Value Bet: Stars to shine
Ben Linfoot seeks out the value on day three of Royal Ascot, featuring the Gold Cup.
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The Ascot Gold Cup remains the highlight of the Royal meeting, with Leading Light a very short price to win the Group One feature yet again for Aidan O'Brien.
The Ballydoyle maestro won the race four times with the great Yeats and once with Fame And Glory, with this year's renewal pencilled in for Leading Light ever since he won the St Leger last September.
His comeback win over Royal Diamond in the Vintage Crop Stakes proved his well-being and propelled him to even shorter prices in an ante-post market that he has dominated over the winter.
Obviously he has a favourite's chance, but 11/8 is very short for a horse that isn't guaranteed to stay two-and-a-half miles. He's won over two miles - and at Ascot too, which helps - but the Gold Cup is a different test and he could well be a top-notch two miler that gets beaten for stamina in the big one.
I'm keen to take him on at the prices, but the problem is the potential for a Rule 4 as I doubt Tac De Boistron will even run on this drying ground.
Brown Panther has improved this season and will definitely be running, but he could do with a significant rain shower or two as well, while it's a concern for Estimate backers that this is her first run of the season.
Again, like last year, I'm drawn to the claims of the German raider ALTANO and at 14/1 he appeals even allowing for the possibility of a Rule 4.
Watching the replay of last year's race gives me nightmares as Eduardo Pedroza had his own out on the track. He gave his mount far too much to do before flying home for fifth when The Queen was already grinning from ear to ear thanks to Estimate's success.
To be fair to Pedroza, he hasn't done much wrong on the horse since, winning the Prix du Cadran in soft ground from Tac De Boistron (no mean feat), before landing a Group Three in Germany on his seasonal reappearance.
In between those efforts he was well beaten over two miles in the Prix Royal Oak, but he was outpaced that day and he's one of the few horses in the field that actually needs two-and-a-half miles to show his best.
In an ideal world there would be a bit of cut in the ground for him too, as he doesn't do anything quickly. But the race looks sure to be run to suit with plenty of pace in there and he does act on the ground as he showed in last year's race.
Pedroza, having learnt from last year's mistake, will surely sit closer to the pace this year and given his forte is his stamina he looks a much bigger threat to the favourite than odds of 14/1 imply.
Thursday's big-field handicap over the straight course is the Britannia Stakes over a mile and LYN VALLEY looks a huge price at 40/1 to strike for Mark Johnston and Frankie Dettori.
I was with the Shamardal colt when he ran down the field at Haydock but soft ground was a legitimate excuse that day and he's since put in a much improved run on better ground when fifth over ten furlongs at Epsom.
He hit the front with a quarter-of-a-mile to go that day before his stamina gave way in the closing stages.
Still, he finished a close fifth, giving weight to everything that finished in front of him and in time trying to give weight to a horse like What About Carlo could be seen as a very game effort indeed.
All season he's looked like he's needed a flat out end-to-end gallop over a mile and I fancy him to outrun his price in a big way.
I also want to be with COMPLICIT at 40/1.
Paul Cole's horse has some good form to his name and might be underestimated off a mark of 95 on his first go in a handicap.
He ran really well over seven furlongs in a Listed contest at Newmarket last time, staying on for a never-nearer two lengths fifth - suggesting a step up to a mile will bring about improvement.
He's also a half-brother to the classy Rainfall, who was placed in the Group One Falmouth Stakes and the Sun Chariot over a mile, while she also won twice from three starts at Ascot.
Complicit won on his only start over a mile at Deauville and can put in another bold show returned to the distance at big odds.
In the closing King George V Handicap Mark Johnston's horses have to be respected given his supreme record in the race and out of his quartet STARS OVER THE SEA makes most appeal at 28/1.
The Sea The Stars colt was just behind Lyn Valley in that aforementioned Epsom handicap and he was a real eyecatcher in that race, starting really slowly and being outpaced before staying on.
He has tried 12 furlongs on soft ground at Chester, but I'm really looking forward to seeing him try the distance on a conventional track on a sounder surface.
He's a half-brother to Jupiter Storm who has won three times over a mile and a half and I expect him to improve in a major way at the trip.
A saver is recommended on WINDSHEAR who is a solid option at 9/1.
Richard Hannon's charge ran in a very good race behind Cannock Chase at Newbury and is also expected to improve plenty for the step up to a mile and a half.
He's related to Porcini who is a really strong stayer and out of the market leaders he is the one that makes most appeal.
1pt win Altano in 4.25 Ascot at 14/1
0.75pts e.w Lyn Valley in 5.00 Ascot at 40/1
0.75pts e.w Complicit in 5.00 Ascot at 40/1
1pt e.w Stars Over The Sea in 5.35 Ascot at 28/1
1pt win Windshear in 5.35 Ascot at 9/1
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: +240.81pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).