Our racing expert Ben Linfoot has had 12/1 and 5/1 winners in his last two Value Bet previews and he's happy to take on the odds-on Crystal Ocean at Sandown on Friday.
Recommended Bets: Friday April 26
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Crystal Ocean is head and shoulders above the rest on his best form in the Group Three bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown (2.25) on Friday afternoon.
Second in three Group One races, he hasn’t quite made the breakthrough at the top level but he’s hard to beat in the next tier, winning three Group Three races, including this one, and a Group Two outside of elite company.
Rated 129 at his best and 125 heading into Friday’s race, he’s 7lb clear of his nearest rival on official ratings and he gets 3lb from him (Thundering Blue).
It’s easy to see why he’s 8/11 favourite, then, but that looks skinny enough to me and I think there’s a good chance we can get him beaten.
The reason for that is he wasn’t at his best when landing this race last year, just holding on from Fabricate by a short-head, which gives us hope that he won’t quite be cherry ripe for his seasonal reappearance.
Sir Michael Stoute certainly used the race as a stepping stone last year and, while he got away with it, he might not do so again over this 10-furlong trip, as he’s clearly a horse that is at his best over a mile-and-a-half.
The one I’m going to take him on with is Harry Dunlop’s KNIGHT TO BEHOLD at 10/1 (General), another son of Sea The Stars and one that beat Study Of Man further at Deauville than Enable did in the Arc last season.
That was in a 10-furlong Group Two and he won easily, by four lengths, Oisin Murphy steering him to an emphatic front-running success.
Getting the lead is crucial to this horse and he’s dangerous let loose on the front end, as he showed in France and in the Lingfield Derby Trial last May where he beat subsequent St Leger winner Kew Gardens by over three lengths.
He has a hit and miss profile but there’s every chance Friday is going to be a going day as he likes fast ground, goes well fresh and there doesn’t look to be any competition for the lead.
With Murphy booked to do the steering again there’s every chance he’ll be able to give this horse a breather before the climb for the line and in that scenario he could be a very tough horse to pass.
The Group Two bet365 Mile at 3.35 is a good race but favourite Sharja Bridge could be tough to beat and the same thought process can be applied to the bet365 Classic Trial at 3.00 where Bangkok gets the chance to enhance his burgeoning reputation.
Owners of Bangkok, King Power Racing, have the favourite for the opening bet365 Esher Cup Handicap, as well, in the shape of Fox Leicester, but there is a tremendous amount of guesswork in pricing this early-season three-year-old handicap up.
Most of the field are making their handicap debuts in this after running in novice company and cases can be made for plenty of the field.
That’s not normally a situation I relish as a punter, but I simply cannot resist the 25/1 (General 1/5 1,2,3 – Sky Bet and Paddy Power are paying four places) about RED BRAVO and he’s worth an each-way bet.
He had three runs as a juvenile and disappointed at Chelmsford on his all-weather debut on his second start, while he didn’t have the pace for a six-furlong sales race at Doncaster on his final run at two.
However, his debut victory at Newmarket’s July Course has worked out tremendously well and on that form alone he’s worth chancing off a mark of 83 on handicap debut.
He settled really well for a newcomer that day and travelled like a good horse before finishing his race off to win by a length, so there was plenty to like without knowing how the form would work out.
But work out it has with the second, Kick On, now a 107-rated Feilden Stakes winner, the third, Bye Bye Hong Kong, now also rated 107, the fourth, Damon Runyon, is now rated 85 and the seventh, On The Line, is now rated 87. Even the last home, Albert Finney, has won twice since and is now rated 84.
So 25/1 looks too big about a horse that is having just his second start on turf since that day and there are glimmers of hope in his pedigree, too, that now is the time to catch him; one half-brother, Aguerooo, won on his handicap debut, while another, Mosalim, won on his three-year-old reappearance.
Perhaps he needs softer ground like he had at Newmarket and perhaps his regressive profile at two is a negative in a hot race. Both are valid points, but the booking of William Buick looks another positive to me and at 25s I’m more than happy to take a chance on him.
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: +343.69pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
Posted at 1700 BST on 25/04/19.