, it makes sense to back Nassalam Non Runner No Bet for the Ultima – four bookies (Sky Bet, William Hill, bet365 and BetVictor) now have this offer on all Festival races. Take the 20-1 each way NRNB paying five places with Sky Bet rather than the 25-1 with some other firms not offering the NRNB concession and only paying four places.

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