Value Bet: Going for Gold
Ben Linfoot seeks out the value on the final day of the jumps season at Sandown while he has one eye on the Flat at Haydock.
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The jumps season reaches its conclusion at Sandown on Saturday and judging by Friday's Flat action at the track, and the weather forecast that promises a bit more rain, conditions are going to be fairly testing for the time of year.
It's going to be difficult following up from the Scottish National in such a physical test and that puts me off the likes of Godsmejudge, Roalco Des Farges and the other horses that ran at Ayr, despite the obvious form chance of the first named.
Last year's runner-up Same Difference is well-handicapped on his form from that campaign, but he isn't one to trust at single-figure prices on any showing from this season, while Ardkilly Witness holds no secrets from the handicapper judging by his last two showings in the sphere.
The extra distance could help him, but at 8/1 he hardly appeals as one to be on at the prices.
That horse could be the veteran CARRUTHERS, a horse that has never run at Sandown despite having all the tools to prosper at the track - the bold-jumping front-runner should relish the Railway Fences.
He too holds no secrets from the handicapper, but he is back down to a mark we know he can be competitive off. Now rated 148, he won the Hennessy off 146, the West Wales National off 147 and Nico de Boinville, whom he gets on well with, takes off a vital 3lb.
The pair didn't get on well last time, Carruthers unseating his pilot at the start at Aintree. But that could be a blessing in disguise, as he comes into this race a relatively fresh horse, with just one completed run since January 11.
He hasn't been right-handed for ages, and there might be a younger horse on the up that will prove too good. But looking through the field and at the market nothing appeals as much as Mark Bradstock's old favourite at 25/1.
While we wave goodbye to the National Hunt season the Flat is firmly in full gear now and there is a good seven furlong handicap up at Haydock that has a nice shape to it.
There is plenty of pace on here, with Big Johnny D, Set The Trend, Don't Bother Me and Glen Moss all possible front runners.
Things could well be set up for a hold-up horse and that could be Sir Reginald with Ryan Moore booked, but he looks nothing more than about right at 11/2 and I would rather take the 9/1 about LOUIS THE PIOUS.
He's raced mainly over six furlongs and his very best efforts last season came over that distance in ultra-competitive handicaps like the Stewards' Cup (seventh) and the Ayr Gold Cup (second), while his only win came in a conditions race at Haydock.
Those performances came off higher marks and he's well worth another try at seven furlongs, as long as he can settle well to utilise his burst of speed. The first-time hood should help in that regard.
Versatile regarding ground conditions, though any further rain would be welcome, Louis The Pious looks well worth chancing at 9/1 to continue the good start to the season for his handler David O'Meara.
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: +221.81pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).