Ben Linfoot seeks out the best Value Bet selections on King George day at Ascot and Sky Bet Dash day at York with five horses fancied on a superb day's action.
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The King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes takes centre stage at Ascot on Saturday but the will-he-won’t-he conundrum regarding Cracksman’s participation makes it an unappealing betting race the night before proceedings.
If he runs I’d be inclined to take a chance on him back over 1m4f on ground that presumably will have had the sting taken out of it, but while punters up and down the land wait to see if John Gosden gives him the go ahead there is the small matter of the Gigaset International Handicap (3.00) to try and solve.
The first thing to flag up in this race is that the majority of early pace seems to be among the low numbers on the far side. Gallipoli, Lucymai, Lady Freyja, Mukalal and Louis De Palma are among the pace angles on that part of the track and with that in mind I want to back Mark Johnston’s CARDSHARP at 20/1 (General).
He’ll likely be up there with the pace on the far side as well and he’s a group horse running in a handicap as he has lots of pattern-class form to his name.
As a juvenile he beat U S Navy Flag and then ran up close behind that rival in the Middle Park and Dewhurst, while his Listed win at Salisbury in June reads well considering he runs in Saturday’s handicap off a mark of 107.
The son of Lonhro only made his handicap debut in the Bunbury Cup last time and he ran a cracker off a mark of 111, beaten a length in fourth and running on well to the line despite being under pressure from some way out.
All of the first six from that race run again here but it’s Cardsharp that is the best off at the weights and he’s run well at Ascot before when third in the Norfolk and when beaten just over six lengths in this season’s Commonwealth Cup.
Mark Johnston has a terrific record in this contest, James Doyle is riding out of his skin and, at 20/1, Cardsharp makes plenty of appeal.
Despite the stands’ side being at a possible disadvantage if there is a lack of early pace to drag them along I cannot resist the claims of Archie Watson’s CHESSMAN at 25/1 (General) as well.
Watson has been in fine form recently, winning nine from 24 at a 38 per cent strike-rate for the last fortnight, and Chessman can go well in this if his draw in 28 isn’t an inconvenience.
Formerly with Gosden, Chessman was seventh in the Jersey Stakes for his former trainer and though he’s taken a while to come to hand for his new yard he ran a race full of promise at Chester last time.
That was in Listed company, but he ran a cracker despite adversity as he was drawn wide in 10, missed the break, was hampered in the run and still ran on for third with plenty left in the tank.
He beat four horses rated over 100 that day, finds himself 5lb well-in in this running off 95 and Oisin Murphy (22 from 83 at 27 per cent for Watson) takes the ride for the first time.
The cheekpieces are retained after they sharpened him up at Chester, so there is plenty to like about his chance for a trainer on the up and one who still might be a tad underestimated judging by this horse’s position in the market.
It could be a day to remember for Sir Michael Stoute if he becomes the most successful trainer in King George history but before then he might have already saddled a winner with MOQARRAR (16/1 General) in the Porsche Handicap (2.25).
This is a good race with plenty of promising types on show, which helps explain his big odds, but at 16s I want to get involved as he’s shaped with plenty of promise on his last two starts and after just six runs he has untapped potential.
He has a very similar profile to Stoute’s 2016 winner of this race, Mustashry, a horse that was also lightly-raced and came into this on the back of a midfield finish in the Britannia.
Moqarrar ran in the same Royal Ascot handicap last time as well and his effort can be marked up as he ran in a small group of three on the far side and beat those two rivals comfortably even after drifting towards the main group in the closing stages.
Stoute reaches for cheekpieces after that but he should be seen in a better light in this as he’ll be in the thick of things in a smaller field from his draw in six and his previous run at Chelmsford was a big step forward.
Second that day when beaten a head, the third, Vale Of Kent, has come out and won twice subsequently and Moqarrar put a few lengths between himself and that horse in the closing stages when finishing well.
Aquarium can give him a good tow into this, he still looks fairly handicapped off 95 on that Chelmsford run and at 16s he’s worth chancing.
Over at York it’s the Sky Bet York Stakes and though Elarqam is the clear form pick at his best he does have that below-par Irish Guineas effort and a 63-day absence to overcome.
I’m happy to take him on and the same can be said for Smart Call, a mare that is zero from seven on turf in this country including two defeats at this track.
In the hope that they go a good gallop – and they could do if Forest Ranger, Euginio and Elarqam go forward – then this could be set up for THUNDERING BLUE (10/1 General) who can make the transition from handicap company.
He’s probably worth rating higher than 102 judging by his superb effort in the John Smith’s Cup last time where he stayed on well for second despite the race not being run to suit as Ali Rawlinson dictated things aboard Euchen Glen.
It was further evidence that he loves York following his excellent victory at the Dante meeting and while several of these have questions to answer, it’s the thriving handicapper with a potent turn of foot that looks underestimated.
Finally, TOMMY TAYLOR looks the one to be on in the Sky Bet Dash (2.40) at 12/1 (General).
Rated 107 after winning a Listed race at this track last September, he beat horses rated 105, 107, 108, 109 and 110 that day and he’s only had four starts since yet has dropped to a rating of 98.
Last time he ran over seven furlongs at Chester, in the aforementioned race where Chessman was third, and he was drawn wide in eight and showed up well for a long way before fading late on.
Being dropped 4lb for that seems generous and the rainfall on the Knavesmire looks very much in his favour with a return to six furlongs in mind.
A central draw looks ideal and it would be no surprise to see Kevin Ryan find a win for him with a big pot on the line now his handicap mark has dropped sufficiently.
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: +343.34pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).