Our racing expert Ben Linfoot seeks out the best Value Bet in the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham on Sunday as the November Meeting comes to a close.
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We’ve a good card at Cheltenham on Sunday with Al Dancer and Getaway Trump facing off again in the Arkle trial, while Defi Du Seuil bids to lay down a marker in the two-mile chasing division in the Shloer Chase.
The Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle has thrown up some good horses over the years too – think Cue Card, Dodging Bullets, Altior and Elixir De Nutz – while the final day of the meeting has some extra sparkle this year thanks to the rearranged Cross Country Chase.
However, the best betting race on the card by some distance is the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, although this year’s renewal doesn’t have an obvious star amongst its number.
Quel Destin tops the weights and he could be the one, as he jumped slickly when winning at Cheltenham at the Showcase meeting and he seems capable of handling all types of ground.
He’s not out of it, but giving weight to everything won’t be easy and he’s been well enough found at the general 9/1, while Benny’s Bridge looks short enough at 13/2 considering he went up 10lb for winning a much easier contest at the last meeting.
Another horse that hasn’t been missed by the handicapper is GUMBALL, up 8lb for his Ascot win last time, but, even so, that was a good race and he’s clearly thriving, so the market may well have underestimated him at 14/1 (General).
The softer ground is a question mark with him as well, but I think he’s a much improved horse since we last saw him in such conditions and he’s worth chancing in a less-than vintage renewal.
Part of his recent resurgence has been the application of a hood, as he can be a free-going sort, and the headgear really seems to be helping him to settle.
He’s won three and been third once from four starts in a hood (including two wins on the Flat), and I felt he settled much better for star 5lb claimer Ben Jones at Ascot where he made all the running.
In the heat of that race he put many lengths between himself and the field, only idling late on, and while the handicapper wasn’t fooled by the narrow winning distance it shouldn’t be forgotten why he deserved his 8lb rise.
It will be tougher to make all at Cheltenham, but Jones’ claim will help and there doesn’t look to be an awful lot of pace pressure, with perhaps only Quel Destin and Monsieur D’Arque likely to keep him company from the outset.
His speed and track position could be a major weapon here, while trainer Philip Hobbs has a tremendous record in the race, winning it with Rooster Booster and Detroit City for Gumball’s owner Terry Warner, as well as with Menorah and Garde La Victoire in more recent years.
There are plenty of dangers including Ffos Las winner Monsieur Lecoq, while Nicky Henderson’s lightly-raced pair, Countister and Dame De Compagnie, both mares for JP McManus, demand respect.
But it’s Gumball that appeals most at 14s, as there could still be more to come from him and he looks a fair few points bigger than he should be.
Posted at 1700 BST on 16/11/19
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: +384.39pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
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