Ben Linfoot seeks out the best Value Bet selections on day one of York’s Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival as the Juddmonte International takes centre stage.
Recommended Bets: Value Bet, Ebor Festival, Day One
For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record
York has always been a happy hunting ground for Saeed bin Suroor and so has the Juddmonte International itself, a race he has won four times thanks to Halling (twice), Sakhee and Sulamani all between 1995 and 2004.
It has been a while since he last tasted success in this race and, indeed, a while since he won a Group One in Britain – Farhh’s 2013 Qipco Champion Stakes was his last top-level success in this country.
All while Godolphin’s other Newmarket-based trainer, Charlie Appleby, has gone from strength to strength, as advertised by his three Group One wins this summer in the Derby, King’s Stand and Nassau Stakes.
But, after a drastic dip in form at the start of the year, Bin Suroor’s horses have been in superb nick for a good few months now, his strike-rate for July and August combined registering at 34 per cent following 28 winners from 83 runners.
And with his team bubbling along nicely, the stage is set for stable star BENBATL (12/1 Sky Bet, Bet Victor, Boylesports) to give Bin Suroor a huge tonic at one of his favourite meetings by landing the big prize on day one.
Poet’s Word is a worthy favourite, there is little doubt about that, but I do think he could be vulnerable tactically if there is the lack of a strong gallop.
With no obvious front-runner in the line-up this has the potential to be run at a slower pace than you would expect for a top-class race and I think that could well be against Poet’s Word whose improvement has come on stiffer tracks than York.
There is enough of a doubt there to take him on at the prices and Benbatl looks the obvious play at double-figure odds as the three-year-old generation have yet to prove they have the beating of the better older horses.
Benbatl certainly fits into that category thanks to two Group One victories in his last three races, a subdued effort over a mile in the Queen Anne sandwiched between a superb win in the Dubai Turf in March and then a confidence-building victory in a German Group One last time.
He enjoyed the longer trip and lesser company in Munich when dominating from the front end, but this horse displayed a rapid change of gear when winning the Dubai Turf and such a weapon could be crucial if this develops into a sprint for home on the Knavesmire.
Jim Crowley looks a good jockey booking – he’s had 11 wins from 43 rides at 26 per cent for Bin Suroor in his career – and if he gets Benbatl nicely positioned towards the head of affairs in this the pair could be tough to overhaul in the closing stages.
It’s difficult to take issue with anything in the markets for the Sky Bet Great Voltigeur and the Acomb Stakes, but the opening Sky Bet And Symphony Group Handicap over five-and-a-half furlongs is one of those York sprints I can’t resist and the bookies go 10/1 the field.
El Astronaute looks set to blaze a trail up the stands’ side and he could bring the likes of Holmeswood and Tanasoq into things, but the place to be could be middle to far side again with Carlton Frankie, Harome and Gracious John set to blast off from the low numbers.
A real strong pace to aim at on the far side could play into the hands of a few, but none look better handicapped than BOOM THE GROOM from stall six and he’s worth siding with each-way at 16/1 (General ¼ 1,2,3,4).
A winner of this race two years ago off a 12lb higher mark, he’s winless in 23 runs since but he’s become really well treated and has shown signs of life on his last couple of runs after things didn’t go his way before that.
Small field races on the all-weather don’t suit him and he’s had a fair few of those this year. What he really needs is a lightning quick gallop that enables him to finish strongly and he looks sure to get that while this extended five is ideal.
The Epsom Dash is usually a good fit for him as well, but this time around nothing went right as he was slowly away, got too far back and was badly hampered as he whimpered home in 19th.
Recent runs at Goodwood and Chelmsford have been encouraging, though, as he was third in the same race he won before winning this race in 2016 at the Glorious meeting before emerging with credit last time after being forced wide in the straight.
He shaped well at Chelmsford, as if he was coming to the boil, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if his canny trainer Tony Carroll has had this race in mind for him for a good while.
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: +342.18pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
Posted at 1700 BST on 21/08/18.