Mount a serious challenger
Ben Linfoot seeks out the value on Kempton's card on Boxing Day and he's on three selections at double-figure prices.
- 1pt e.w Mount Benbulben in 3.10 Kempton at 16/1 (Coral, 1/4 1,2,3) - this test looks perfect for him and if he can jump well, price is big
- 1pt win Loose Chips 1.25 Kempton at 10/1 (BetVictor) - loves it around here and he can go well from the front now he goes right-handed
- 1pt win Billy Twyford in 3.45 Kempton at 22/1 (BetVictor) - should go well in the ground over this trip in a wide-open race
One of the main things to acknowledge when looking at the market for the William Hill King George VI chase, is the likelihood that the race is going to turn into a gruelling test of stamina.
Since December 15 over 70mm of rain has fallen on the track and the 'Good' ground that prevailed at the last jumps meeting here at the end of November is now 'Soft', with more showers forecast in the next few days.
Al Ferof promises to be untroubled by three miles, but the combination of three miles and soft ground is an unknown and one that isn't really factored into his current odds of 4/1. Having had just one run in over a year, I'm happy to take him on.
Cue Card heads the market, but he put in the worst performance of his last 10 in this race last year, when making mistakes jumping out of the heavy ground. Such concerns linger again.
Silviniaco Conti was brushed aside by Grands Crus here in the Feltham and it's also hard to envisage reversing Betfair Chase form with Dynaste, who is the most solid of all of those at the top of the market for my money.
He was a very impressive winner of the Feltham at this meeting last year and ran very well on his seasonal reappearance behind Cue Card. He should come on for that run with this race his prime target for along time and he'd be a worthy outright favourite.
The problem is, he's virtually that already and hasn't been missed at 7/2, so the value may lie further down the list of runners.
I couldn't have Long Run after his two lacklustre efforts this campaign, Menorah is fairly interesting but hasn't suggested that this sort of stamina test will suit and I'm not sure Riverside Theatre will be anywhere near his best following his scrambling win from Champion Court in the Peterborough Chase only two weeks ago.
That just leaves MOUNT BENBULBEN who I keep coming back to at 16/1.
Gordon Elliott's horse has had jumping issues and they resurfaced at Down Royal last time when he unseated Danny Mullins four from home, when looking likely to play a hand in the finish at the time.
His jumping is clearly a worry, but at 16s it is factored into his price and he was judged to have 'jumped perfect' in a schooling session just a week after his Down Royal mistake.
If he can put in a clear round he can have a big say in the finish as three miles going right-handed in soft ground looks absolutely perfect for him, as his bloodless 22-length victory from some hardy stayers proved in the Grade One Growise Champion Novice Chase at the Punchestown Festival last April.
Elliott and owner Barry Connell have always held this horse in high regard and the very fact they have identified this race as his Christmas target is significant given the options he had at Leopardstown this week.
The likes of Dynaste will be hard to beat, but if there is one that has been underestimated in the market it's Irish raider Mount Benbulben.
The Christmas Hurdle is a real festive treat, with The New One and My Tent Or Yours all set to serve up a thrilling battle with the Champion Hurdle picture likely to become all the more clearer.
I would just favour The New One after his pleasing response to Sam Twiston-Davies' urgings up the Cheltenham hill last time, with My Tent Or Yours' appetite for a battle still to be proven despite his high-class form.
That looks a race to savour, though, with LOOSE CHIPS earlier on the card (1.25) the next appealing bet at 10/1.
Charlie Longsdon's horse won the closing handicap hurdle on this card last year and two of this three career victories have come at Kempton, his no nonsense style from the front shown to best effect at the flat Sunbury track.
He hasn't been able to show his best on his last two starts, jumping right on the left-handed tracks that are Plumpton and Fontwell.
However, those experiences should stand him in good stead here against some well-fancied rivals - including a few that have yet to jump a fence in public.
Rated 140 over hurdles at his best, he isn't obviously well handicapped over fences on 135, but granted the right conditions it's a mark he could well defy and he certainly has those on Boxing Day.
BILLY TWYFORD made the running when fifth at Leicester last time, but hopefully he'll be ridden with more restraint in the closing handicap hurdle (3.45).
This horse thrived on soft ground over two miles when held up, and has been consistent since stepping up in trip to two and a half miles.
Each of those runs has been on good ground, though, and he can take another leap forward now tackling the distance on soft conditions.
In a wide open contest, 22/1 looks more than fair.
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: 260.81pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current). The column is 130.50pts to recommended stakes in 2013.