Ben Linfoot seeks out the value on the final day of the Flat season at Doncaster, featuring the November Handicap, and at Wincanton, where it's the Badger Ales Trophy.
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The curtain falls on the Flat this weekend with the November Handicap passing the big-Saturday handicap baton to the Badger Ales Trophy as we fully make the transition into the jumps season.
At Doncaster the ground is currently ‘Good’ but the clerk of the course doesn’t think it will take much rain to alter that and with 6-8mm forecast on Friday evening we should expect an easing of conditions.
That will suit plenty of these with the likes of Buzz and Now Children probably wanting every drop of rain possible, those two rivals having good form chances on the back of last-time-out wins.
Royal Line is also in that category following his easy win at Epsom in April, a victory that saw him go up 10lb. Favourite for this race last year, he weakened into seventh off a 9lb lower mark but could be a different beast this time around.
As you can quickly tell, this looks a good renewal with plenty of chances, but the one whose claims I cannot ignore is TO BE WILD at 14/1 (Betfair Sportsbook, Paddy Power, 12s General).
This horse is hugely unexposed after just five starts and he’s looked like a group horse in the making on a couple of occasions, including when he hosed up in a 1m4f handicap at Doncaster off a mark of 93 in the October of 2016.
He won by four lengths that day and went some way to proving he justified the lofty entries that Hugo Palmer was making for him. Before that victory he was entered in the St Leger and after it he was put in the Yorkshire Cup and Coronation Cup.
He didn’t take up either of those, but he did run in the Group Three Aston Park Stakes at Newbury and he ran well, finishing among 113 to 117 horses like Hawkbill, My Dream Boat, Midterm and Across The Stars.
That run suggested he could more than hold his own at that level and with that run in mind he looks well treated off 105 on Saturday with the in-form Nicola Currie taking off another 3lb (she’s one win away from losing her claim).
The 539-day absence is obviously a concern, but fears are allayed when you look at Palmer’s record at readying one after an absence. With horses coming back after 180 days or more off he's 19 from 95 at 20 per cent and when you narrow that to 300 days or more he's four from 12 at 33.33 per cent.
There's every reason to believe To Be Wild will be cherry ripe for this, then, and the fact he returns at Doncaster, the scene of his finest hour, adds extra weight to the case that this has been a long-term plan.
He’s the main pick, but I’m also going to have a little bet on Andrew Balding's LORELINA at 40/1 (Betfair Sportsbook, Paddy Power, 33s General).
She simply looks to have been underestimated in the betting on the back of one below-par run last time, but excuses can be made for that performance.
Firstly, it was her first go at 1m6f and she looked a non-stayer, while secondly, Oisin Murphy tried front-running tactics on her for the first time and she ended up being a bit of a sitting duck as the field swarmed by her at Goodwood.
Prior to that she was hugely progressive, winning three handicaps on the bounce as she improved a stone in the weights from 83 to 97 and she looks far from handicapped out of this considering her win off 92 at Haydock on September 8.
She runs off 97 on Saturday with William Cox taking off a further 5lb (he’s also one win away from seeing his claim reduced) and she will relish every drop of rain that falls.
Her career form figures on soft ground or worse are 1-2-1-2-1, so I think it’s worth chancing her at 40s and hoping they get even more rain than forecast as she’d probably be a major plunge in the event of a significant going change.
Sumkindof bet at Wincanton
Finally, it’s the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton and this is another race in the lap of the weather gods.
At the time of writing the ground is Good to Firm (Good in places) at Wincanton but between 10mm and 20mm is forecast so we'll be looking at easier conditions, it's simply a case of by how much.
Present Man bids to retain his title off a 2lb higher mark under Bryony Frost and he deserves to be battling for favouritism, which he is, along with stablemate El Bandit who has the potential to make a mockery of his mark of 139.
The problem with him is his inexperience. This will be tough and to win it on the back of just one previous run over fences would be the mark of a very good horse.
He could well be, but despite Paul Nicholls’ excellent record in the race I’m going to take on all three of his and the one that makes most appeal at the prices is Tom George's SUMKINDOFKING at 16/1 (bet365, William Hill, 14s General).
He wouldn’t want the ground to turn too soft, but I think he’s worth risking on that score as I like the way he’s been progressing over fences, where he’s two from six after a consistent start to his chasing career.
The Wincanton race he was third in last time has been a good pointer towards the Badger Ales in the past and there’s every reason to believe he can reverse the form with Bigbadjohn.
A 2lb weight pull is a little help, but more importantly Noel Fehily takes over in the saddle and he can be confident he stays now following that close third over 3m2f last time.
With the George stable in good nick the 16/1 looks well worth taking, as he’s far from exposed and just looks as though he’s maturing as a chaser after six goes over fences.
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: +341.49pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
Posted at 1700 GMT on 09/11/18.