Ben Linfoot seeks out the best Value Bet selections on 32Red Sprint Cup day at Haydock and from a couple of competitive handicaps at Ascot.
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After a prolonged summer of largely fast ground conditions we’ve finally seen the weather turn just in time for 32Red Sprint Cup day at Haydock.
Thursday's late showers at the track turned the ground to Soft, Heavy in places and more rain is forecast on Friday and Saturday ahead of the feature contest.
The worsening of conditions is of no concern to backers of Harry Angel, as he won this race last year on heavy and he simply loves Haydock, whatever the weather.
Not only does he have that four-length Sprint Cup win to his name, but he's also the track record holder thanks to his Sandy Lane success earlier last season and he's undoubtedly the one to beat.
However, at 5/4 there are grounds to oppose him after his troubles in the stalls in two of his last three starts.
A slow start did for him in the Champion Sprint at Ascot last October, while a much more serious incident at this year's Royal meeting saw him sustain an injury that has kept him off the track until now.
On balance he's there to be taken on, and though Speak In Colours, Gustav Klimt and Sands Of Mali were all considered, the rain has definitely brought DONJUAN TRIUMPHANT into calculations and he's worth backing each-way at 28/1 (Ladbrokes, 25/1 General 1/5 1,2,3) despite his price already coming in from 33s and bigger on Friday afternoon.
This horse has always gone well in testing ground and he goes well at Haydock, too, winning twice here from five starts and finishing second on two of the other three occasions.
He won a Group Two in France by over five lengths on soft ground as a juvenile and two of his best efforts in more recent times have come on heavy, including at this track last September where he won the Rearranged-Ayr-Gold-Cup-At-Haydock off a mark of 109.
That was a serious performance and a surefire indicator to his chances on Saturday given it was a group-race-winning effort over the Sprint Cup course and distance in what look sure to be similar conditions.
This season he hasn’t quite run to that level in four starts, but he wasn’t far off when finishing second to Emmaus in heavy ground at Leicester and he ran an absolute belter over seven furlongs in the Lennox Stakes at Glorious Goodwood when finishing a close-up fourth.
Drawn wide that day, Oisin Murphy blasted him out of the gates, got him across to make the running and he showed bags of speed to lead by three lengths approaching halfway. He was still in front at the furlong pole and kept on well once headed to only go down by half a length to Sir Dancealot.
That horse has gone in again since at Newbury and is 7/1 for this after being supplemented, while Donjuan Triumphant ran a poor race at York resulting in him being almost four times the price of David Elsworth's charge.
However, I'd forgive any horse a blip on the Knavesmire and we should see a very different Donjuan Triumphant now he has his optimum conditions.
Andrew Balding is no stranger to a big Group One upset when the conditions turn after Here Comes When's 2017 Sussex Stakes stunner and even at around 25/1 Donjuan Triumphant remains a fair each-way bet.
Earlier on at Haydock it's reasonable to expect a much-improved performance from Ian Williams' RESHOUN now the ground has turned soft and at 10/1 (General) he’s worth backing for the 32Red Casino Handicap at 3.35.
The French import came alive at the backend of last season on easier ground, going down by a neck at Leicester in October before hosing up at Doncaster off a mark of 86 at the end of that month.
He hasn't enjoyed the faster ground conditions this season but he's run respectably on a couple of occasions and is now back down to a rating just 4lb higher than when he won on Town Moor 11 months ago.
Last time, at York, I actually thought he shaped quite nicely as he wasn't beaten far and certainly wasn't given a hard time of things. He can build upon that and put in a much bolder bid now he encounters cut in the ground.
He has to prove he stays, but you wouldn't think that would be an issue judging by his Doncaster win and more important to his chance is a sound gallop that allows him to travel into contention smoothly.
The good news is he should get that with Hochfeld, Cosmelli, Cliffs Of Dover and Bolder Bob in the field, so with plenty in his favour he's worth chancing despite his ropey form figures.
There's good racing over at Ascot as well and RUSTANG makes plenty of appeal at 16/1 (General) in the Lavazza Stakes at 3.55.
Richard Hughes' horse has been hugely progressive this year, winning three from six including at Newbury two starts ago off just a 4lb lower mark.
Off his new rating of 85 he ran a cracker at Chelmsford last time, staying on into third from off the pace and finishing with plenty left in the tank.
His effort can be marked up significantly, as the two that finished in front of him were ridden prominently, and there's every reason to think he'll act at sand-based Ascot given his superb record on various all-weather surfaces.
This is a good race which helps explain his price, but he looks a tad underestimated given his profile and recent form and he could well make the most of the significant weight he gets from fancied horses like Ghostwatch and First Eleven.
Finally, the 16/1 (General) about SABADOR in the Cunard Handicap at 2.45 is more than fair.
Ed Walker's team are in good heart and this horse caught the eye at Newbury last time when tanking through the contest only to be done no favours by the winner, Squats, who came across him in the closing stages.
That was further evidence that a big-field handicap over seven is ideal for him and he has good form over Saturday's course and distance following his close-up fourth in the Victoria Cup earlier in the campaign.
A 7lb pull at the weights with Squats could well be enough to reverse that Newbury form and he should get a nice tow into things given he's drawn near a couple of Mark Johnston-trained horses in Vale Of Kent and Cardsharp.
Since winning at Ayr last season he's actually only had three goes over seven furlongs on galloping tracks and he ran really well on two of those occasions, front-running the one time he flopped in the International Handicap.
He's much better chasing a lead and with that Newbury form done no harm by Graphite Storm's Ascot second on Friday it's worth taking a punt that everything drops right for him in the sort of race that is highly likely to play to his strengths.
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: +338.18pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
Posted at 1700 BST on 07/09/18.