Ben Linfoot seeks out the value from Sandown and Wincanton on Saturday and he has four bets at nice prices for the live ITV4 action.
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It’s difficult to try and assess what conditions will be like at Sandown once the frost covers are removed on Saturday morning, but given it was Good to Soft, Soft in places before they were deployed it’s reasonable to presume the ground will be pretty tough going despite the relative lack of rain for the time of year.
The Unibet Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle takes centre stage at 2.25, a fascinating renewal featuring the potential of Rathhill versus the solid form horse Elixir De Nutz, whose latest Cheltenham win was boosted emphatically by runner-up Jarveys Plate.
That race could reveal all sorts of clues for the Betfair Hurdle and Sky Bet Supreme Novices’, but the best betting race on the Sandown card is the Unibet Veterans’ Handicap Chase at 3.00 featuring 17 horses aged 11-plus including 15-year-old Pete The Feat.
He loves Sandown as does stablemate Loose Chips, but neither look especially well-handicapped now due to their consistent form in this series and they might well be vulnerable to something that’s better treated in this vets’ final.
The one that sticks out like a sore thumb is Lucy Wadham’s LE REVE and he’s well worth backing at 10/1 (Ladbrokes, BetVictor, Coral, Betfair Sportsbook).
This final has been running for three years now and 11-year-olds have won two renewals, while that age group finished second, third, fourth and fifth the time that then 13-year-old Pete The Feat won it.
I certainly think that those that have just qualified for this race have an edge and Le Reve fits into that category having only just turned 11, while he earned his place in this race on his return from a 571-day break at Warwick in December.
He shaped well in that contest despite finishing last of the three runners, but it’s fair to conclude that race was very much a stepping stone to this one considering his record at Sandown.
A winner over Saturday’s course and distance three times off marks off 128, 139 and 144, he runs this weekend off a rating of 135, so if that spin around Warwick has put him spot on for this he has a cracking chance.
There are plenty of dangers including Bishops Road, another that’s well handicapped on his best form and he’s another previous course winner. Two of his three chase wins have come in January, but his jumping will have to stand up around here and it didn’t last time.
Band Of Blood and Houblon Des Obeaux are others to consider, but the other one I can’t resist at the prices is Neil Mulholland’s HALO MOON at 40/1 (Betfair Sportsbook, Paddy Power - Paddy Power and Sky Bet are going 1/5 the odds 1,2,3,4,5,6).
Two of Mulholland’s biggest successes have come at Sandown thanks to Carole’s Destrier and The Young Master, and I reckon he’ll have had this race in mind for Halo Moon ever since he qualified for it at Doncaster way back in February last year.
Second to Band Of Bood in that contest off a mark of 122, he’s only 1lb higher on Saturday and he gets a 3lb pull with Dr Richard Newland’s charge for that three-and-a-half length defeat.
He worked his way into that race from off the pace and those are probably going to be Robert Dunne’s instructions at Sandown, especially with the likes of Loose Chips, Tenor Nivernais and Henllan Harri likely to set a sound gallop.
That should suit and judging by his three good runs at the beginning of 2018 he’s not a 40/1 chance, while his below-par performance on his only start since then is easily forgiven as the ground will have been lively enough for him at Ffos Las back in May.
His running style could easily see him run into a place and he might even land the jackpot, so back him each-way with the best place terms you can get.
Also at Sandown I’m going to chance ERAGON DE CHANAY bouncing back to form for Gary Moore in the 32Red.com Handicap Hurdle (3.35) at 12/1 (General).
There doesn’t look to be a lot between this field of seven on their best form but I’m not sure Eragon De Chanay should be the outsider of the lot considering he’s won two handicaps at the track off marks of 121 and 129 in three goes.
He’s off 135 on Saturday and he was still progressing well until his run at this track last time, where he finished well beaten in seventh despite having being sent off at 6/1 and being bang there three out.
However, he’s worth forgiving that for my money as he chased a really strong gallop on heavy ground and just looked legless late on, so if he’s ridden more efficiently here we could well see a very different outcome at a track he’s had success at in the past.
There’s televised action on ITV4 at Wincanton as well and GULSHANIGANS looks a bet at 11/1 (Ladbrokes, 10/1 General) in the Lengthen The Odds With BetVictor Handicap Hurdle at 2.40.
Local trainer Jack Barber has a good record at Wincanton having had two winners, two seconds and a third from 10 runners at his local course, with new recruit Gulshanigans filling the runner-up spot here on his stable debut last time.
That was his first run for 594 days and he shaped with bags of promise, coming from off the pace despite a moderate gallop on his first start since he was beaten by Beer Goggles in an Ayr handicap back in the April of 2017.
He’s entitled to improve plenty for that run and a 2lb rise may well underestimate him. Noel Fehily, one from one for the yard, is booked to do the steering and off a low weight he’s expected to run a big race.
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: +353.49pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
Posted at 1700 GMT on 04/01/19.