Ben Linfoot seeks out the value in the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup and he's taking two against the field, while he has two other bets on the undercard.
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It’s been a fine year for Roger Fell who is approaching 50 winners for the campaign and his season has been defined by the pot-hunting exploits of Burnt Sugar, a horse that has landed two massive handicaps in the Bunbury Cup and Gigaset International Stakes.
They're two firm pieces of evidence the yard can ready one for a big pot and I reckon the same stable’s MUNTADAB will be primed and ready to run a big race in the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup at 16/1 (General) on Saturday.
He’s been backed from bigger prices this week but there’s still juice in his Friday night odds as the ground looked really testing at Ayr on day two of the Western Meeting, and I love that he’s a strong, grinding, prominent racer that stays further.
The son of Invincible Spirit loves testing conditions and has won over seven furlongs on soft three times, twice off marks in the 90s, and he even acquitted himself well over a mile on ‘Haydock heavy’ this time last year.
I think that’s the sort of stamina reserves you might need in Ayrshire this weekend and he’s been running consistently well all season, as evidenced by his handicap mark remaining the same, despite not winning or getting his optimum conditions.
Even last time, when eventually well beaten at Chester, he was in front just before the furlong marker over seven-and-a-half-furlongs and Tony Hamilton eased him home on the inside once he was headed.
He didn’t have a hard race and he comes into this relatively fresh after just six runs this year – further evidence that Fell has had his eye on an autumn campaign for him.
And this is his time of year. In 2016 he won on his second start for the Fell yard at Doncaster in October (after finishing midfield in the Ayr Silver Cup having being drawn out of contention), while last year he won twice after the schools went back including in Scotland (at Musselburgh) off a mark of 97.
Running off 100 here, he remains fairly handicapped now he encounters the mud again and if he gets into a nice rhythm up the middle under Hamilton he could well prove hard to pass in the closing stages.
Son Of Rest is the one to beat after his second in the Group One Flying Five in Ireland last weekend. He’s 10lb well in and loves soft ground, but his price has gone now and at 11/2 all the value has very much been squeezed out of him.
Golden Apollo and Get Knotted were on the shortlist as they stay further, handle the conditions and look fairly handicapped, while I thought the race might be run to suit Naadirr who can start slowly but might be finishing best of all if they go hell-for-leather on the far side.
Looking at the likely pace, middle to far side might well be the place to be and with that in mind it’s the 33/1 (888Sport, 28s Betfred, 25s General) about UPSTAGING that I can’t resist for the second selection.
Paul Cole’s horse is 4lb wrong and if he were allotted his correct mark he’d actually be running in the consolation race, but as it is he sneaks in off bottom weight in the feature and his current odds underestimate his chance.
A son of Mount Nelson, he's another that will relish the conditions having run well on each occasion he’s encountered soft, including in last year’s Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood where he ran a blinder in third off a mark of 100.
He finished well that day to be beaten less than a length, so the Ayr Gold Cup test really should suit and Cole reapplies the blinkers (as well as a first-time tongue-tie), headgear he’s won in and run well in in the past.
Last time, at Ascot, he ran well beaten just two lengths in seventh and it looked a clear sign that he’s returning to peak form just in time for a potentially fruitful autumn campaign considering his preference for a bit of give.
His jockey Conor McGovern helps the weight situation with his 3lb claim and given he’s drawn around the pace he’s worth chancing at big odds.
Earlier on in the William Hill Silver Cup I like the look of BENGALI BOYS at 20/1 (BetVictor, Coral) now he encounters his preferred soft ground conditions once again.
The son of Clodovil has an exaggerated soft-ground action and he absolutely bolted up in last year’s Weatherbys Super Sprint on such conditions, looking every inch a group horse on that type of ground.
Rated 105 after that, he’s not added to that win in six goes since but he’s dropped back down to 97 now and he hasn’t run badly all season, including when a close second off a mark of 101 on the Newcastle Tapeta back in March.
That he’s run just three times since then tells you he’s been saved for the backend of the season and he was entitled to be rusty last time on his first run for two months and since being gelded.
He should be ready for this now and his top weight status is less of a concern due to a) Seb Woods’ 5lb claim and b) the fact there is just 9lb separating the whole field.
Finally, SALT WHISTLE BAY looks underestimated at 25/1 (BetVictor, Boylesports) in the William Hill Supporting The Fight Against Parkinson’s Handicap (2.00).
This horse was good enough to beat Ripp Orf off levels (on soft) at Yarmouth back in May and while that dual-Ascot winner is now rated 97, Salt Whistle Bay remains 10lb lower.
That’s in part due to not beating a rival in his last two races, but he struggled after losing a shoe on firm ground back at Yarmouth after his victory there and it could be he needs soft ground to produce his best now.
All of his wins have come when there has been a bit of cut, so it could be worth dismissing his ropey recent form figures and concentrating on his excellent efforts in similar conditions to those that he’ll face on Saturday.
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).
Posted at 1700 BST on 21/09/18.