Value Bet: Big chance
Ben Linfoot seeks out the value on the second day of the Crabbie's Grand National meeting at Aintree.
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Experience came to the fore over the Grand National fences in the Fox Hunters' on Thursday as last year's fourth led home last year's winner, and I couldn't approach the Topham without backing at least one horse that we know goes well over the fences.
Step forward BIG FELLA THANKS, a standing dish in the National over the years with a respectable record of sixth, seventh and fourth-placed finishes to boot, despite never looking like staying four and a half miles.
- 1pt win Big Fella Thanks in 3.40 Aintree at 16/1 (General) - loves these fences, well worth trying over this course and distance and well handicapped
- 1pt win Tahiti Pearl in 3.40 Aintree at 28/1 (Coral) - big, prominent-running chaser in form of his life that looks the right sort for this unique test
- 1pt win Clondaw Kaempfer in 4.50 Aintree at 16/1 (General) - goes well here, lightly-raced and better than bare result at Cheltenham last time
He jumps the big fences well, creeps into things from the rear and is well worth a crack at this shorter distance - in fact, it looks his ideal trip looking through his winning form.
His last two victories have come over two and a half miles, both of them achieved off higher marks than he races off on Friday and the ground looks perfect for him too.
At Doncaster last time over three miles he made good headway before weakening late on, again suggesting that he needs a slightly shorter trip.
The good thing is the handicapper dropped him 3lb to 141, his lowest mark for five years (since he won the Sky Bet Chase off 136).
With Tom George in good nick after Parsnip Pete's win on Thursday, 16/1 makes plenty of appeal.
With experience covered, I'll chance one at a bigger price that has never run over the National fences with the 28/1 about TAHITI PEARL worth investing in.
Sue Smith brings this 10-year-old to Aintree for the first time, but this late maturer is in the form of his life and looks to have all the tools to go well over the famous spruce.
Physically he looks strong enough to cope with the demands of the race while his style of running gives him plenty of hope too, being a prominent racer and strong traveller.
He's versatile regarding ground conditions and the form of his latest Sedgefield win was boosted by Tranquil Sea, who went on to beat Big Fella Thanks among others at Doncaster.
The other one on the shortlist was Standing Ovation, a horse that I backed at Cheltenham when he was hassled for the lead over further. He caught the eye that day and could relish this slight drop in trip while he's another one who should keep out of trouble from the front.
However, at 12/1 with no experience over the fences I was happy enough to leave him alone.
Finally, CLONDAW KAEMPFER looks worth backing at 16/1 in the Alder Hey Children's Charity Handicap Hurdle.
Donald McCain's lightly-raced six-year-old has run well on both his visits to Aintree, winning a novice hurdle over the course and distance on his second start and then finishing third behind Like Minded in December.
He ran in the Coral Cup last time but is better than the bare result, as he had every chance two from home but just weakened in the closing stages having raced prominently most of the way.
The handicapper drops him just 1lb to 137 on the back of that but he's well worth another chance given that this will be just his eighth career start and Meister Eckhart, who finished just half a length ahead of him at Cheltenham, ran a blinder at Aintree on Thursday.
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: +207.81pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).