Value Bet: Little big price
Plenty of likely types are bonus hunting in the William Hill Imperial Cup at Sandown on Saturday with Regal Encore and Vibrato Valtat vying for favouritism.
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Both could be thrown in, especially the former, whose Hexham defeat behind Seeyouatmidnight looks a very good effort following that rival's subsequent exploits.
In fact, the 3/1 about Regal Encore could be the last remaining bit of value at the top of the market, as the next five in the betting have squeezed up behind him following varying support over the last few days.
- 1pt e.w Little Jon in 3.15 Sandown at 33/1 (Stan James, Coral) - Calipto form could be very useful and he might get an easy lead in ground he handles
- 0.5pts e.w Skint in 3.15 Sandown at 50/1 (General) - has a course win to his name off 10lb higher and first-time headgear/the classy O'Regan could nurse him into it
The one concern with Regal Encore is the form of Anthony Honeyball, and it's enough to put me off him at 3s in a race that often throws up a surprise result.
Soft-heavy ground and the possibility of a lack of early pace means another shock could be on the cards and at 33/1 LITTLE JON is a big price to hold off a bunch of classy hold-up merchants.
Nigel Twiston-Davies' horse is a maiden after six starts and looks an embryonic chaser, but he also looks to have plenty of ability and I can't resist him at the price.
He handles this sort of ground and ran a good race at Newbury last time when trying to stretch the stamina of Triumph Hurdle favourite Calipto.
He didn't have the speed to see off what could well be the Triumph Hurdle winner, but there is no disgrace in that and he did beat Seedling by five lengths - a horse that previously split useful pair Wilde Blue Yonder and Tiqris.
Seedling may not have handled the ground at Newbury, but he might just have been put in his place by two superior horses and Little Jon is worth chancing on his handicap debut.
There are similarities between his and Betfair Hurdle winner Splash Of Ginge's profiles and the same result is no forlorn hope.
The juvenile Harristown was also on the shortlist but experience might just do for him so a small each-way bet on SKINT completes the staking plan.
His huge odds (you might get 66/1 in the morning) are down to some potentially classy opposition and his tendency to not go through with his finishing effort, but at the odds he's worth chancing.
The ground and pace angle might just level things out regarding the opposition, while first-time blinkers could just help him go through with it when the going gets tough.
And from a handicapping point view he's no 50/1 shot. For a start, he was a winner of the EBF Final on this very card off a 10lb higher mark three years ago and though that was his last win over hurdles even his recent form suggests he has a chance.
Now trained by Ali Brewer, he returned from five months off at Wetherby in December and travelled well under Denis O'Regan before going down to Zaplamation by three lengths.
O'Regan's services are retained and if the new headgear keeps him interested for long enough, he might just spring a surprise.
*Ben Linfoot's Value Bet will published at 8am on every morning of the Cheltenham Festival.
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: +244.81pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).