Supreme bet at Newcastle
Ben Linfoot seeks out the value from Saturday's feature action at Wincanton and Newcastle.
We know Sandown's off, but that's about all we know. If Wincanton's on, Channel 4 will be there and at Lingfield, but if Wincanton's off, armchair viewers will be whisked up to Newcastle, as well as Lingfield.
Lingfield is the only constant, but I can't remember the last time I had a bet on a race there. If I won't part with my own cash, I can hardly kick off 2014 advising others to do just that, so it's to Wincanton and Newcastle we go, though the former's meeting is in some doubt.
Newcastle is heavy (soft in places) and no problems are envisaged if we trust the weather forecasters. Wincanton are heavy with some standing water on the chase track and have a 7am inspection, but clerk of the course Barry Johnson is optimistic.
David Pipe will be hoping Mr. Johnson's bright outlook is well placed, as he runs Consigliere in the Bathwick Tyres Handicap Chase for the third consecutive year and he's 11/4 to add to his 2012 victory in the contest.
He won that off a mark of 136, he was second to Big Fella Thanks last year off 138, and he's running off 136 again on Saturday with Kieron Edgar, who is one from four on him, claiming seven pounds.
Clearly, he has a good chance, but he hasn't won on heavy ground since 2009 and I just wonder whether his 11-year-old legs will be up to such a gruelling task.
At the prices, I'm prepared to take him on and with most of his rivals looking in the grip of the handicapper I'm happy to take a chance on the outsider of the field, NATIVE GALLERY, at 12/1.
He hasn't run over fences since winning a maiden chase at Folkestone easily in 2011, but he reverts to the bigger obstacles here after seemingly progressing as far as he can over timber.
That was to a career-high mark of 143, achieved when finishing third in a competitive handicap hurdle at Punchestown in April, a race run on heavy ground.
His only previous run on the surface came when winning comfortably at Aintree and, off a mark 10lb lower than that career-high rating over timber, he can go well.
A point-to-point winner over three miles on heavy, his stamina for this test looks assured and he's a big enough price to risk with his inexperience over fences the obvious concern.
If Wincanton doesn't get the go-ahead, National Hunt fans are left with Newcastle and VARDAS SUPREME could be worth a small interest in the Barbour Handicap Chase (2.50) at 25/1.
This horse was third behind Dingo Bay in this race last year, but gets a 22lb pull at the weights for a seven and a half length beating.
A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then, and the selection's performances have been mostly disappointing, but there was more to like about his Towcester fifth last time and the handicapper has dropped him a further 5lb since then.
Back at Newcastle, where he has a first and a third to his name from two starts, both of which were on heavy ground, he could take advantage of his dramatic slide in the weights.
*Wincanton was abandoned on Saturday morning.
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: +264.81pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).