Poet nice at the price

  • By: Ben Linfoot
  • Last Updated: February 8 2014, 15:41 GMT

Ben Linfoot seeks out the value from the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday and he's taking two against the field.

Poet: Big price at 40/1 for the Betfair Hurdle
Poet: Big price at 40/1 for the Betfair Hurdle

As you'd expect for one of the richest and best handicap hurdles in the calendar, the Betfair Hurdle is an intriguing puzzle with many of the contenders holding valid claims for the £86,849 first prize.

And plenty of the game's best trainers hold strong hands on paper.

The master at scooping the big pot on a Saturday afternoon, Paul Nicholls, saddles super sub Far West and recent Ascot winner Irish Saint, with both understandably competing for positions towards the top of the market.

Both should be fine on the ground, and the comments relating to Far West and his ulcer problems sound eerily similar to the ones we heard about Lac Fontana before he hosed up at Cheltenham on trials day.

He's not easily passed over, but having missed the 25/1 about him earlier in the week I'm loathe to back him at 12s and it's hard to argue he'd be the best handicapped horse in the field.

Irish Saint could be just that. He's officially 8lb well in, but his improvement at Ascot came over almost half a mile further and he found things happening much too quickly over two miles earlier in the campaign.

Nicholls isn't the only leading handler with more than one bullet to fire.

Nicky Henderson is triple-handed with Rolling Star, Gibb River and Vasco Du Ronceray, David Pipe has two to call on in Dell' Arca and Swing Bowler, Alan King has an interesting duo with Vendor and the returning Montbazon, while Jonjo O'Neill has two at the bottom of the weights in Prompter and Alaivan.

I was on Alaivan last week in the Welsh Champion Hurdle when he was a non-runner and was tempted to put him up again, but once more the huge prices about him disappeared earlier in the week.

He's 5lb well in himself and should be suited by a big field in this ground, but at 14/1 in a competitive field he's found his place in the market.

The one towards the top of the market that I like the chances of and who does look to have been underestimated is Brian Ellison's TOTALIZE at 16/1.

He was sent off at 9/1 for The Ladbroke but is almost twice the price here mainly because he was pulled up in that contest.

However, that was without his hood, an appliance that seems to be necessary for him these days and he's already proved that run to be all wrong with it back on when he ran second at Cheltenham.

Lac Fontana looked thrown in that day, but Totalize beat the rest comfortably. So much so the assessor raised him 5lb, a burden he doesn't have to carry on Saturday.

He excelled on heavy ground on the Flat, ran very well on heavy ground on trials day and he just has the look of a very well-handicapped horse who will be ideally suited by Saturday's test.

Ellison's name comfortably sits alongside the aforementioned band of trainers when discussing races of this type and he came within an inch of winning this contest in 2011 when Bothy was beaten a short head.

At 16/1, Totalize is value to go one better.

The other one I like is a bit of a stab in the dark, but I cannot resist the 40/1 about POET.

He looked a potentially very good hurdler when winning his maiden at Newbury last season - a track at which he excelled at on the Flat when never out of the places in four starts.

A lover of heavy ground, his blood was wrong when flopping in last year's Tolworth - his very presence an indication of the regard he's held in, while his reappearance this season came on unsuitable good ground (remember that?).

Last time at Wincanton he went off too fast with Decoy and Advisor, but did much the best of that trio when weakening into sixth.

If he can settle better - and he should in this race - a mark of 124 could be very lenient at his favourite track, especially with James Banks taking a further 5lb off.

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: +254.81pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).

  • Posted at 1700 GMT on 07/02/2014.