Shamaal to rise to the Challenge
Ben Linfoot seeks out the value from Saturday's feature races at Ascot.
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Ismail Mohammed's patient approach paid dividends in the Cambridgeshire last week and he could well land back-to-back Saturday features with SHAMAAL NIBRAS making some appeal at 25/1 this weekend.
The four-year-old has run well several times this season without winning, but a combination of factors suggest he might be overpriced for the Betfred 'Goals Galore' Challenge Cup at Ascot.
Firstly, the in-form Mohammed has freshened him up with a two-month break following seven runs between March and July. The last time he had a similar break mid-season he came out and won at Salisbury last October, albeit in a four-runner conditions race.
Secondly, he brings good course form to the table. The cheekpieces have been ditched following his five-length 10th behind Galician here last time, but his earlier close third in the Buckingham Palace Stakes stands up to close inspection in the context of this race.
And thirdly, the rain that fell in Berkshire on Friday afternoon has turned the ground soft. Even if it dries out a little he looks sure to encounter the softest turf he has all year, and he thrived in such conditions last season.
In a wide-open heat he makes plenty of appeal and 25/1 is a fair enough price to justify an each-way wager.
With 18-runners going to post at the time of writing, the chance of non-runners means I'll be keeping stakes to a minimum and he'll be the only selection in the race.
Heavens Guest was also on the shortlist following his running-on fourth in the Ayr Gold Cup and the 16/1 is worth considering. I certainly think the classier horses towards the top of the handicap might struggle, with the likes of Heavens Guest and Shamaal Nibras in the bottom half preferred.
Earlier on, double-figure prices about the lightly-raced MUSIC MASTER in the Bengough Stakes should be snapped up.
Henry Candy's charge has been campaigned over seven furlongs on all five starts this season, and though he won his maiden over the trip in April his four subsequent efforts have all suggested he's worth a try back over six.
His effort when fifth in the Jersey Stakes showed he could be effective on this track while he looked pure and simple a six-furlong horse when doing too much early on at Goodwood on his latest start.
Whether he goes on softer ground is an unknown, but his brother, The Confessor, has lots of decent form on good to soft which offers hope.
I also think PRODIGALITY is worth a very small each-way bet at 50s.
He's the second-lowest rated horse in the race and with the each-way terms being 1/5 the first three this is a minimum stakes bet, but 50s seems overly generous.
The son of Pivotal has some very good form on soft ground and was unlucky in the Portland last time, faring second best in the disadvantaged group on the far side.
Graham Lee has a second and a third to his name from three starts on the horse and with plenty of pace around him he should get a good tow into the contest.
The top-rated horses in this race probably aren't worth their marks and though it looks like Prodigality has plenty to find at first glance, the gap might not be as big as it looks.
With plenty in his favour, he could outrun his huge odds and at least sneak a place.
0.5pts e.w Prodigality in 3.15 Ascot at 50/1
1pt win Music Master in 3.15 Ascot at 10/1
1pt e.w Shamaal Nibras 3.50 Ascot at 25/1
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: +265.56pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current). The column is +133.25pts to recommended stakes in 2013.