Ben Linfoot has had 16/1, 18/1, 12/1, 14/1 & 16/1 Value Bet winners since May 17 after another on Saturday - don't miss his Royal Ascot day one tips.
Recommended Bets: Value Bet, Royal Ascot Day One
Royal Ascot starts with a bang as always on Tuesday with Ribchester and Churchill set to be two key horses for plenty of punters and bookmakers alike on day one.
Richard Fahey’s Ribchester kicks off the meeting in the Queen Anne Stakes and though he is a deserved favourite for the opener he does look very short at odds-on, especially with the ground set to ride on the fast side.
He’s a versatile horse when it comes to conditions, but he has been beaten the few times that he has encountered ‘Firm’ in the going description and a couple of his rivals look sure to thrive on a fast surface.
Lightning Spear is one of those and so is Mutakayyef, a horse I felt sure I’d be tipping a week or so ago. I really like him as he looked a top-class miler at this track last July and he goes really well fresh, too, so his absence since Meydan is no concern.
The problem is he’s halved in price in the last week and he looks nothing but about the right odds now at the general 7/1.
Reluctantly, he’s passed over and I’ll give the St James’s Palace Stakes a swerve as well.
Churchill and Barney Roy dominate the betting here and it is hard to see anything else beating the duo. I did toy with the idea of putting up Lancaster Bomber each-way at 33/1, as he’s probably at least the third-best horse in the race on fast conditions and he could get the run of things out in front as well.
However, I backed him in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and I can’t get the image of Donnacha O’Brien looking around after about 50 yards to see where Churchill was out of my mind.
Beaten five times by Churchill in his career already, it’s likely that stat will be six from six come Tuesday afternoon and I’m loathe to waste the win part of the stake - even though he could well hit the frame. Place only punters, I wouldn’t put you off.
Enough of what I’m not backing and on to what I am as the King’s Stand Stakes (3.40) doesn’t look half as clear cut as the market would have you believe to my eyes.
If the Lady Aurelia that blitzed the Queen Mary a year ago turns up it probably will be, but that performance came on soft ground and she hasn’t come close to replicating the form in three starts since.
She did far too much too soon in the Cheveley Park Stakes and I just wonder how she’ll cope against some other speedy frontrunners in Just Glamorous and Take Cover.
With that trio in the field they could go really hard in this and that scenario would suit ALPHA DELPHINI who is definitely worth a bet at 25/1 (General).
Bryan Smart’s horse needs a strongly run, stiff, five furlongs to produce his best form and he looks highly likely to get the race run to suit on Tuesday.
An excellent close-up third behind Priceless and Goldream in the Temple Stakes at Haydock last time, he was slightly squeezed for room late on that day and I fancy him to reverse the form with that pair on this stiffer track.
Relatively lightly-raced for a six-year-old sprinter, he improved markedly last summer when rattling up a hat-trick including a competitive big-field handicap at this course (on Good to Firm ground).
His half-brother, Tangerine Trees, improved dramatically at the age of six and it wouldn’t be a surprise if there was still more to come from this son of Captain Gerrard.
Interestingly, Tangerine Trees’ improvement coincided with the reapplication of a visor and Smart turns to that headgear for the first time with Alpha Delphini on Tuesday, with the cheekpieces discarded (he won the Beverley Bullet when they were applied for the first time).
Smart’s horses ran well on Sunday and it was good to see him have a winner with Helovaplan, his first victory since quarantine restrictions on his yard were lifted.
Drawn in amongst the pace in stall 14, Alpha Delphini is expected to find plenty for Connor Beasley and at 25/1 he looks underestimated. With most bookies offering normal each-way terms I’ll just be having the win bet, but Sky Bet are going 1/5 the odds 1,2,3,4,5 and bet365 ¼ the odds 1,2,3,4 if you’d prefer the place insurance.
Clive Cox has a couple of good chances in the King’s Stand in Priceless and last year’s winner Profitable, but they aren’t his only representatives on the card as he also runs the very interesting PRINCE OF THE DARK (20/1, General) in the Coventry Stakes at 3.05.
A son of the same stable’s brilliant Diamond Jubilee and July Cup winner Lethal Force, Prince Of The Dark was backed down from 7/1 to 7/4 before winning at Bath on May 26.
He got a bit upset in the stalls beforehand along with the withdrawn City Gent, but he skipped across the fast turf to win easily from some experienced horses before unseating Adam Kirby after the winning line.
Cheekpieces are applied now and headgear had a positive effect on his sire, who ran well in the same aid a couple of times before winning in first-time blinkers. Prince Of The Dark’s dam, Fanrouge, ran well the only time she ran in cheekpieces and her half-brother, Haikbidiac, improved in the headgear, winning a big sales race at York on his second start in the sheepskin. Another half-brother, Eagle Rock, won in first-time cheekpieces, also at York.
Form horses Brother Bear and De Bruyne Horse set the standard, but Prince Of The Dark has loads of scope for improvement and he more than hinted that he had a good portion of natural ability on his debut.
He looked sharper than Lethal Force did at his age at Bath and he was fourth in the Coventry when still a maiden. Considering Cox’s prowess with sprinters, and this horse is bred for nothing else, the 20/1 just looks too tempting, even accounting for the usual imponderables in a top juvenile race at this time of year.
Finally, Alan King has a strong hand in the Ascot Stakes and OCEANE is the one I like at 14/1 (William Hill, Bet Victor).
This five-year-old has run well at Ascot a couple of times, winning here off a mark of 84 last August before returning to form here last month when he ran on to be second behind Graceland, beaten less than a length.
Graceland almost followed up at York six days later so was clearly in good heart, so for Oceane to give her 9lb was a good effort and he could well improve on that now he steps up in trip.
He wasn’t lacking for stamina when third at Goodwood over two and a half miles last summer and a return to that sort of distance should see him in his element again now he seems to have resumed his upward curve.
The cheekpieces haven’t transformed his consistency, but his record on fast ground in the headgear is very solid. He’s 1-3-1-5-2 when running on Good to Firm in cheekpieces so conditions are right up his street and he looks the pick of the Alan King trio considering the course and the ground.
King is no stranger to big handicap success at the major Flat meetings, including at Royal Ascot where he had a winner just last season with Primitivo.
National Hunt trainers have unsurprisingly dominated this race over the years, too, and while jumps big guns Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson look well represented with Thomas Hobson and Beyond Conceit, it’s King’s Oceane that looks the underrated one on Monday evening.
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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: +401.99pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
Posted at 1700 BST on 19/06/17.
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