Ben Linfoot bids to follow up last weekend's 16/1 winner Escobar and he has four Value Bet selections at Cheltenham, Doncaster and Newbury on Saturday.
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There is plenty of rain forecast around the country heading into Saturday, which will suit the jumpers more than the flat horses, so we’ll start with the return of Cheltenham who began their season with the first day of the Showcase meeting on Friday.
The ground didn’t look too bad, officially good to soft, but with up to 18mm of rain forecast before Saturday’s card conditions are likely to turn testing.
In the opening ‘Matchbook Betting Exchange’ Handicap Chase over 3m1f the weather could place an extra emphasis on stamina, especially when you consider there is plenty of natural pace to take them along with Cogry, Rocky’s Treasure, Red Infantry, Cobra De Mai and The Young Master in the field.
With that in mind Caroline Bailey’s strong stayer CROSSPARK could get into things and at 20/1 (General) he’s worth backing to defy a career-high mark.
A rating of 146 asks a new question of him at the start of this campaign, as he rose 22lb in the handicap last year, but his best two efforts were his last two in the Eider Chase and the Scottish Grand National, winning the former and finishing second in the latter.
They were runs that very much suggested he’s still improving and it’s clear that a test of stamina suits him well given they were both over four miles. He settles and jumps well, too, and I see no reason why he can’t hold his own off his new mark – especially when his proven stamina comes to the fore.
That could well be on Saturday, as we know he handles softer ground (won at Leicester on heavy) and we know he can go well fresh as he won first time out last season at Uttoxeter by 16 lengths.
It’s a really competitive race, but, considering this could turn into a real slog he’s the one I want on side at the prices.
The rest of the card is just as competitive including the Randox Health Handicap Chase at 3.10 where Saint Calvados heads the weights on the back of a break and wind surgery.
He could win this easily on the pick of his novice form, and we know he won’t mind any amount of rain, but he does seem at his best dominating small fields and the likes of Gino Trail and McGroarty could keep him honest on the front end here.
A decent pace over two miles brings DUKE OF NAVAN into things and at 10/1 (General) he’s worth backing to go one place better than last year.
12 months ago he travelled into this race beautifully off an identical mark of 144, looking the likely winner when he traded at 1.33 in-running on Betfair, only to get done up the hill by Modus who prevailed by a head.
That was his first run of the season and it’s not the first time he’s run well fresh, so now could well be the time to catch him and he’s another one that won’t mind the rain as the bulk of his best form is on soft.
On the pick of his performances last season he showed that his advancing years haven’t affected him form-wise, and there’s every chance he can crown his career with a win at the home of jumps racing.
Up at Doncaster it’s the final Group One of the UK Flat season as Andrew Balding’s Kameko takes on a quintet of horses from Ballydoyle, but it’s the handicaps that appeal from a betting perspective if the meeting gets the go ahead.
With the ground already heavy and lots of rain forecast a 7.30 inspection has been called, but if we do race on Town Moor I want PRINCES DES SABLES in Saturday’s betting ledger at 20/1 (General) in the Vertem Very Different Stockbrokers Handicap at 4.00.
This is clearly wide open and Tarboosh and Came From The Dark have solid claims, but both have been well found in the market and there’s a chance Princes Des Sables will improve for the drop to the minimum trip.
The daughter of Monsieur Bond usually races over six, but she’s shown plenty of speed in several of her runs including in wins at Hamilton and Haydock, as well as in defeat at Pontefract two starts ago.
She paid the price for trying to head Dakota Gold in a Listed race at York last time, so she’s well worth forgiving that run and I like her stands’ rail draw in 19.
Three-year-olds have a good record in this race, winning four of the last 10 renewals despite just an 18 per cent representation, while Monsieur Bond progeny have a near 20 per cent strike-rate at Doncaster in October.
Princes Des Sables has already won in testing ground at Hamilton and her proven stamina for six could be useful in the conditions.
Finally, there’s an inspection at Newbury as well but if that card gets the go ahead I want MANUELA DE VEGA on side at 9/1 (General) in the Teddington RBL Poppy Appeal Stakes (St Simon Stakes) at 2.20.
The Lope De Vega filly has never run on testing ground but it could be the making of her as her sire’s progeny have a good record on heavy (14 per cent win strike-rate).
She’s been in good form on faster ground on her last two runs, chasing home Sir Ron Priestley and Sextant, but on more testing conditions getting plenty of weight from her rivals we could see a career best effort.
The three-year-old gets at least 9lb from everything in the race and she gets 12lb from Morando and Royal Line, so her featherweight of 8st-9lb could be a great leveller in the conditions.
With the Ralph Beckett yard in tremendous form (won eight from their last 23 at 35 per cent) this full-sister to the same stable’s Isabel De Urbina (career-best on soft) could well belatedly get off the mark for the campaign.
Posted at 1700 BST on 25/10/19
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: +355.39pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
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