Our Ben Linfoot seeks out the best Value Bets on St Leger day at Doncaster and at Chester with four selections put up at big prices.
Recommended Bets: Value Bet St Leger Day
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It’s a really good renewal of the William Hill St Leger with an Irish Derby winner, a Goodwood Cup winner, an emphatic Gordon Stakes winner and a horse on a five-timer among the 11 participants.
Those four, namely Capri, Stradivarius, Crystal Ocean and Defoe, respectively, head the market, and their presence means you can get some fancy prices about their rivals.
That means nothing if the quartet is bombproof, but I’m not sure they are even if they do boast the best form on offer so far.
Stradivarius has the stamina but I’d be a bit worried that he won’t be quick enough and presumably Frankie Dettori thought the same, while his chosen mount, the filly Coronet, has to prove herself at the trip.
Capri and Crystal Ocean are going over two furlongs further than they ever have before as well, and, while it should suit the former on paper, that often counts for little in the final furlongs of a lung-busting St Leger.
You could easily make a case for Rekindling at 12/1 on his recent form at the Curragh, or Raheen House at the same price following his Bahrain Trophy win, but the one that stands out at the current odds is COUNT OCTAVE at 28/1 (bet365, BetVictor).
He has some class in his pedigree, being a half-brother to Irish Derby winner Treasure Beach, while he’s related to stayers like Elidor and Honor Bound, too, and his record on the track is one of steady progression.
Indeed, this son of Frankel has improved with every single run and the further he’s gone the better he’s got.
Only a neck separated Andrew Balding’s horse and Stradivarius in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot and that was just the fourth career start for Count Octave, while John Gosden’s charge was running for the sixth time.
Even considering Stradivarius’ less-than-smooth passage in that race, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Count Octave manage to reverse the neck defeat, yet he’s three times the price of his conqueror that day.
Since then Stradivarius has won the Goodwood Cup and he’s not the only horse to boost the Queen’s Vase form. The third, Secret Advisor, won the Melrose at York, the fourth, Belgravia, won at Leopardstown, the fifth, Time To Study, won at Doncaster on Friday as did the sixth, Desert Skyline, in the Doncaster Cup.
It’s worth remembering Stradivarius and Count Octave pulled a couple of lengths and more clear of that quartet and the selection boosted the form in defeat, as well, when he was runner-up to the Queen’s Call To Mind in the Listed March Stakes at Goodwood last time.
That was a tactical race and, given his forte is his stamina, Count Octave did as well to finish as close as he did off an ordinary gallop.
He’ll have to improve significantly on that form to win a Leger, but he can do, and at 28/1 he rates the value play in the season’s final Classic.
Earlier on the Doncaster card opens with the hell-for-leather William Hill Portland Handicap over the unique distance of 5f 143y and it’s a contest that has thrown up its fair share of race specialists over the years.
Dawn’s Delight won it twice in the 80s, Hello Mister won back-to-back renewals in the 90s and Halmahera racked up a consecutive hat-trick of victories in the contest between 2002 and 2004.
CAPTAIN COLBY (16/1 General) could join that select group as he won this race last year and is remarkably running off a 3lb lower mark on Saturday, despite running a good second in a Listed contest on Town Moor back in April.
That shows you how poorly he’s run on his last four starts, but he saves his best form for flat tracks and particularly Doncaster, while he doesn’t really want extremes of ground either.
I’m happy to excuse his last four runs with those factors in mind, while it’s a positive that blinkers replace the hood he wore last time at Yarmouth.
He won in first-time blinkers and all of his best efforts have been in that particular piece of headgear.
Captain Colby likes to come from off the pace and he should have plenty to aim at with prominent racers like Major Pusey, Bossipop, Justanotherbottle and A Momentofmadness drawn around him.
That’s not to say the far side will be inconvenienced as there’s a bit of pace over there, too, and if he gets the breaks this could be the year Harry Hurricane gets his Portland after being placed in the last two renewals.
However, I simply cannot resist the 33/1 (Paddy Power, Betfair Sportsbook 1/5 1,2,3,4,5) about ALEEF for David O’Meara given his unexposed profile and potential.
This horse has some very solid five-furlong form to his name and has won twice over six, but given he raced keenly on the most recent of those victories at Newmarket I’ve come to the conclusion that this inbetweener distance could be perfect.
I really like his form over five at Chelmsford last November, where Wednesday’s Scarborough Stakes winner Encore D’Or won the race with plenty of fast horses beaten in behind.
That might’ve been on the all-weather but Aleef has run well several times on turf, even if one of those wasn’t last time at Ripon which helps explains his big price.
Really well backed into 100/30 favouritism that day, plenty was expected on his first run for over nine months but everything that could go wrong did go wrong.
He was bumped leaving the stalls, lost ground, raced keenly and was basically allowed to come home in his own time with any chance of winning clearly gone.
Dropped 2lb after that, I’m happy to just put a line through the run and with Shelley Birkett taking off another 3lb he has the look of a well-handicapped horse.
Finally, SHOURANOUR looks a big price at 20s (BetVictor, Paddy Power) in the 32Red.com Handicap at Chester (3.15).
The absolute key to this horse is the ground as he loves it soft or heavy and conditions have turned very testing in the north west.
He’s only 1lb higher than when winning in soft ground at Ripon four starts ago, while he ran better than his finishing position suggests last time at Catterick after running wide throughout and being hampered.
Drawn in stall two on Saturday, he should get a much smoother run through and he’s handicapped to run a big race in the likely conditions.
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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: +364.39pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
Posted at 1700 BST on 15/09/17.