Ben Linfoot seeks out the value on day one of the Ladbrokes Winter Festival at Newbury on Friday and he's taking on the big guns in the Long Distance Hurdle.
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Wholestone and Sam Spinner are the two headline horses on day one of the Ladbrokes Winter Festival at Newbury on Friday, but both carry penalties and could be worth taking on.
The duo head the market for the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle at 3.00, with Sam Spinner on a retrieval mission following his defeats at Cheltenham and Aintree in the spring and Wholestone aiming to enhance his Stayers’ Hurdle credentials.
However, the 6lb extra they have to carry could be a vital factor, especially with Sam Spinner having his first run of the season while Wholestone has lost his last five over three miles in testing ground.
There's enough there to chance something against them at a bigger price and the one I like is Evan Williams' CLYNE at 16/1 (General).
He has to prove his stamina for the trip, but there's every chance it could even see him improve again.
Over shorter trips he's displayed battling qualities and he's a really tough horse, nearly always shaping like he'd thrive over further.
The best runs of his career came when he stepped up to 2m4f at the backend of last season and he's a half-brother to a winner over three miles as well, so there's plenty to recommend him at his first go over the trip.
Some observers think he was flattered to finish third behind L'Ami Serge and Supasundae in the Grade One Aintree Hurdle last April, but I thought he kept going well in the closing stages – another positive for his prospects at this distance.
Perhaps he's been underestimated by remaining a 152 horse after that. I think it's perfectly acceptable to conclude that he might be worth a few more pounds and that getting 6lb from the big two gives him a better chance than odds of 16/1 imply.
Also in his favour is the fact he’s gone well fresh several times in the past and he could get the run of the race in this, too, sitting just off the likely pace setters Sam Spinner and Monbeg Theatre.
With the soft ground very much in his favour as well, he’s worth backing.
In the closing Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle at 3.35 a couple of horses have been very well found in the market with Dragon D’Estruval now the general 11/4 favourite while Juge Et Parti is 6/1 in most places having opened up at plenty bigger.
Both look well-handicapped, with Dragon D’Estruval 11lb well-in on his chasing mark, while Juge Et Parti is 8lb well-in following his second at Chepstow last week.
They could well fight out the finish, but Colin Tizzard’s ROCKPOINT could be anything at this distance and he’s worth taking a punt on at 14/1 (General, 16/1 bet365).
He was outpaced over two miles on good ground at Cheltenham on his return, but three miles on soft ground at Newbury looks right up his street and he could take off now he encounters this distance in handicaps.
Campaigned mainly at two miles in novice hurdles, he often shaped like he’d be better over further, including when second at this track after whipping round at the start last season and when he was beaten at odds-on at Exeter.
He’s a half-brother to Santini, a Grade One winner over three, while his sire Shirroco is a dab hand at imparting stamina onto his stock, as the exploits of high-profile horses like Minella Rocco and Rock The Kasbah demonstrate.
It looks like he’s bred for this trip, then, and off a low weight on his first go at the distance he’s worth a speculative punt.
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: +338.49pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
Posted at 1700 GMT on 29/11/18.