Our racing expert Ben Linfoot seeks out the value on Super Saturday as the July Cup and John Smith's Cup take centre stage at Newmarket and York.
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The busiest racing Saturday of the year builds to a crescendo on ITV1 with the Darley July Cup moved to the final race of the broadcast at 4.40pm to give it the attention and build-up that it deserves.
Ten live races on ITV’s main channel gives the sport some serious exposure on what is probably the biggest sporting weekend of the year and it is with hope the July Cup delivers as it usually does.
This year there doesn’t appear to be a superstar in the race, but we do have several strands of form colliding as horses from the King’s Stand, Diamond Jubilee, Commonwealth Cup and even the Wokingham bang heads in a bid to determine an elite sprinter.
It looks like the middle-distance three-year-olds might well be up against it in the battle of the generations, but I’m not so sure the sprinters have such a big gap to bridge and it’s no surprise to see a three-year-old head the betting here.
That horse is Advertise after his Commonwealth Cup win, but I don’t think it will take an awful lot for TEN SOVEREIGNS (10/1 General) to reverse that form and he’s worth backing to come of age in a race his trainer excels in.
Last year U S Navy Flag became the fourth Aidan O’Brien-trained winner of the race and he was a Middle Park winner who thrived for dropping back in trip after being tried in various races over a mile.
Ten Sovereigns is similar, but more lightly-raced and he has already dropped back to six in the Commonwealth Cup. His best performance was in the Middle Park, though, on good to firm ground, and it’s the surface that could spark a career-best performance from him on Saturday.
By American sire No Nay Never, it would seem Ten Sovereigns is at his best on fast ground and the only time he has encountered good to firm was in that Middle Park success last season when he beat Jash to cement his reputation as a top two-year-old.
Running over a mile in the Guineas on good ground stretched him, while, on reflection, I thought he ran a really encouraging race on good to soft in the Commonwealth Cup when beaten two-and-a-half lengths by Advertise.
He seemed to lack a gear that day, but he was short of room at one point and it could be that the ground blunted his speed somewhat. Nevertheless, he ran okay and it was something to build on ahead of when he gets his optimum conditions.
That time is now with the good to firm ground swaying things in his favour on Saturday. That could well help him get much closer to Advertise and I don’t think he should be three times the price of that horse based solely on that Commonwealth Cup defeat.
Sticking with Newmarket for now, it’s the bet365 Bunbury Cup at 3.30 and last year’s winner BURNT SUGAR looks fairly priced at 14/1 (General) to go in again for Roger Fell.
He loves a big field handicap over seven furlongs on fast ground, as he showed in this race last year and when following up in his very next race in the ultra-competitive International Handicap at Ascot just two weeks later.
After that double he went up 5lb to 105, but he’s dropped 3lb this season on the back of two efforts in soft and heavy ground at Haydock, so he looks fairly treated off a mark just 3lb higher than last year’s Bunbury Cup success.
A strong pace looks vital to him and he should get that here with horses like Lake Volta, Vale Of Kent and Admirality in the field, so another bold bid looks on the cards with the Fell yard in cracking form.
I am going to take two against the field in this race as I can’t resist the claims of RIPP ORF (12/1 General) now he has dropped down the weights a bit.
A race of this ilk; big field, strong gallop, good to firm ground and seven furlongs very much plays to his strengths and he’s been given a chance by the handicapper after dropping 5lb from the mark he began the campaign off.
He hasn’t been running too badly either, beaten just over two lengths in fifth by Cape Byron in the Victoria Cup, so he’s very interesting off 93 now he’s got his ideal scenario.
Last year he won on the July Course and ran well at the track on other occasions too, while his International Handicap third (beaten a length by Burnt Sugar – gets a 1lb pull here) and Cunard Handicap win off 93 at Ascot are significant pieces of form with this race in mind.
He didn’t act at Epsom last time, so it’s easy to strike a line through that and if you do you’re getting a decent price (even though he has been backed) about a horse that revels in this type of race and is nicely handicapped.
Over at York it’s the 60th running of the John Smith’s Cup, hence the insertion of ‘Diamond Jubilee’ into the title, and it looks as competitive as you would expect.
There might be an angle, though, as there’s surprisingly few horses that like to go forward in this and track position could well become vital as they approach the home straight.
With that in mind Tim Easterby’s AASHEQ looks a big price at 25/1 (General 1/5 1,2,3,4,5) as he’s been very consistent this season and could well get the run of things here.
Always prominent, he usually travels well and he just about gets a mile-and-a-half as well, so he’s the perfect type for this race.
Drawn nicely in nine, he could well sit one or two off the lead and be travelling nicely as they enter the home straight where he ran well off a similar mark in soft ground last season.
He likes faster ground, though, and won on such conditions first time out at Pontefract over 10 furlongs off just a 2lb lower mark back in April, while he’s backed up that victory with good performances at Epsom and Chester subsequently.
Beaten two lengths by Saturday’s favourite Mountain Angel at Epsom, he gets a handy 10lb swing at the weights here. It would be no surprise were he to reverse that form, yet he’s four times the price.
Finally, back ROYAL BIRTH at 14/1 (General 1/5 1,2,3,4,5) in the Betfred Heritage Handicap over five furlongs at Ascot at 1.45.
Stuart Williams’ horse won this race three years ago off a mark of 92 and he was placed in similar contests off 94 and 95 at the same track later that season.
That’s significant evidence that he goes well here, then, and all of those efforts were on good to firm ground as well, conditions that he’ll encounter on Saturday.
He’s hardly raced on turf during the last three years, but he’s been running consistently well on the all-weather this year with five of the best performances of his career coming at Lingfield, Kempton and Chelmsford in 2019.
Last time out he ran a cracker in second behind Tropics off a mark of 98, yet he gets to race off a much reduced turf mark of 86 this weekend.
I like all-weather form at sand-based Ascot and I like that Royal Birth seems to be as good as ever at the age of eight.
With pace drawn around him towards the stands’ side in the shape of Watchable, Machree and Tis Marvellous, this race could well be run to suit, so he’s a big price off a light weight at a track he goes well at.
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: +373.19pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
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Posted at 1700 BST on 12/07/19.