Ben Linfoot seeks out the value on day two of the Winter Carnival at Newbury on Saturday and he's backing one each-way in the Ladbrokes Trophy.
Recommended bets: Saturday December 1
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With only 13 runners and no established Gold Cup types at the top of the weights, the Ladbrokes Trophy has a very different look to it this year.
It's chock-a-block with your typical Hennessy horses and those second-season novices have all found themselves towards the top of the market as the race has cut up over the last few weeks.
Thomas Patrick, Elegant Escape, Ms Parfois, Dingo Dollar and Black Corton all fit the bill, but their prices have contracted to such an extent that I don’t think there’s much value in backing any of them now.
Of the quintet I prefer Dingo Dollar, as he had a lovely spin around here over hurdles in a Pertemps qualifier and that should’ve put him spot on fitness-wise for a trainer that knows what it takes to win this race.
However, soft ground in the heat of a big-field handicap does ask a new question of him and at around 7/1 all of the juice looks to have been squeezed out of his odds.
There is a bet to be had, though, especially with most bookies offering four places at 1/5 the odds on each-way bets just because it’s, well, because it’s the Hennessy.
And for me that bet is FLYING ANGEL at 20/1 (General 1/5 1,2,3,4), a horse that is flying under the radar despite a massively-improved performance in a first-time visor at Ascot last week.
That run gives him an excellent chance and a much better one than his odds imply, as he wasn’t far off his peak form after being the best horse at the weights in that contest by some distance.
He raced with his old enthusiasm and jumped well, not quite having the pace of the winner but faring much the best of the rest, pulling 11 lengths clear of the third and fourth with another nine lengths back to the fifth.
That was over 2m5f on good ground, but he will relish the softer underfoot conditions on Saturday (more rain is forecast) and more of a concern is the trip, as he’s been well beaten twice over three miles and this is the furthest he’s ever gone.
It’s worth remembering, though, that his two previous runs over three miles came just before he had wind surgery and that they were in a Grade Two and a handicap off 152, as well, so he’s well worth another chance over the distance.
On his last few runs he’s certainly shaped like he wants further, so it’s no wonder Nigel Twiston-Davies is rolling the dice now he’s found himself running off a lenient handicap mark.
Officially 4lb well-in after being reassessed to 146 on Tuesday, he’s fully 15lb lower than his best-ever rating over fences and it’s not that long ago he was a Grade One winner at Aintree in the 2017 Manifesto Novices’ Chase.
If the visor works again and this doesn’t come too quick for him, he has the class to play a big part on his first return to Newbury since he was third in Agrapart’s Betfair Hurdle back in 2016.
Elsewhere at Newbury, ROCK ON ROCKY looks to have been underestimated at 16/1 (Betfred, Boylesports) in the Ladbrokes In Memory Of Tara Von Ihering Handicap Chase at 3.35.
The four horses at the top of the weights are likely to dominate the betting but they do have to give plenty of weight to Rock On Rocky who loves this course and distance.
A clear second in this race last year, he went one better back at this track on soft ground in March when he won by 11 lengths from Imperial Presence, a horse that won his next three (rising from 128 to 150 in the weights in the process).
It looks really good form and is solid evidence that Rock On Rocky is at his best around here.
A winner at Ludlow after that off a mark of 130, Rock On Rocky has dropped 10lb in three races this season and now runs off a mark 1lb lower than his last winning one of 129.
His last run at Cheltenham was promising, as he led until a mistake three out and stuck on nicely enough for fourth after that.
Back at Newbury off a low weight on ground he likes, he's a big price to topple the fancied horses.
Earlier on the card, LE MUSEE might've been a tad underestimated at 20/1 (General) in the Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle at 1.50.
This horse won a maiden hurdle easily when stepped up to 2m3f in soft ground at Taunton in March and the six-length second, Vodka All The Way, franked that form when winning at Exeter after that.
It looked like that could be the springboard for better things at the time, but he’s been beaten twice at Cheltenham since then without looking like he acted on the track on either occasion.
The good thing is he looks handicapped to have a say off a mark of 120 now he runs on more suitable conditions, as Vodka All The Way is considered a 125 horse now and he brushed him aside without fuss.
Trainer Nigel Hawke turns to first-time cheekpieces in a bid to sharpen him up a bit and if they have the desired effect he could outrun his odds in a big way.
Finally, BISHOPS ROAD (9/1 General) looks the one to be on in the BetVictor Rehearsal Chase up at Newcastle.
Kerry Lee’s horse was a big eyecatcher at Haydock last Saturday when he was second to Red Infantry, a mistake at the last ending his hopes of victory after he had looked a live threat to the winner all the way up the straight.
The ground was lively enough for him at Haydock but the rain at Newcastle this week means that conditions have turned in his favour and he’s handicapped to win after going up just 2lb on Tuesday.
Fourth and second in this race the last two years off marks of 154 and 144 respectively, he runs off 137 on Saturday and that gives him a fine chance of winning this race for the first time and, indeed, a race of any kind for the first time in 15 starts.
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: +336.49pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
Posted at 1700 GMT on 30/11/18.