Don't ignore the Whisper
Ben Linfoot seeks out the value on day one of the Open Meeting at Cheltenham and he's backing 9/1 and 14/1 chances.
- Related Content
There are few trainers that target the Open Meeting at Cheltenham like local handler Nigel Twiston-Davies.
Of those currently training, only Paul Nicholls has trained more Open winners with 34. Twiston-Davies is on 25, four more than Nicky Henderson and five more than Philip Hobbs, the quartet clear of the rest.
At his press day on Tuesday, NTD made it clear that this meeting is the one he wants winners at the most outside of the spring festivals and his lightning-quick starts to seemingly every season are not coincidence.
Clearly, his runners are of great interest this weekend and HAVE YOU SEEN ME is certainly one of them now he gets to race back over the minimum trip in the Paddy Power Handicap Chase (1.35).
An exuberant front-runner over further, Have You Seen Me keeps on tiring late on and has shaped like a two-miler just about every time he has run.
Yet the lightly-raced ten-year-old has only run over two miles over fences once in his career, when winning a beginners' chase at Towcester in 2010.
That old form obviously isn't one to rely anymore, but he did have Micheal Flips and Divers in behind so it was a good race at the time and more relevantly he looked in good nick on his last two starts at Stratford and Worcester.
It's of no surprise that Twiston-Davies has waited until this meeting to unleash him over two miles, and, despite being pulled up the last time he ran at Prestbury Park, the way he ran at last year's December meeting suggests he could be a force at this trip.
With his fitness a given considering where he hails from, 14/1 that they don't catch him is fair.
Later on the card Nicky Henderson's WHISPER looks a bet at 10/1 in the David Johnson Memorial Intermediate Handicap Hurdle (2.40).
Owner Dai Walters holds a strong hand in this race with the David Pipe-trained Top Gamble well-fancied, but at more than double his odds Whisper looks the one to be on.
While Top Gamble has yet to prove himself over further than two miles (admittedly, it shouldn't be a problem), Whisper has won over two and a half miles on three occasions, including at this track.
That victory was on his last run at the April meeting, when he beat Alan King's smart Valdez (a winner over fences the other day) by a length and a half, the pair well clear of the rest (including Puffin Billy).
Good form indeed, and probably the best in the line-up. Having proven himself on better ground, too, Whisper has an advantage over some of his market rivals and there is plenty more to come from him.
There are plenty of dangers in a race full of progressive, unexposed horses, but the top-weight Whisper is certainly one of them and his price looks slightly-inflated due to the presence of the same owner's Top Gamble.
Ben Linfoot's Value Bet Aim: The Value Bet is designed to generate long-term profit by searching for overpriced horses in the feature weekend races and at the big Festivals in the UK. Running total: +254.56pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current). The column is +122.25pts to recommended stakes in 2013.