>>>> I can help you….
My name is Nick Pullen….
I’ve been betting the horses for 30+ years – and since 2007 I’ve written the Against The Crowd (ATC) service….
My column goes out Tuesday to Friday and caters to racing punters who bet the big-field handicaps on the flat and over the jumps – the toughest betting puzzles on the racing programme….
My simple objective is to provide readers with high-quality information, insights, advice, and opinions they can put to profitable work in the big-field handicap markets. No more. No less….
I reckon I do a pretty good job of it. My track record says as much. And I reckon plenty of readers would agree….
But that doesn’t mean I’m an infallible genius who knows everything and always gets everything right. Not at all. I’m far from that….
I don’t mind telling you straight off the bat that I’m wrong a hell of a lot more times than I’m right….
That’s always been the case and it always will be….
I don’t pick the winner of every race I target for bets at the weekend or at the big midweek Festivals….
I don’t get it right with every observation I make….
I don’t get it right with every opinion I share….
I don’t get it right with all the advice and recommendations I give....
I get plenty wrong. But I don’t worry about it. And I certainly don’t apologise for it….
Getting things wrong is part and parcel of playing the game. It’s par for the course. To be expected….
After all, we’re talking about horse racing – a sport that revolves around largely unpredictable half-ton animals made of flesh, blood, muscle, and bone running around a field….
Nobody gets everything right. Nobody could hope to….
The important thing is to get enough right at sufficiently good prices to make the game pay across the long term….
And I most certainly get that job done. I’ve been doing it for 15-years. And I can tell you for sure that my readers – past & present would happily confirm that….
But, at the end of the day, they don’t need to. Because it’s all a matter of incontrovertible record….
Make your betting pay more across the long-term….
>>>> Take Harswell Duke in the Spring Mile, for instance….
The start of a new flat season is always a difficult time for punters....
There's not much form in the book and – unless you've got first-class inside information to work with – figuring out how forward any yard's horses are in the very early stages of a season can boil down to speculation at best and guesswork at worst….
But potentially well-handicapped horses represent solid betting opportunities in handicap races – at whatever point in the season they turn out on the track….
The trick lies in spotting them ahead of the race – and not being afraid to back your judgment (preferably at a decent price)….
Spotting well-handicapped horses is a central plank of the game on my ATC service – and I certainly hit the ground running in that department at the outset of the 2023 flat season….
The Lincoln meeting is the first fixture of the season. The Spring Mile – run over the straight mile – is a decent handicap that almost always attracts a big field….
…. and picking out Harswell Duke 24-hours ahead of time – advised at 14s and sent off at 10s – proved to be a smart piece of work and a good start to a fresh campaign….
There is no great mystery to the pick – at least not with the benefit of hindsight….
On the Friday morning ahead of racing, I said this to my readers….
It proved to be a good call – Harswell Duke making all, travelling strongly and showing real grit to hang on in the closing stages….
Reader PM wrote into say this….
Reader IC got in touch to say this….
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>>> Or consider Bill Baxter in the Topham at Aintree....
Warren Greatrex had endured a poor time of it and was patently out of form heading into Aintree’s Grand National meeting in April 2023….
His 7yo Bill Baxter was roundly unfancied for the Topham Chase – in which 29 horses went to post….
But – as you’ll find when you sign up to my ATC service – I don’t give a monkeys what anybody else thinks about a race, a horse, or a bet….
I make a point of going my own way. I do my own watching. I conduct my own analysis. I do my own thinking. And I come to my own conclusions….
The bottom line is that I tune out any other opinion. I talk to nobody. I don’t read other columnists. I don’t listen to talking heads. I don’t subscribe to anybody’s advisory service. And I don’t pay any attention to what other pickers might think. I’m not interested in anybody else’s viewpoint….
If that sounds arrogant or pig-headed, it’s not intended that way. I just don’t want my own thoughts polluted by the opinions of other people. I find other people’s opinions a distraction – and I prefer to keep things as pure as possible by keeping my own counsel….
And that approach can pay dividends – just like it did at Aintree. I put Bill Baxter up as my bet – despite market negativity….
24-hours ahead of the race, I told my readers this….
…. and the 7yo duly obliged – putting in a fantastic display of jumping from tapes to post and running out a decent winner….
I don’t think any other single soul put him up ahead of the race – and the result goes to show that ignoring market sentiment – and working towards your own judgments – can pay real dividends….
Naturally, ATC readers were delighted….
GN contacted me to say this….
GC said this….
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>>>> Or take on board this dazzling 1-2 in the 2022 Imperial Cup….
Big-field handicaps are my favourite betting targets….
Many punters steer clear of these races. They compare them to lotteries – impossible to call and with the winners emerging at random….
And I kind of understand this point of view – the big-field handicaps are a tough environment even for the most clued-up punter....
But that environment is what I love most about racing. When races are so competitive and complex, the bookies and the market can easily make errors and misjudgements when assessing horses – allowing ‘live’ contenders to go off at big prices....
My mission – week to week throughout the racing year – is to spot these pricing errors and to capitalise on them….
Now, I don’t claim to get everything right all of the time – or even half the time. I get much more wrong than I get right. That’s the nature of the handicap betting game (nobody said it was easy – and it isn’t)….
But it ain’t impossible either. Stellar outcomes are more than feasible if you’re on the ball and you’re prepared to put the work in – like I do on my ATC service….
Take the Imperial Cup run at Sandown Park on Saturday 12th March 2022….
A field of 22 horses went to post on soft ground for a race billed as an impossible-to-call battle royale….
I can’t remember now who wrote the piece, but on the morning of the race one commentator told his readers that they might as well throw a dart at the race card….
Fair enough. We all have our own ways of landing on a selection….
But I prefer to invest time and effort studying the horses – in a bad to figure out which are most likely to thrive in the conditions and circumstances the race presents. It’s an approach that can pay dividends….
More than 24-hours ahead of the off I told me readers this….
I also told them this….
And these proved to be two very decent calls….
Surprise Package landed the bet – travelling sweetly before powering clear and winning by 9-lengths….
Better still he was sent off at 20s – after proving friendless in the pre-race betting….
Back in 2nd – landing place bets for ATC readers who chose to go in on both horses – was Lively Citizen….
Reader DG wrote in to say this….
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t find the 1-2 in these big-field handicaps week in and week out. And nowhere close. But this occasion wasn’t the only time I’ve pulled off that particular trick. And it won’t be the last either….
Be better-informed than the punters you bet against….
>>>> Bear this in mind - not all great bets win….
The ATC objective – whether it’s via tips or high-quality insight – is to provide information that leads to winning bets….
But – because we focus on the most competitive races on the programme – we are always up against it….
Just as a horse can run the race of its life in a valuable big-field handicap – and still not win – a handicap punter can dig out a top-drawer bet and still not find a winner….
That happened to me a few times last season over the jumps. I dug out fantastic selections (even if I say so myself) that ran massive races at big prices – but still managed to find just one horse in the field too good on the day….
It hurts, but it’s part and parcel of the big handicap game – and it’s something that has to be dealt with….
Take Moroder, for instance. He ran in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown on Saturday 29th April 2023
Ahead of the race, I told my readers this….
In the race Moroder ran an absolute cracker – more than justifying the bet. But he found race favourite Kitty’s Light – in a purple patch of form and just too well-handicapped on the day – too good….
Hill Sixteen was an even tougher result to take at Aintree in the Becher Chase on Saturday 4th December 2021….
I also told them this….
It turns out the change of scene and the Thomson regime had reignited him. He ran a blinder at Aintree – an absolute blinder – but got nailed on the line and beaten a nose by Snow Leopardess….
I can tell you hand on heart that Hill Sixteen in the 2021 Becher Chase is one of the best bets I’ve ever struck in my life. Nobody fancied that horse that afternoon. Nobody. I stood alone on that horse – completely against the crowd – and my opinion was right. Even though Hill Sixteen got beaten, my out-of-step opinion was right. I only collected place money – but I reckon it still ranks as a classic high-quality ATC handicap bet….
Reader NF got in touch to say this….
Reader VM had this to say….
Smarter thinking – smarter info – smarter betting….
>>>> How we cashed in on Frankel progeny….
And ATC is not just about highlighting individual horses….
I also dig out little-known betting angles you can exploit and make profits from….
Just like the one I shared ahead of the 2021 Royal Ascot meeting – one that revolved around Frankel progeny….
Here’s what I told my ATC readers….
That was high-quality information – a pre-meeting steer that led ATC readers to profitable bets at the meeting….
Here’s what ATC reader NH had to say….
Terry weighed in too….
Angles that deliver profit….