Ben Linfoot has had a great week at Royal Ascot after 12/1, 16/1 and 18/1 winners and he bids to finish the meeting on a high on Saturday including in the Wokingham.
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It’s very rare we get a 4/1 favourite for a handicap as competitive as the Wokingham, but that’s exactly what we’ve got this year with John Gosden’s Dreamfield heading the betting at that price for Godolphin.
The unbeaten Oasis Dream colt missed his three-year-old campaign due to injury but was talked of as a Commonwealth Cup possible and the patience of connections seems to have resulted in them having a very well-handicapped four-year-old on their hands.
That’s certainly the impression he gave when hosing up at Ascot on his first start for 569 days on May 11, as he made all easily under James Doyle to register a cosy one-and-a-quarter length success at odds of 10/11.
The handicapper came up with an 8lb rise to 103, but the second horse, Silent Echo, has won twice subsequently at Windsor and, under a 5lb penalty, actually finds himself 2lb worse off with the favourite for that Ascot defeat.
Dreamfield could be thrown in, then. With the course and distance form under his belt and no ground concerns, he’s got rock-solid credentials as well as a July Cup entry and there’s no wonder his presence casts a shadow over the rest of the field.
The one thing punters looking for something at a bigger price have to cling to is the potential bounce factor and, though it might be clutching at straws, I’m banging that drum as at least his market dominance means you can back anything else you like at 16/1 and bigger.
One each-way bet will suffice as I fear this Gosden good thing obliging, but in a normal year I’d be very taken with the claims of Richard Hannon’s TUPI and at 16/1 (General ¼ 1,2,3,4 – shop around for your suitable place terms, Sky Bet are paying a remarkable SEVEN places at 1/5 the odds) he’s worth a win and place wager.
Rated 114 in his pomp when he won a Listed race over a mile by almost three lengths, Tupi has only dipped his toe into handicaps sporadically the last few years as he normally operates at a higher level.
Last season he peaked at Doncaster in April, where he won a Listed race over six furlongs by four lengths, and at Deauville in August, where he was a good third behind Brando in the Group One Prix Maurice de Gheest.
Those were excellent performances that show he’s well capable of competing off a mark of 100 in a handicap if he’s at his peak – and coming in here fresh suggests he might well be.
He nearly always runs well after a break and he’s dropped 9lb to that mark of a 100 since he last raced in this country thanks to three runs in Meydan at the start of the year.
The six-year-old is yet to get close to winning a race over there in two visits, though, but the last time he returned from Dubai was when he won the Cammidge Trophy by four lengths on Town Moor.
Ryan Moore was on him that day and he’s back on him Saturday, too, obviously an encouraging sign and one that suggests this is what they’ve been waiting for since he arrived back from Meydan with a reduced handicap mark.
He’s absolutely fine on Good to Firm ground having won on such conditions twice and he likes Ascot, too, finishing a close-up fourth in a Jersey Stakes while he wasn’t beaten far in sixth in last season’s Diamond Jubilee.
That effort suggests a big-field handicap at this course will suit him perfectly and Moore will likely hold him up from his central draw, with the plan to come through horses with a withering late run.
He has disappointed in this race before, but he was 9lb higher then and it was his fourth run of the season, so coming in here fresh off a rating of 100 can see him go much better and he could well be the one to give the hot favourite most to think about.
In the Diamond Jubilee Harry Angel heads the betting as he’s the best sprinter in the race on all known form but he looks an uneasy jolly at around 11/4.
Not only is he zero from four at Ascot but Clive Cox’s horses are just struggling for form as well and, given the level of opposition, he’s worth taking on.
Merchant Navy and Redkirk Warrior are the most obvious alternatives but the one that looks a big price is Stephane Wattel’s CITY LIGHT at 16/1 (Betfair, Paddy Power).
He’s massively improved from three to four and is unbeaten this year, winning over six furlongs at Chantilly and Lingfield before successfully dropping to five at Longchamp last time.
He cruised around Lingfield and beat a speedy horse in Kachy very easily, while he was just as impressive in the Group Three Prix de Saint-Georges last time with subsequent Achilles Stakes winner Muthmir back in fourth.
He’ll have to improve again to win this, but the ease in which he’s been doing things this year suggests he can and I think he’ll be fully effective at Ascot given his all-weather form and his breeding.
His sire, Siyouni, has a good record from a small sample at Royal Ascot, his progeny two from seven at the meeting thanks to 2015 Coronation Stakes winner Ervedya and last year’s Jersey hero Le Brivido.
Finsbury Square is responsible for two of the defeats, but he ran well in last year’s Diamond Jubilee and this year’s King’s Stand, so there’s every chance City Light will appreciate the surface.
A thriving sprinter in terrific form, there’s plenty to like about his chance at the prices.
More French fancies
Earlier on, the Windsor Castle the market revolves around Wesley Ward’s Moonlight Romance, the general 5/1 favourite, and that’s an understandable price.
Ward has won this race twice before and Moonlight Romance followed home Thursday’s Norfolk Stakes winner Shang Shang Shang at Keeneland in April before winning by over five lengths at Belmont Park last month.
She could well justify favouritism, but if the market has underestimated an overseas raider or two I think it’s the pair that Matthieu Palussiere runs and at 18/1 (bet365) and 28/1 (General) respectively, both his JUNIUS BRUTUS and ROLLING KING are worth a bet.
Palussiere won the Albany last year with Different League, his Forever In Dreams ran well in the Queen Mary on Wednesday and he’s had 20 individual juvenile winners in France this season.
On top of that his Show Must Go On was a head second to Norfolk Stakes runner-up Pocket Dynamo at Longchamp last month and that Reply colt didn’t make his Royal Ascot squad, so he has strength in depth among a talented team of two-year-olds.
Junius Brutus was purchased by King Power Racing for £300,000 at Goffs on Monday, and while their other purchases from that sale have barely beaten a rival this week (Vintage Brut and Main Street) the rot could well stop with this talented son of Cockney Rebel.
It’s hard to quantify the form, as it is with many of these two-year-olds, but he showed raw speed to win by five lengths both times he’s run and the runner-up from Maisons’Laffitte, La Feve, didn’t run to a bad level of form next time out in a £40,000 race at Chantilly where she was fourth behind two more of Palussiere’s.
One of those was Rolling King and he’s really interesting at a massive price for the same connections that orchestrated that Albany coup with Different League a year ago.
An easy two-length winner over five furlongs at Chantilly on debut (from two stablemates in the same colours), he lost out to another stablemate in Trois Mats at the same track last time over six furlongs on soft ground.
Sent off odds-on favourite for that race, he moved through the race like much the best horse and just seemed to be outstayed in the closing stages.
Dropping back to five furlongs on quick ground looks ideal for this More Than Ready colt with a speedy American pedigree and 28/1 seems to underestimate his chance.
Posted at 1700 BST on 22/06/18.
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: +371.34pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).