Green for go at Ascot
Ben Linfoot takes two against the field as the Value Bet selections for Saturday's Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot.
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It's often said that it can be tough for last season's juveniles, but the 2012/13 crop have been flying this season and they dominate the market for Saturday's Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot.
Nicky Henderson's Rolling Star heads the betting following his win at Haydock, a result that was yet another boost for Our Conor's Triumph Hurdle form.
Paul Nicholls' Sametegal had already advertised the solidity of the Triumph form when winning at Cheltenham, and he was one of two four-year-olds who fought out the finish to the best handicap hurdle of the season so far, the StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle at the Open meeting.
Dell' Arca did tremendously well to beat him that day on his British debut, and double-figure prices about David Pipe's charge on Saturday are tempting with an 8lb rise fair and softer ground a possible catalyst for further improvement.
However, the four-year-old that I want to be with this weekend is Gary Moore's CHRIS PEA GREEN who is available at 14/1.
Seventh behind Our Conor at Cheltenham, Chris Pea Green has run two very good races in defeat this season despite not having ideal conditions.
He was keen when second to Pine Creek over the Ladbroke course and distance on November 2, while later that month he did the best of the hold-up horses when third to Ifandbutwhynot at Newbury.
Both races were run on faster than ideal ground and he'll relish the rain that has fallen and looks set to continue to fall in Berkshire in the build-up to Saturday's race.
A facile winner of his maiden hurdle on heavy ground, the son of Proclamation hasn't faced such conditions since and taking into account his last two efforts the extra-emphasis on stamina could well bring about a career-best performance.
Going back to the Greatwood, and indeed the Ascot race in which Chris Pea Green was second, brings my attention to PINE CREEK who is also worth backing at 18/1.
John Ferguson's five-year-old was sent off favourite for the Greatwood on the back of his Ascot win, unsurprisingly given how well he travelled that day, but he could only manage sixth at Cheltenham after being one of the horses hampered by the fall of Ahyaknowyerself.
Considering that he did well to finish as close as he did, and, on this more suitable track with an 8lb pull, it would be no surprise to see him turn the tables with Dell' Arca.
Perhaps he's a better horse on better ground, but he has won twice on soft and coped well with heavy on his hurdling debut.
In any case, his improved form this season may be as much down to maturity as it has been the ground and at the prices he makes plenty of appeal.
1pt win Chris Pea Green in 3.35 Ascot at 14/1
1pt win Pine Creek in 3.35 Ascot at 20/1
(Prices available at 1600 on Friday)
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: 262.81pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current). The column is 132.50pts in profit to recommended stakes in 2013.