Value Bet: Fill your boots

  • By: Matt Brocklebank
  • Last Updated: March 15 2014, 15:43 GMT

Matt Brocklebank seeks out the value in the Betfred Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter and an interesting Kempton card.

Empire Levant can return to winning ways at Kempton
Empire Levant can return to winning ways at Kempton

After the thrills and spills of the last four days at Cheltenham, the Betfred Midlands Grand National Chase (3.50) at Uttoxeter offers punters a fantastic opportunity to find a big-priced winner and play up the their Festival spoils. Or, in many cases, salvage something positive from an otherwise tortuous week.

The race clearly revolves around the 161-rated Harry Topper, who skipped Friday's Gold Cup in preference for this soft-ground stamina test.

Not only is he the classiest animal in the race, lining up on the back of a bloodless victory in the Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury, his presence at the top of the weights keeps the bottom 10 on the card racing from out of the handicap.

Kim Bailey's star is laden in stamina and the step up to four miles-plus for the first time in his career promises to suit ideally.

However, with the longer trip comes more fences and that might just be his undoing.

It's fair to say jumping is not Harry Topper's strong suit (the third and fourth-last were omitted at Newbury) and it's also worth noting he gets on so well with the dreadfully unfortunate Jason Maguire, who misses out through injury.

Nick Scholfied is a very able stand-in, but he has no experience of the seven-year-old's idiosyncrasies.

David Pipe has won the last three renewals and I can certainly see Goulanes, who didn't take to Chepstow in the Welsh National, bouncing back to form under Richard Johnson.

At a bigger price, though, I prefer the claims of FILL THE POWER, who is one of the few able to compete off his 'proper' mark following a 9lb rise in the ratings for winning at Wetherby last month.

Fifth in last year's Scottish National at Ayr, Sue Smith's gelding wasn't at his best on his first two starts this term but has clearly turned a corner now and he remains fairly treated on the pick of his form.

We need only go back to November 2012 to see him finishing half a length second when conceding 3lb to Wyck Hill in a handicap at Wetherby and he's now 9lb better off with that reopposing rival.

He also has experience of this very race having finished fifth 12 months ago and, with another year on his back, he's fancied to go considerably closer to hitting the target.

The notion of running Cheltenham consolation races at Kempton on Saturday strikes me as slightly bizarre but the new meeting contains some juicy big fields and I can't resist one in the Kempton Park Betdaq Silver Plate at 2.55.

I was hoping Empire Levant might sneak into the Martin Pipe conditionals' event at the Festival but I'm even more keen on him here as his best piece of form came at this track when second to Sire De Grugy in a novice hurdle.

That came back in February 2011 and everything hasn't been plain-sailing since, but the handicapper has relented and a couple of reasonable sharpeners in "jumpers' bumpers" should have him at peak fitness.

Paul Nicholls has had a mixed week at best but I'm not deserting the great trainer and 22/1 should be snapped up.

Selections:

1pt win Fill The Power 3.50 Uttoxeter at 11/1

1pt e.w. Empire Levant 2.55 Kempton at 22/1

The 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.

  • Posted at 1900 GMT on 14/03/2014.


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