Value Bet: Eagle to soar

  • By: Ben Linfoot
  • Last Updated: July 11 2014, 17:02 BST

Ben Linfoot is taking two against the field in the feature at Newmarket while he makes Zain Eagle the Value Bet in the John Smith's Cup.

Gregorian: Worth chancing at Newmarket
Gregorian: Worth chancing at Newmarket

With 10 live races on Channel 4 and top-quality action all around the country, it's hard to know where to look first in search of some Saturday value.

The terrestrial TV programme builds up to the exciting climax that is the Group One Darley July Cup, so, in a move that will baffle fans of chronological order, we'll start with the last of the live races where Slade Power heads the betting.

He's clearly got a very good chance of following up his Diamond Jubilee success, with the rain that fell heavily on Thursday night of no hindrance to him whatsoever.

At a general 5/2 he will appeal to many, as he does have the best form in the race, but he was beaten into third in this contest last year and a slight tendency to edge left under pressure could cost him in the closing stages.

Perhaps that's being a bit picky, but I don't think he's been underestimated by the market relative to his overall profile and there are a couple at bigger prices that aren't far behind him on bits and pieces of form.

Firstly, GREGORIAN looks a decent bet at 20/1 with plenty in his favour.

He might not have been an obvious one for this trip earlier in his career, but he's excelled when the emphasis has been on speed in his races over the last year, with his last two victories coming over seven furlongs.

The first of those was in a small field at Newbury where he beat a high-class rival in Soft Falling Rain, while last time he was a comfortable winner of the Criterion Stakes on a rain-soaked July Course.

He has form over a mile that ties him in closely with Aljamaaheer - he was half-a-length behind him in last year's Queen Anne Stakes - but he's twice the price of that rival despite the ground turning in his favour.

Of course, he hasn't proven he has the speed for this trip at all, never mind in Group One company. But that is still reflected in his price, while his proven stamina, his ability to act on the ground and at this track means there is plenty in his favour.

Drawn in two, he should get a decent tow into the race from Astaire on the stands' side.

I was toying with the idea of backing him each-way but with just three places to fight for I'd rather split stakes on him and JACK DEXTER at 25/1.

Jim Goldie's charge has taken a while to warm up this campaign, but it was the same last season and he got better as the year went on as is evidenced by his runs in the autumn.

The standout piece of form was his second to Slade Power in the Champions Sprint at Ascot, where he was beaten by just a quarter of a length in soft ground - on that form alone he looks a big price here.

He was beaten a couple of times under his favoured conditions earlier in the season, but I don't think he was quite right then and he put in a couple of much improved performances at Royal Ascot, when beaten in the King's Stand and the Diamond Jubilee.

Almost seven lengths to make up on Slade Power may seem a lot, but he was somewhat marooned out on his own towards the stands' side and ran on well to close on the leaders late on.

With Hot Streak and Slade Power to follow up the centre of the track, he's going to be involved in the action from an earlier stage and the combination of stiff finish and softer ground will play to his strengths.

Prices over 20/1 are worth taking, as he has often looked like he is capable of landing a Group One sprint when conditions are in his favour.

Earlier on the card, the market for the 666bet Bunbury Cup could well have a very different look to it come post time as Horsted Keynes could well be pulled out unless the ground dries out significantly.

His absence would make this race an even more wide-open affair as he's the obviously progressive one in a race which is lacking horses with such profiles.

The draw could be less of a factor than usual if the race is decimated by non-runners, but there's a bit of pace over on the far side and that will suit HOODNA who steps up in trip to seven for the first time.

The Godolphin filly was beaten in a conditions race when an odds-on favourite last time, but she was keen that day and the winner, Remember, boosted the form when running well in a handicap on Friday.

Previously she was narrowly beaten off 4lb lower in a six-furlong handicap on the July Course, but she battled on bravely that day and that offers hope she'll thrive over seven.

By Invincible Spirit out of a Giant's Causeway mare, her breeding would suggest she's capable of improving for the trip. In fact, her dam, Heaven's Cause, was a Listed winner over a mile at Deauville in soft ground.

A capable performer from limited evidence on soft ground herself, the combination of ground and trip could well bring about a career-best performance from Hoodna and she's worth chancing at 20/1.

Best Of Order could go well from the other side of the draw, being a son of Pivotal that excels on soft ground. However, the big prices about him have gone and I'd rather back the consistent Hoodna each-way.

Up at York, the one I like in the John Smith's Cup is ZAIN EAGLE at 20/1.

This horse easily won a handicap at Doncaster's St Leger meeting last September off a mark of 85 in the style of a useful tool, but he disappointed on his two subsequent starts on turf.

He was one of the horses administered Sungate by Gerard Butler and has subsequently moved to Robert Cowell following his previous trainer's ban. However, he doesn't need any extra help judging by his reappearance run.

Over a trip that stretched his stamina at Kempton, he was still leading entering the final furlong but had to settle for fourth after fading late on.

Cowell said that run was to 'blow the cobwebs away' and if he can improve from it as looks likely, he should run a big race at his optimum trip from a good draw.

Selections:
1pt win Gregorian in 3.50 Newmarket
1pt win Jack Dexter in 3.50 Newmarket
1pt e.w. Hoodna in 3.15 Newmarket
1pt e.w. Zain Eagle in 2.55 York

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: +272.81pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).