Ben Linfoot seeks out the value on the jumps card at Ascot on Saturday while he has one bet in the Mile at the 35th Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs.
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National Hunt action dominates the entire ITV coverage on Saturday afternoon for the first time this season but there’s no getting away from the disappointing field sizes at Wetherby.
A five-runner Charlie Hall that’s missing its two biggest draws at the five-day stage, Thistlecrack and Bristol De Mai, does little to get the pulse racing and the best domestic equine sport, for a bet at least, comes at Ascot.
And the best bet in Berkshire comes in the Bet With Ascot Handicap Hurdle at 3.00, with Paul Nicholls’ DIVIN BERE making plenty of appeal at 7/1 (Paddy Power, 888Sport).
Rated 148 when arriving at Ditcheat from Nicky Henderson’s, Divin Bere dropped 10lb in a disappointing first season for his new yard but he can put that behind him now he’s racing off a mark of 138.
A wind operation certainly looked to have done the trick on a recent day out at Bath, where he took advantage of his lowly Flat mark under his trainer’s daughter, Megan.
Nicholls has stated that a novice chase campaign could well beckon for him this season, but it’s no surprise to see him try and take advantage of his lowly hurdles mark here first.
That spin on the Flat should have put him right for this and it could well give him a fitness advantage over the likes of Global Citizen, who also has to give him half a stone.
Magic Dancer heads the market but he seems to reserve his best form for Cheltenham, while this is a big step up for unexposed novice Simply The Betts.
With the Nicholls team in great form, Divin Bere looks well worth backing – especially seeing as he’s got his ideal ‘Good’ ground conditions.
Earlier on I thought with plenty of pace on in the Ascot Underwriting Chase (1.50) things could fall nicely for Dan Skelton’s strong traveller Peppay Le Pugh.
He’s three from five since joining Skelton, will love the ground and could well win this if they go a good gallop.
However, he will have to be produced very late, as he doesn’t find a lot off the bridle, and the presence of Wenyerreadyfreddie puts me off in a competitive little race.
Instead, I’d rather back Peter Bowen’s PLAY THE ACE in the Sodexo Gold Cup at 3.35 at the generally available 16/1.
He looks underestimated at those odds as there is nothing massively unexposed in this and I’d have him a good few points shorter with the market leaders pushed out a little.
This experienced pointer has room for improvement at three miles under Rules as he’s barely run at the trip over fences for Bowen, apart from when he was virtually wiped out at Perth a few runs ago.
The nine-year-old bounced back from that unfortunate incident when back over fences at Market Rasen last time, where he plugged on well for second in a good field over 2m5f.
His run there suggested three miles could see him in a better light and he’s back down to his last winning chase mark of 134 now, as he won off that rating at Aintree in the December of last year.
Prior to that he was three from three in November, so this could well be his time of year and he’ll like the ground, too, while Sean Bowen, five from 15 on the horse, takes over in the saddle.
I believe I Can Fly…
Over at Churchill Downs it’s the 35th Breeders’ Cup with Enable and Roaring Lion flying the flag for a numerically strong team of Europeans.
Enable should get the job done in the Turf, it’s highly likely the home team will take the Classic and Wild Illusion looks a very strong favourite for the Filly & Mares.
The Breeders’ Cup Mile, though, looks wide open following the controversial withdrawal of Polydream and there simply has to be a bet in the race with Gustav Klimt disputing favouritism.
He’s winless in eight, is drawn wide in 13 and I don’t think he’s even the most likely winner from his yard with stablemate I CAN FLY having more convincing claims at 8/1 (bet365).
A gambled on 7/1 chance for the 1000 Guineas back in May, that punt went awry but she’s gradually worked her way into top form since, taking advantage of a drop in grade at Killarney in August before winning the Group Two Boomerang Stakes at Leopardstown.
She disappointed on the Rowley Mile once again in the Sun Chariot, further evidence that she simply might not like the place, and she bounced back in career-best fashion after that when a neck second to Roaring Lion in the QEII on Champions Day.
That run gives her a great chance here and I like the fact some of the home contingent in this race, namely Oscar Performance, stay further and are likely to try and make this a real test from the front end.
It could well play into her hands as she’s usually held up for a strong finish, which is good as Jamie Spencer takes over in the saddle for the first time.
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: +344.49pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
Posted at 1700 GMT on 02/11/18.