Go to war with Squadron
Ben Linfoot seeks out the value on Paddy Power Gold Cup day at Cheltenham.
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The Paddy Power Gold Cup is the first proper Saturday-headline act of the National Hunt season and this year's renewal looks as good as ever.
The defection of the sexiest horse in the race at the six-day stage, Dynaste, has seen a plunge on his stablemate Ballynagour, and if you ignore his run at the Festival, which you probably can, he's a huge player.
- 1pt win Ballybough Gorta in 1.50 Cheltenham at 20/1 (Sky Bet) - in form, thorough stayer and well placed here at the bottom of weights over extreme trip
- 1pt win Colour Squadron in 2.30 Cheltenham at 12/1 (General) - classy horse who looks very well handicapped if he can jump better
- 1pt e.w Attaglance in 2.30 Cheltenham at 33/1 (General) - another well handicapped on hurdles form and much better last time over fences
Evidence suggests he's at his most deadly when fresh, and, after 247 days of rest, recuperation and in all likelihood shed loads of homework at Pond House, he's a major player.
His current price of 7/1 is tempting given the record of his stable in the race, the fact he is the sole representative when Dynaste was a serious option and the freshness angle.
However, having missed out on much bigger prices I can't help but feel this party has passed me by and even though he could potentially go off a couple of points shorter, it's elsewhere we go.
Champion Court and Johns Spirit are similar in the way they have obvious chances too, but they have also found their place in the market and both may have already shown the handicapper their hand.
With that in mind, I want a couple of unexposed horses on side who could be much better than their current marks and the two to go to war with are COLOUR SQUADRON and ATTAGLANCE.
The former needs to sort his jumping out if he's to land a blow but after just four runs over fences there's every chance he can.
A Grade One runner-up over hurdles, he has class and you just got the impression that each novice chase he took part in last season was all part of the learning curve.
Off a mark of 139 he was sent of the 9/2 favourite for the Rewards4Racing Novices' Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, connections clearly feeling they had their boy on a nice mark.
It didn't work out for him as he came home fifth, but, considering he was keen and hit a couple of his obstacles, it wasn't a bad run.
He's never run a bad race when fresh himself and off an identical mark he looks set to play a leading role if he can jump better.
At 12/1 he's worth chancing.
Attaglance, at 33s, is a much bigger price but he has similar claims being well-in when you compare him to his hurdles mark.
Admittedly, he is 6lb out of the handicap so the weights and measures could be even better for him, but when you consider he was rated 155 over hurdles he could be chucked in off what is effectively a mark of 137.
At Perth in September he ran his best race over fences when second to Double Ross and that was encouraging as far as this campaign goes.
He never got going last season, but good ground is essential for him as he showed when winning over hurdles at the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals in 2012.
Those results also show he's got all the tools required for a tough handicap, so, all in all, his price just looks a tad on the big side.
Finally, in the Murphy Group Handicap Chase (13.50), I want to be with BALLYBOUGH GORTA at 20/1.
This looks a fine bit of placing by Peter Bowen, who has found him a decent staying chase prize to have a shot at with the minimum amount of weight on his back.
A winner over 3m2f twice at Cartmel in July and August, he's a thorough stayer who will relish every yard of the (almost) three and a half mile trip on Saturday.
Runner-up off his revised mark of 132 at Bangor last time, he was outpaced in that contest but rallied to his great credit to finish second.
He might well be outclassed here, but he won't get a better chance to win a decent race and on ground that is absolutely fine for him, 20/1 looks generous.
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: +252.56pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current). The column is +120.25pts to recommended stakes in 2013.