Our racing expert Ben Linfoot seeks out the value on day two of the Grand National meeting at Aintree with a 28/1 chance fancied in the Topham.
Recommended Bets: Grand National meeting day two
Sky Bet are offering EXTRA VALUE to followers of the Sporting Life Value Bet column with exclusive guaranteed advertised prices for at least an hour from the time of publication (5pm-6pm max £25). Just make sure you're logged in and click on the links below to automatically populate your betslip...
For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record
The Foxhunters’ is always a great spectacle over the National fences but it’s the Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase on day two at Aintree that is the first big betting race to get stuck into over the famous spruce.
Janika is the best horse in the race and could well be a Grade One contender very soon, so he has to be on any shortlist despite edging up the weights to 162 following a third consecutive runner-up finish in handicap company last time.
However, this is a really tough ask off a big weight and he is a single-figure odds favourite, so I’d rather draw a line through him on price grounds and widen the search for value.
Call It Magic looks a big player but he wouldn't want to get into a pace battle up front and Ballyhill looks pretty short at 12/1 considering he’s not tackled these fences before and he’s not the safest conveyance over an obstacle.
There’s room for an each-way swing at a big price, then, and the one I like above all others is HIGHLAND LODGE at 28/1 (Sky Bet 1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6, William Hill 1/5 1,2,3,4,5).
The key for him could be the softening of the ground on Thursday as he loves the combination of the Aintree fences and testing conditions as evidenced by his Becher Chase record which includes a first, second and a third.
He fell in the latest edition, but that was his first run for over 300 days and he unseated his rider and got loose beforehand which won't have helped matters.
He's handicapped to run a big race on his Becher Chase form from the last few years, as, while he's effectively running off 136 from 1lb out of the weights, that's still lower than when he was second and third in the Becher, while he's only 4lb higher than when he won it.
Likely to be up there from the outset and staying out of the trouble in behind, this teenager can use all of his experience to navigate his way around and I'm rarely concerned about backing an older horse in this type of race.
The card kicks off with a good handicap as 22 line up for the Merseyrail Handicap Hurdle (1.45) and I’m lured by the claims of Evan Williams’ ESPRIT DU LARGE at 12/1 (bet365, 11/1 General).
He looks let in lightly off 132 to my eyes as he was travelling along nicely when hitting the third last in the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Rossington Main Hurdle at Haydock a January, a race in which he eventually finished a nine-length fourth to Mister Fisher.
I think he would’ve finished much closer but for that error and he made amends last time out at Hereford, winning easily by 10 lengths from the 130-rated Newton Boy off level weights.
The step up to two-and-a-half miles really seemed to suit him that day and he looks well-handicapped over the trip, while Thursday’s rain is in his favour as well.
Whether he’s ready to tackle seasoned handicappers of this class is the big question mark, but he’s a promising improver at the right end of the weights and in the likely conditions his claims are seducing at 12/1.
In the Grade Ones there look to be a couple of underestimated horses simply because of whom they are trained by.
Firstly, Harry Whittington’s ROUGE VIF looks overpriced at 11/1 (William Hill, 10/1 General) in the Top Novices’ Hurdle at 2.20.
This horse drifted violently to his left in bad ground when winning at Newcastle but he looked much more straightforward up at Kelso last time where he made all to beat the likes of Windsor Avenue and Getaway Trump.
On Boxing Day he was second to Mister Fisher at Kempton, finishing in front of Thomas Darby who was runner-up in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Third in the Supreme was Itchy Feet, also owned by Kate & Andrew Brooks (like the selection), and he’s favourite here at 3/1.
Rouge Vif simply shouldn’t be anywhere near almost four times the price of his owner-mate and he might well get an easy lead as well under Daryl Jacob.
Secondly, Go Another One was on the radar for John McConnell in the Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at around 25/1.
He’s a consistent horse with loads of experience who stays well, while his trainer has a great record in the UK this year with his runners (six wins from 15) while Richard Johnson is six from 12 for him.
Some of the market leaders might not be as strong in the stamina department, but I decided against backing him in the end after the ground turned soft. I’m not sure he wants conditions like that looking at his record.
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: +336.69pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
Posted at 1700 BST on 04/04/19.
GET THE FULL PICTURE: Don't miss out on FREE video replays and our fantastic My Stable tracker. Log in now and become a Sporting Life Insider.