Value Bet tipster Ben Linfoot fancies four at big prices at Aintree and Sandown on Saturday including a heavy ground specialist in the Becher.
It’s a belting afternoon’s sport in the racing world on Saturday with the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase and randoxhealth.com Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown and the two races over the Grand National fences at Aintree. Fingers crossed the weather behaves itself and both meetings are on.
At Sandown it’s actually the Henry VIII that looks more of a race than its illustrious older brother thanks to a five-strong field that all won impressively last-time out.
Colin Tizzard and the Potts family could easily have a double with Finian’s Oscar and Fox Norton in the two Grade Ones, although Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls will be doing their utmost to stop such a feat with Brain Power and Politologue respectively.
Those races have the quality but the best bets are on the under card and the best of the lot is Sarah Humphreys’ THE HAPPY CHAPPY at 12/1 (Betfair Sportsbook, Paddy Power) in the Betfair London National Handicap Chase at 3.30.
This horse is 2lb out of the handicap but that’s of little concern over 3m5f around Sandown and he’s improving rapidly over fences, winning twice from three starts including last time at Ludlow where he was victorious with plenty in hand.
That was a sharp enough track for this strong stayer and you can only think that the extra half mile around a galloping circuit like Sandown will bring about plenty more improvement.
Key to him is ground on the good side so it is with hope that the surface remains ‘Good to Soft’ after the frost covers are removed and if it is he has a good chance of completing the hat-trick off his light weight.
He’s been backed from opening shows of 16/1 on Friday afternoon but there’s still plenty of juice in his price – he’d probably be vying for favouritism if he was still trained by his old handler Paul Nicholls.
Earlier on at Sandown A HARE BREATH is worth a bet first-time out at 10/1 (Betfair Sportsbook, Paddy Power, betway, Stan James) in the Jumeirah Hotels And Resorts December Handicap Hurdle (2.20).
Trainer Ben Pauling has an incredible record in the month of December, winning 24 from 95 races at over 25 per cent in the month for the last four seasons, and this horse could easily add to those numbers considering his record when fresh.
Two years ago he landed a monster gamble at Cheltenham’s November Meeting on his first start for almost two years, while he was a close-up and hampered fourth in the Greatwood Hurdle first-time out last season.
That was off a mark of 137 and he runs off a rating just 2lb higher on Saturday, as he was dropped 3lb following a down-the-field effort at Aintree on his final appearance last season.
A stiff two miles is absolutely ideal for him, so with plenty in his favour he’s fancied at double-figure prices.
Up at Aintree conditions are Heavy, Soft in places on the National course and with sleet and rain forecast being able to handle the most testing of ground looks an absolute prerequisite.
With that in mind there is only one horse I want to back in the Randox Health Becher Handicap Chase at 1.30 and, with fingers firmly crossed that the 16 declared runners line up, an each-way bet on GOODTOKNOW at 16/1 (Ladbrokes, Sporting Bet ¼ 1,2,3,4) is advised.
When the mud is flying Kerry Lee’s are always worth a look and this horse specialises in foul ground.
Four of his five career victories have come on heavy and he also has a good recent second behind Grand National winner One For Arthur on his CV having finished runner-up in the Betfred Classic Chase at Warwick on soft back in January.
He couldn’t get as close to that rival in the National itself on unsuitably better ground, but he ran much better than his finishing position of 13th implies, especially with the Becher distance in mind.
The nine-year-old ran prominently throughout, jumping the Aintree fences with aplomb until he made a mistake at the Canal Turn second time around which seemed to knock the stuffing out of him.
However, that experience will have done him good and over this shorter trip on much more suitable ground conditions I fancy him to run a big race off a 2lb lower mark.
He only got as far as the second on his reappearance at Wincanton, but that just means he’s flying under the radar a little and 16s looks big about him now he’s got his conditions.
Nigel Twiston-Davies has the favourite for the Becher in the shape of Blaklion and, though he has an obvious chance, I’m not sure I’d want to be backing any horse at 3/1 in a race famous for its carnage.
The stable do have a horse worth backing over the National fences on Saturday, though, as ARCTIC GOLD makes plenty of appeal at 10/1 (General) in the 188Bet Grand Sefton Handicap Chase at 3.10.
There’s less chance of running into trouble in this with just the 11 lining up and Arctic Gold is progressing nicely over fences with three seconds to his name from three completed starts.
His best run was his last, when running a close second to Cyrus Darius at Ayr, the pair clear of Captain Redbeard who reopposes on Saturday.
The run told us a few things; that Arctic Gold is getting better over fences, that he’s handicapped to win off his current mark and that he goes very well in heavy ground, something his hurdles form indicates as well.
His chase mark remains 6lb lower than the best he achieved over timber, so there’s obvious room for improvement from him and, considering his yard’s record over these fences, it would be no surprise if he puts it altogether in a big one at Aintree.
Value Bet Selections, Aintree & Sandown, Saturday December 9
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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: +381.89pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
Posted at 1700 GMT on 08/12/17.