Our racing expert Ben Linfoot has two Value Bet selections for Newbury on Saturday including an Emma Lavelle-trained handicapper.
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There’s more Grade One racing to enjoy on Saturday on both sides of the Irish sea as the festive action continues apace and the Betway Challow Novices’ Hurdle (3.00) takes centre stage at Newbury.
Thyme Hill is the even-money favourite here and he looks set to take all the beating after impressing on his first two hurdling starts with victories in Grade Two contests at Chepstow and Cheltenham.
He could well be an Albert Bartlett horse come the spring, but, like last time at Cheltenham, the intermediate trip looks ideal at the moment in the testing conditions and it will be a surprise if he is turned over this weekend.
Éclair Surf is a 14/1 outsider against him in the field of five, but is well worth keeping an eye on for Emma Lavelle.
He’s a former winning pointer and expensive purchase who is bred for a fence, but he impressed at Exeter on his hurdling debut when winning well and he’s part-owned by Newbury Racecourse Chairman Dominic Burke.
A bold showing would not surprise as Lavelle bids to add to her big-race wins at Newbury this season following the successes of Paisley Park and De Rasher Counter.
However, a better bet for the stable is DOWN THE HIGHWAY at 22/1 (William Hill, BetVictor, Betway) in the Betway Novices' Handicap Chase at 3.35.
Lavelle won this contest last year with De Rasher Counter and it’s worth remembering he came into the contest on the back of two uninspiring runs over fences after pulling up at Hereford and running down the field at Exeter.
All he needed was a bit of time and I feel similar comments apply to Down The Highway as he showed talent early in his career, winning a point-to-point from subsequent stablemate Old Rascals before he bolted up in a novice hurdle on his debut under Rules.
Things haven’t gone quite as smoothly since then, but he always looked a chaser in the making and he would’ve finished third to Black Op at Stratford on his fencing debut were it not for a mistake at the last.
On his only subsequent start he was pulled up at Chepstow, but he finished lame after pulling off a shoe and standing on the nails so his recent form figures are down to extenuating circumstances.
Now he’s dropped 5lb to a mark of 127 it’s worth remembering his early promise, especially at 22/1.
Earlier on POLYDORA has dropped to a nice mark in the Betway Mandarin Handicap Chase (2.25) and he’s worth a bet at 7/1 (bet365, Boylesports, 888Sport, Betfair Sportsbook, Paddy Power).
Tom Lacey’s charge won a three-mile handicap chase at Newcastle off 131 in the December of last year but was put up 11lb to 142 on the back of that.
He struggled off his new mark, but finished third to subsequent Ladbrokes Trophy winner De Rasher Counter at Newbury on this card and was then beaten by the same rival at Uttoxeter after that.
This season he returned after a break at Ayr and finished a distant second to Bafana Blue, some late mistakes costing him at least finishing a bit nearer.
He’ll obviously have to cut those out, but a further 4lb drop in the weights to 133 will help and so should the return to Newbury.
Nico de Boinville has a good record for Lacey and he’s been booked for the mission, so everything is in place for Polydora to get into a good rhythm and get back on track.
Posted at 1700 GMT on 27/12/19
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: +362.39pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
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