Same Difference has the X Factor
Ben Linfoot seeks out the value in the United House Gold Cup at Ascot on Saturday.
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There's a feast of action either side of the Atlantic on Saturday and while there is a temptation to put up selections at Santa Anita, Down Royal and Wetherby, there is very little that stands out at the prices at all three meetings.
The Breeders' Cup is a great spectacle but it doesn't really fit this column's brief - the addition of a 20-runner five-furlong handicap might change that (!) - and to be honest, American racing is a subject I only flirt with once or twice a year.
The JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal, the first Grade 1 of the season, is a good race and while I'd be keen to take on Sizing Europe at the trip again, punters have been quick to forgive First Lieutenant his defeat last time and they may well be right. He's likely to go off favourite but isn't necessarily one I'd trust to get the job done at shortish prices.
At Wetherby I think At Fishers Cross will win but I'm not alone there while Unioniste, a Paul Nicholls-trained horse who could well develop into a serious tool this season, is only about right at 4/1 to beat Long Run in the Charlie Hall.
So, despite an orgy of equine action going on all over the place it's the United House Gold Cup at Ascot I turn to in search of Saturday profits, with SAME DIFFERENCE the bet at 12/1.
With Sam Twiston-Davies going to Wetherby to ride Unioniste and Tidal Bay for Nicholls, his father Nigel entrusts 7lb-claimer Ryan Hatch with his only runner of the day.
And why not after his ride on the horse at the Cheltenham Festival? Produced to perfection to beat Super Duty in a thrilling finish to the Kim Muir, the then 19-year-old showed composure in the saddle beyond his tender years.
The pair are reunited for the first time on Saturday, though Same Difference showed further improvement in his one race since then, in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in April.
Racing off a mark of 144 against more experienced rivals, he led over the last and found only Quentin Collonges too strong on the run-in when finishing a highly-creditable second.
The handicapper nudged him up another 4lb for that effort but there is plenty more to come from this seven-year-old this campaign. With the visor retained after successfully improving his form on his final two starts last season and Hatch taking off a potentially vital 7lb, he appeals at the odds.
Same Difference isn't the only horse with the potential to improve further in the race, but he is the only one who isn't disputing favouritism with Buddy Bolero, Triolo d'Alene, Wyck Hill and Opening Batsman all priced up around 8/1.
I'd give Same Difference an equal chance to that quartet and I also like the fact he has proved his stamina over further given this is likely to turn into a real test.
In the preceding William Hill Handicap Hurdle I like Court Minstrel, who could well develop into a Champion Hurdle candidate this winter.
The problem is, he excels under exaggerated hold-up tactics and the only obvious pacesetter is David Pipe's Shotavodka. 6/1 is tempting, but he's left alone.
1pt win Same Difference 3.20 Ascot at 12/1
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: +245.56pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current). The column is +113.25pts to recommended stakes in 2013.