Ben Linfoot hit the mark with Sir Ivan at Wincanton last weekend and he has four Value Bet selections at Warwick and Kempton on Saturday.
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The McCoy Contractors Civil Engineering Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick has recently thrown up a Grand National winner in One For Arthur and it could well do again this Saturday.
Le Breuil heads the weights for Ben Pauling in this year’s renewal and he took to the Aintree fences well last time out before tiring into seventh as his stable emerged from a gloomy period.
Dropped a couple of pounds to 148, he could well enhance his Grand National credentials this weekend under 7lb claimer Luca Morgan but there’s not a lot of juice in his price at 15/2.
He’s worth watching with Aintree in mind and tracking The Conditional’s rapid progress is another intriguing layer to this race, too, but he’s 4/1 favourite and this contest is traditionally tough to solve.
No favourite has won in the last decade and in that time we’ve had 10/1, 12/1, 14/1, 14/1 and 20/1 winners, so the sharpness of the track and its tough jumping test can find out the previously upwardly mobile horses.
It’s worth digging a bit deeper and in CAPTAIN CHAOS (16/1 General) we have a bit of a quirky horse, a bit of a thinker, that has an in and out profile and a losing streak of 11 to overcome.
However, on bits and pieces of form he has a good chance off 134 on Saturday and the key angle to him is the returning blinkers as they tend to bring the best out in him.
He won a novice chase in first-time blinkers by 19 lengths, while seven of his best 11 career performances (according to Racing Post Ratings) have come in that particular headgear – and he’s only worn them eight times.
Two starts ago first-time cheekpieces perked him up and he ran Takingrisks close in a hot renewal of the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle, his finishing effort suggesting he might well enjoy an even more severe test of stamina.
He finished ahead of northern stalwarts Top Ville Ben, Jonniesofa and Lake View Lad, so it was a proper race and a real return to form after a couple of poor runs to start the season.
In the Welsh National he couldn’t back it up, but with the blinkers back on for the first time in five starts he might just spark again and I’m hoping the nature of the track will keep his mind on the job.
Local handler Dan Skelton has yet to win his nearest track’s feature race, but he has a superb record in this type of contest and his stable is in excellent form.
Keen on Royal runner
It’s been a tricky week for both the Queen and Nicky Henderson, but it could end well for them both when they combine with KEEN ON (7/1 Sky Bet, bet365) in the Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle earlier on the card.
Décor Irlandais sets the standard here and was really impressive at Catterick in December, but he takes on some unexposed sorts at Warwick including Keen On although Shan Blue and Harry Senior heading the betting.
However, those two haven’t achieved anything more than Keen On and he looks to have been underestimated in the market considering the promise of his victories at Sandown and Southwell in the first half of the season.
At Sandown in November he managed to beat Protektorat (now rated 139) on his hurdling debut, Dan Skelton’s horse having had four starts over timber at the time.
He’s proven himself a rapid improver since, finishing second to Mack The Man back at Sandown before his victory at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day which connections won back on appeal earlier this week.
Keen On’s only subsequent start came over 2m4f at Southwell and he relished the extra distance despite racing a touch keenly early on, travelling comfortably throughout and staying on really well.
He’s from a really nice family and is a half-brother to the Queen’s Close Touch, who Henderson trained to win an EBF Final by 12 lengths from Many Clouds.
I thought he should be two or three points shorter in the betting so 7s makes plenty of appeal.
Also at Warwick it could be worth chancing Mick Channon’s HOLD THE NOTE (10/1 Ladbrokes, Coral) in the Hampton Novices’ Chase at 1.50.
He’s got a bit to find with the market principals here but he’s only had two starts over fences and was jumping and galloping really well when taken out of the race after the 10th fence in a good novice handicap at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Travelling like he might go close at the time, even though it was some way out, the chances are his current rating underestimates him yet he’s priced up as if he is 10lb inferior to the rest.
He’s threatened to make up into a good horse ever since he was fourth in a hot bumper at Cheltenham in 2018 (finished amongst Master Debonair, Thyme Hill, Ribble Valley and McFabulous) and he could well prove it on Saturday.
Finally, TIGHT CALL (12/1 bet365, 10/1 General) can go well off a light weight in the Unibet Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle at Kempton (2.40).
This 2m5f trip looks absolutely ideal judging by his excellent second to Tedham over the same distance at Wincanton around this time last year and he’s back down to a similar mark now off 119.
He returned from a break at Market Rasen in October where he ran well for a long way before tiring late on and it’s reasonable to expect improvement from that run on Saturday.
Tim Vaughan has tinkered with his wind since and applied a first-time tongue strap, so if breathing was the issue he’s had plenty of assistance in that department.
The Market Rasen form has worked out well with the winner, Honest Vic, going in again, the second, Skandiburg, has won twice since at Aintree and Cheltenham and the third, Anytime Will Do, ran well at Newbury.
Tight Call is likely to be prominent here, perhaps just sitting off the lead set by Burrows Park and Vive Le Roi, and things could pan out nicely for him.
If the ground is more testing than the current description of good to soft confidence would wane, but I still think any double-figure odds are fair in a race that cut up at the final declaration stage.
Posted at 1700 GMT on 10/01/20
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 and Ireland. Running total: +369.39pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
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