Ben Linfoot has three Value Bet selections for Saturday's feature action at Newbury and Newmarket.
The Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on Saturday has attracted a stellar match-up between two of the stars of last season and the recent rain shouldn’t be a bother to either Galileo Gold or Ribchester.
The ground is soft, good to soft in places after the rainfall this week and both horses won in similar conditions at last year’s soggy Royal Ascot with Galileo Gold landing the St James’s Palace Stakes and Ribchester the Jersey.
After that the horses went in opposite directions as Ribchester did nothing but improve, winning the Prix Jacques Le Marois in between some fine efforts in defeat, while Galileo Gold regressed behind Richard Fahey’s horse in his last couple of races.
On his best form, though, he’s a huge player on Saturday and if the break has freshened him up sufficiently he’s a live danger to Godolphin’s favourite. Those two set the standard and it will be a surprise if something else improves enough to beat the pair of them.
Frankie Dettori could get a boost prior to his ride aboard Galileo Gold as he takes the reins on AL HAMDANY for Marco Botti in the Al Zubarah London Gold Cup and this horse has been vastly underrated at 28/1 (Betfair Sportsbook, Paddy Power 1/4 1,2,3).
The key to this horse is the soft ground and the galloping track and with conditions in his favour he looks well capable of landing a blow back in handicap company.
His head second to D’bai in a Listed contest at Pontefract last October is probably the standout piece of form in this race (Forest Ranger was third) and that effort can be marked up as he ran wide for much of the way and was hampered by the winner in the closing stages.
That’s the best run of his career by some distance and that it came on soft ground suggests he needs a good bit of cut to produce his best. He’s from a family that’s full of soft-ground performers, too, so this week’s rain looks very much in his favour.
His recent form on better conditions hasn’t been too bad in hot company. He was sixth in the Feilden and then improved a bit to be fifth in the Dee Stakes behind Cliffs Of Moher at Chester.
Dropped to the rear from stall nine on the Roodee, he stayed on nicely enough to beat a couple of horses in fifth and that fast, turning track won’t have suited at all.
Botti reaches for the first-time cheekpieces in a bid to sharpen him up and first-time headgear worked the oracle for his sire, Kodiac, who bolted up in first-time blinkers in a handicap at this very track.
The booking of Dettori for the first time on this horse also looks significant. The Italian jockey has a 22 per cent win strike-rate for his fellow countryman with 10 wins from 46 rides in the last five years, so they are well capable of teaming up to winning effect.
This is always a hot race and Saturday’s renewal is no different, of that there is no doubt. Dangers are everywhere, but with so much in Al Hamdany’s favour he’s very good value at 28s and is worth an each-way bet.
They race at Newmarket as well and the Rowley Mile didn’t escape the midweek rain either, so they race on soft, too.
The best betting race is the Betway Sprint Trophy Handicap and this is a really good race to have a go at as the two at the top of the market, Ekhtiyaar and Espirit De Corps, are both unproven on testing ground.
It could be worth chancing a couple at the bottom of the weights that will be fine on the conditions and Hughie Morrison’s POET’S PRINCESS remains with potential in this grade at 16/1 (General).
She’s been highly-tried having run in a Listed race and a couple of Group Three contests, including the Nell Gwyn last time where she ran no sort of race after getting worked up in the stalls, an incident that resulted in Robert Winston removing her blindfold late.
However, targets such as that suggest that connections have always felt she was pretty smart and she is related to Sakhee’s Secret who won the July Cup for the same stable.
In six starts she’s only run in a handicap the once, but that was a career-best and it did come on soft ground as well. Second in a big field at Ayr off a mark of 81, she would’ve won that day but for hanging badly and off just a 3lb higher mark she’s every chance on that form.
The other one worth backing is Ian Williams’ KREB’S CYCLE, also at 16/1 (General).
This horse was highly consistent for Richard Hannon as a juvenile, winning two races including in heavy ground at Leicester last June.
He wasn’t beaten far off marks in the mid-80s in handicaps after that, but he hasn’t encountered ground anywhere near as soft as it was at Leicester in his subsequent races.
Gelded before his first start for Williams, he was a big eye-catcher at Chester last week when finishing full of running on the heels of the leaders after the door was firmly closed on him in the closing stages.
I expected him to be shorter in the betting for Saturday’s race after that, as being 2lb out of the weights looks fairly insignificant and conditions look perfect for him.
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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: +368.14pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
Posted at 1700 BST on 19/05/17.