Value Bet: Van the man
Ben Linfoot seeks out the value on the final day of York's Ebor Festival and he's backing Van Percy in the feature handicap.
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You'll hear talk of season-long plots ahead of Europe's richest handicap, The Betfred Ebor, and such is the competition for the big loot just getting in the race is a fine achievement in itself.
Luca Cumani has won this race three times in the past, but his main hope for this year's renewal didn't even get in the contest with Havana Cooler having to make do with the second reserve slot.
He doesn't make the final cut, but Cumani is still represented by Sir Walter Scott and he's worth a second look despite his inexperience.
However, that lack of experience does put me off him when it comes to parting with my cash and I reckon the same owners have a better chance in the race anyhow in the form of VAN PERCY.
Andrew Balding's improving stayer was bought by OTI racing with future Melbourne Cups in mind and he looks well on the road to be competing in all the top staying races.
Over the Ebor distance of 1m6f he's two from three, his only defeat coming in the Melrose Handicap on this day last season when he could only manage sixth.
The soft ground was against him that day, but it looks like we're not going to get any more rain on the Knavesmire this week and that's in his favour as he's thrived on fast ground this summer.
Back in May he was an easy winner over 1m6f at Newmarket and though he ran below form from a poor draw in the Northumberland Plate he resumed his upward curve at Goodwood last time.
He battled it out with Havana Cooler at the Glorious meeting before coming out on top by a neck and he was produced brilliantly by David Probert who gets on very well with him and takes the reins again.
That race has been a good pointer to Ebor success in the past, as Mephisto won the Goodwood contest before going onto Ebor glory and Sergeant Cecil was third in the Goodwood race before triumphing on the Knavesmire.
Van Percy could well repeat the feat under just a 4lb penalty and at 14/1 he rates a very fair bet, given he's proven himself at a similar level over the trip recently.
The big ante-post gamble for the race is Pallasator, but we've certainly missed the boat as far as he's concerned with the current prices of around 7/2 untouchable.
He could well win, but it's one of Sir Mark Prescott's former charges that I would rather back as well as Van Percy as MUTUAL REGARD is a big price at 20s.
Johnny Murtagh trains him now and in two starts he's improved 11lb to a mark of 106.
Murtagh himself concedes that could be a little high, but Louis Steward's 5lb claim helps a little and his form has been boosted twice at York this week.
At the Curragh in June he beat Edge Of Sanity by two lengths and that rival came out and won the Fine Equinity Stakes at the track on Wednesday, while his conqueror from Leopardstown on his latest start, Pale Mimosa, won the Lonsdale Cup on Friday.
The worry is he's a real stayer and he might be outpaced, but I don't think many will be finishing better and if he can keep tabs on the principals early in the straight he's going to be a threat to all.
Earlier on, KASHMIRI SUNSET is worth chancing in the Melrose Stakes at 20/1.
Ed de Giles' Tiger Hill colt is another who doesn't do anything quickly, but with that in mind it's to his great credit that he's performed so well over a mile and a half.
He's been a close second on his last two starts and won at Chepstow, continuing his progression over a trip that's just a tad too short for him.
The step up in trip by a quarter of a mile looks sure to play to his strengths as he's related to a whole host of stayers, including his full-brother Darley Sun who won the Cesarewitch when he was three.
He gets in at the foot of the weights here and looks worth a small each-way investment.
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: +336.09pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current) 2014 running total +68.28pts.