Ben Linfoot seeks out the value in the Challenge Cup Handicap at Ascot and the Redcar Two Year Old Trophy on Saturday afternoon.
Recommended Bets: Value Bet, Saturday October 6
For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record
There looks to be a significant band of rain sweeping through the south of England on Saturday afternoon with both Newmarket and Ascot set to be on the receiving end.
It's difficult to predict just how much it will get into the ground, but the Met Office is forecasting rain from 10am onwards at both tracks right through until after the last, so I'm working on the presumption there will be at least a bit of cut in the turf.
To be honest, very little appeals at Newmarket on Sun Chariot day anyway, but it’s the always-a-good-race Bet With Ascot Challenge Cup Handicap at (you guessed it) Ascot, won by Librisa Breeze and Accidental Agent the last two years.
The market leaders look worth taking on in this as Cape Byron has been nudged up 5lb for his last three starts despite not winning, Flaming Spear's trainer Dean Ivory hasn't had a winner in over a month and Il Primo Sole has a fair chunk of the John Gosden factor weaved into his odds.
I'm not sure Ripp Orf will be at his best if the rain gets into the ground, either, and the same comment applies to Raising Sand and Gilgamesh.
With a line pencilled through all of the above, I do think there is a horse that stands out in the market and he is FIRMAMENT at 14/1 (General 1/5 1,2,3,4,5), a six-year-old that has burnt the fingers of many a punter during a losing streak stretching back 24 races.
Of course, I have to acknowledge that he’s difficult to win with, he obviously is, but I do think the market has got his chance wrong on Saturday as a direct result of that losing sequence.
For starters, if we isolate the six best performances of his career (I’ve used Racing Post Ratings in this instance) then half of those have come over seven furlongs, at Ascot, when there has been some cut in the ground, including in this race two years ago when second off a 6lb higher mark.
It is fair, therefore, to come to the conclusion that on Saturday he will have his optimum conditions after three or four hours of rainfall, and that his handicap mark has dropped from 109 to 100 on the back of a series of defeats on faster ground and in plenty of instances away from Ascot.
On top of this, cheekpieces have inspired a run of consistent efforts in recent months. The headgear has definitely helped and four of his top five efforts this season (again using RPRs) have been in the sheepskin.
His very best run of 2018 came last time, at Chelmsford, over a mile, where he was in front a furlong from home despite running wide on the final bend.
That is adequate proof that he’s in great nick and he should get a nice tow into things on the far side on Saturday with Lake Volta and Il Primo Sole set to be up there forcing the gallop from the outset.
With question marks over plenty of those above him in the betting, especially if this rain arrives, he must have a fine chance of ending his long losing run and, certainly, at 14/1 and at 1/5 the odds with five places, he looks an excellent each-way bet.
Finally, it’s the Racing UK Two Year Old Trophy up at Redcar where the 12/1 (Bet Victor, Coral) about STRICT TEMPO looks too big to ignore.
I still haven’t come to terms with her not winning that nursery at the St Leger meeting, but I do know it was ample evidence that she’s miles better than her opening mark of 77, and the 7lb rise plucked from the air by the BHA handicappers might just underestimate her considerably.
The good thing is she’s priced up like she's an 84 horse, but I’m convinced she’s going to rank way higher than that next year, perhaps even somewhere around the 100-plus kind of mark that her half-sisters Dancing Star and Foxtrot Lady have achieved.
Those two are both highly effective at six furlongs, but Strict Tempo could well get further than that in time. However, a big field and strongly-run six at this stage of her career looks fine and her stamina could well come in handy this weekend.
Vintage Brut, Red Balloons and Swissterious top the ratings for this race with marks of 101, 96 and 101 respectively, but Strict Tempo gets weight from all of them – 5lb, 7lb and 8lb - and that could also be crucial in the final analysis.
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: +345.99pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
Posted at 1700 BST on 05/10/18.