Hadrian to rule in the Hennessy
Ben Linfoot provides two Value Bet selections for Saturday's card at Newbury including Hadrian's Approach in the feature.
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It pays to be wary of what trainers say in the run-up to any horse race. They tend to be over-positive or over-negative about their horses chances.
With a big race like the Hennessy, there has been plenty of chatter and the words of Jim Culloty and Alan King have seen their hopes flip-flop in the market.
Lord Windermere was an admittedly underestimated 14/1 chance just a week ago, but that was before a bullish Culloty came out and said, "I think he's got a great chance, I really fancy him."
Now half the price at 7/1, Lord Windermere has not only found his place in the market he's galloped on past it by a big enough distance for him to be happily ignored.
King's Invictus, a general 7/1 chance only days ago, is now available at double-figure prices largely due to his trainer's comments that went, "I think his odds are absurd as, while there are plenty of positives, he also has questions to answer."
Prices around the 10/1 mark about Invictus aren't absurd at all, as he looks very well handicapped on his novice chase form and this has been the target for a very long time.
King will have him as fit as he can be for this assignment, but it is a legitimate concern that he hasn't had a prep race after such a long time off and though odds of 10/1 are tempting, there look to be horses with better, or just as good chances at bigger prices.
One of those is the same owner's HADRIAN'S APPROACH who has just as good a chance as Lord Windermere at the weights yet is available to back at double the price.
Everyone knows this horse has had the odd issue with his jumping, but it looks to be a concentration thing rather than a technique thing and it's encouraging to see the cheekpieces applied along with regular work rider and useful claimer Nico de Boinville.
Though he's made at least one mistake in every one of his chases he keeps on galloping to the line and if he does put in a clear round I think he's the one to beat.
Several of his novice chase efforts suggest as much, most notably his nine-length second to Dynaste (now rated 169) in the Feltham, his unlucky short-head second to Unioniste (now rated 152) at this track when giving him 1lb and his seven-length third behind Lord Windermere in the RSA Chase.
Houblon Des Obeaux, three lengths behind Hadrian's Approach in the RSA, won off 144 at Ascot last time and is up another 10lb here, so there are plenty of examples that suggest Nicky Henderson's charge is well-handicapped off a mark of 146.
With his second at Kempton over an inadequate distance sure to have sharpened him up, he looks primed for a huge run and 14/1 is more than fair.
Earlier on the card, the bet of the day could be Paul Nicholls' SAPHIR DU RHEU in the bet365 Handicap Hurdle (1.50).
He looked a horse with a big future when hosing up at Taunton in January, and his performance when well beaten in the Fred Winter can be excused as he made a bad mistake at the third flight.
His fifth at Sandown over two miles in heavy ground on his seasonal reappearance was more than satisfactory given Nicholls' runners have been improving bundles for a run, and significant improvement can be expected due to the step up in trip as well given he's from a family of two-and-a-half milers.
It's a competitive enough race, but 12/1 about this fellow should be snapped up.
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: +252.81pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current). The column is +120.50pts to recommended stakes in 2013.