Sixty Something to shout about
Ben Linfoot seeks out the value on day one of the Aintree Grand National meeting.
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It's a terrific start to the Aintree Grand National meeting with four Grade One races and some devilishly difficult handicaps to get stuck into on day one.
The Betfred Bowl produced a shock result last year when Follow The Plan popped up at 50/1 but usually this race goes to a well-fancied horse and Silviniaco Conti will be just that following his fall in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last time.
We will never know if he would've won, but he was travelling as well as anything and you have to think he'd have had the measure of The Giant Bolster and Cape Tribulation who reoppose here.
Given he won so well at Aintree last year I'm loathe to take him on, so I won't.
The Aintree Hurdle is an intriguing renewal but it also looks a race to swerve with so many imponderables. Is The New One ready for the rise in class? Will Grandouet stay? Are Countrywide Flame and Zarkandar quite good enough? Can race specialists Oscar Whisky and Thousand Stars bounce back from last-time out disappointments back on a favourable track?
My gut feeling says The New One might just take the step up to open company in his considerably classy stride, but at around 3/1 I won't be betting on it.
So, to the handicaps and some horses who missed Cheltenham with Aintree and some proper spring ground in mind.
SIXTY SOMETHING is a horse I've been waiting to back since his latest victory and he could be the bet of the day in the closing Silver Cross Handicap Hurdle.
He won at Aintree on good ground back in October off a 20lb lower mark but he's still improving and after going up just 8lb for his most recent win 20/1 is fair value about his chances.
The handicapper couldn't be too harsh as he won by just a length at Market Rasen but it was very cosy given he idled once putting the race to bed in the straight.
I thought he had the race won a long way from home, Dominic Elsworth was forced wide for a long way but he had bags in hand on his rivals and his jockey probably hit the front sooner than he'd have liked.
I'm convinced he'll appreciate a faster pace here and with Denis O'Regan booked he couldn't have a finer man in the saddle for a race of this type.
Rely on him in the closer, but take two against the field in the Matalan.co.uk Red Rum Handicap Chase at 16.15 in the shape of TOUBAB and ASTRACAD.
Double-figure prices about these two look fair.
I want to take on Kid Cassidy who showed his hand at Cheltenham while Rebel Rebellion might not be experienced enough for a race of this nature.
It's going to be rough and ready over this quick two miles but Astracad looks set to run a huge race in first-time blinkers.
Second in this race off a 2lb higher mark last season, he goes well fresh and on good ground. He tried and failed over much further in heavy ground at Cheltenham in December, but he's still improving over two.
If the headgear sparks any improvement, he should go close and 11/1 is fair.
Toubab is another who missed the Festival in favour of this meeting and he relishes good ground as well.
Second to Sprinter Sacre in the Maghull here last season, his win at Doncaster last time might've been worth more than the 5lb rise he received and he just looks like a horse who could well defy a mark of 145 in these conditions.
How he'll handle a big field, I'm not sure. But at 12/1 it's worth paying to find out.
*Ben tipped Levitate at 40/1 for the Lincoln on Saturday to take his 2013 total to +61.5pts to advised stakes/prices.
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: +193.81pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).