Our racing expert has three Value Bet selections for Saturday's racing, including a two-pronged attack on the Ayr Gold Cup.
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The William Hill Ayr Gold Cup has a strong favourite this year in Buffer Zone, who could well be the answer following his victory at the Curragh last Sunday.
He's 3lb well in on the back of that win and has obvious claims, while the third home, Gulliver, is aiming to reverse that form and he could well do following his strong finish in Ireland after a few traffic problems.
Gulliver looks short enough now at 8/1, as he’s stayed on well late in proceedings before only to run cold next time, while Buffer Zone has to prove he can back up quickly in his toughest assignment yet.
I’m happy to take on the market leaders in what looks an open renewal, made more so by the fact that determining where the likely pace will come from - always key in piecing this jigsaw together - is not exactly straightforward.
Low numbers on the far side were favoured in the draw and there are a few prominent racers over there, notably Justanotherbottle, Hey Jonesy and Louie De Palma.
However, the near side is not lacking in horses that should tow the group along either, with Major Jumbo and Angel Alexander a couple of the more obvious pace angles.
With that in mind I’m not going to get too hung up on where they break from, although a stands’ rail draw in 25 might not be an issue for BACCHUS who looks a big price at 25/1 (General).
He's been overlooked in the betting because of his Wokingham run last time out, where he finished 22nd, but it’s not as bad as it sounds.
Two furlongs from home he was still in there with a shout, but he couldn’t go with them when things got serious and Jim Crowley went easy on him late on after all chance of snaffling any prize money had gone.
That wasn’t a going day and he’s a bit of an in and out character, so catching him right is vital and the reintroduction of cheekpieces might just wake him up sufficiently.
He won a strong Newbury handicap in first-time cheekpieces back in April 2017, while he also won at Newmarket the first time they were left off after five runs with the headgear on.
A headgear switch looks a positive for him, then, and after seven runs without any equipment it’s interesting to see the reintroduction of the sheepskin for what is just his second assignment of the campaign.
We know he loves this sort of test after a couple of big-field handicap successes that include the 2018 Wokingham, a race he won off a mark of 105 – just 1lb lower than the rating he races off this Saturday.
And an interesting side note is that his sire, Kheleyf, is responsible for two Ayr Gold Cup winners – Captain Ramius and Baron Bolt – while his Mass Rally won the Silver Cup as well.
I am a bit concerned that he’s only had one run this year, but at 25s we’ll chance him and add another selection in the same race in the form of GOOD EFFORT who is available at 20/1 (General).
He’s had four runs this season in the UK, while he ran three times at Meydan, too, so he’s well in the groove and he’s drawn centrally in 15 so Paul Mulrennan has options in regards to track position.
The thing that I like about him is that he’s so unexposed at the trip.
In fact, his two-length victory over six furlongs at Newmarket two starts ago, off a mark of 92, was his first ever go at the distance on his 13th run and he travelled through the contest very well, easily beating good yardstick Count Otto who is a line to quite a few of these.
It was no surprise to see Ismail Mohammed take him back to the same course and distance for a Listed race after that, but he was bumped a few times in the first furlong and was lit up due to the barging.
Too keen to do himself justice, he’s well worth another chance and this big-field scenario at this trip could suit him very well indeed.
Though his victory came in a small field, it’s worth noting that he travelled very strongly in the 23-runner Moet & Chandon International Stakes at Ascot in July, only to weaken in the seventh and final furlong.
In the consolation race I was less keen to take on Alkaraama and Lahore so we’ll head to Newbury for the day’s other bet and the Dubai Duty Free Handicap over 10 furlongs at 3.30.
John Gosden’s Forest Of Dean will be a strong favourite for this race as he’s looked in great nick since his mini break, winning at Goodwood and York in the style of a horse that will be running in pattern company soon.
He’s 5lb well in here under a penalty, but it does niggle at me that he was beaten off a 12lb lower mark in handicap company over this course and distance only three starts ago in May.
That was an admittedly hot race, and it is only a niggle, but it’s just enough to encourage an each-way bet against him and I really like the look of GIBBS HILL at 16/1 (BetVictor 1/5 1,2,3,4) now he drops in trip to 10 furlongs.
The son of Mastercraftsman has had his problems after missing the best part of two years before being pulled up in the Northumberland Plate on his return, but his last two runs have been really encouraging.
Both over 1m4f, he travelled into things nicely at York where he was matched at 3.45 in-running on Betfair before finishing fourth, while he traded much shorter last time at Kempton, where he hit an in-running low of 1.25, remarkably, despite finishing eighth.
That was because he came from the rear, out wide, to hit the front inside the final two furlongs, but he challenged too soon and was swamped by the closers inside the final furlong.
It was another really encouraging effort, however, in a high quality Group Three, and this drop back to handicap company over 10 furlongs can see him take another step forward.
He certainly looks to have the gears for this assignment and his proven stamina over further could well stand him in good stead when the chips are down late in the contest.
There looks to be a good amount of pace in the race with Oasis Prince, Johnny Drama, Victory Command and Rise Hall all in there, and that would very much suit the likeable Gibbs Hill, who will probably be held up by Andrea Atzeni.
Posted at 1700 BST on 20/09/19
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: +355.19pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
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