After 10/1 winner The Organist on Friday, Ben Linfoot takes two Value Bets against the field in the Ladbrokes Trophy as well as one on the Newbury undercard on Saturday.
Different name, same old puzzle. The Ladbrokes Trophy, formerly the Hennessy, has attracted its usual mix of improving second-season chasers and a posse of gritty older handicappers to warm the cockles as the festive season hits full swing.
Total Recall heads the market for Willie Mullins and he easily won the Munster National on his stable debut last time, coasting to a seven-length success over subsequent Clonmel Oil Chase winner Alpha Des Obeaux.
He could follow up that success, but off 18lb higher he looks short enough to me at 5/1 and I’m happy to take on Singlefarmpayment, too, despite his eye-catching run at Cheltenham last time. I’m just not wholly convinced that he’ll go through with his effort when asked, especially on what will be testing winter ground over the longest trip he’s faced.
Harder to put a line through is American, who I really like. He’s got your perfect Ladbrokes Trophy profile, being an unexposed, unbeaten chaser who showed top-class form as a novice. His win at Uttoxeter on Midlands National day off a mark of 148 was very classy.
He’s reportedly a fragile sort, but Harry Fry has been happy with his preparation, which has included some racecourse gallops, and the conditions hold no fear for him. If anything, he might want it softer.
The available 7/1 is very tempting, as I’d rate him the most likely winner, but the one thing that puts me off is that he’s done all his winning in small fields and this big-field experience will be new to him. That might be nit-picking, but, at the prices, it’s just enough for me to look elsewhere.
After that it gets easier to narrow things down. I’m not sure Whisper jumps well enough to win a handicap like this off 161, while Coneygree has lots of questions to answer after that Wetherby display.
Royal Vacation is interesting at a price as he’s another with an archetypal Ladbrokes Trophy profile. A Grade One winner as a novice, albeit fortuitously, he showcased his talents at this sort of level when running away with the novices’ handicap on Cheltenham trials day.
He went off the boil after that, but he had a nice enough prep at Wetherby last time in the same race his trainer Colin Tizzard used to get Theatre Guide ready for this race a couple of times, including when he was second in 2015.
I think he’ll run well, but I’m not sure he’s one of the stronger stayers in the line-up and I do think that’s an asset you’ll need in abundance on Saturday afternoon as they’re bound to go a good clip in this.
Likely to be up there with the pacesetters is A GENIE IN ABOTTLE and at 12/1 (General) he looks a good price considering his progressive profile on softer ground (the going is officially Good to Soft, Soft in places, but in cold, tacky, winter ground I expect it to be testing enough).
His only slightly disappointing run over fences came at the Cheltenham Festival when he was fifth in the four-miler after being sent off 4/1 favourite, but there was more good than soft in the ground that day and the livelier conditions are a valid excuse.
Other than that he’s got an upwardly mobile profile and his two wins from two starts in soft ground in Ireland this campaign make for really good reading. He beat subsequent Troytown winner Mala Beach by a couple of lengths on his reappearance at Galway before reversing the form with his four-miler conqueror Tiger Roll last time at Wexford.
The good thing is his handicap mark hasn’t sky-rocketed on the back of those victories. Rated 148 when he beat Mala Beach, he races on Saturday off 152 and that looks a fair bit of handicapping from the English assessor – we haven’t heard any complaints from Michael O’Leary anyway.
His jumping has improved this season, he stays well and he looks a strong competitor perfectly well-equipped to deal with the demands of a race of this nature. It often pays to be prominent in this race and I’d expect A Genie In Abottle to be up there from the outset.
From those towards the top of the market, he’s the one I’m most interested in.
I do want a second string to the bow with plenty of good each-way terms available (Sky Bet are paying SEVEN places on each-way bets to 1/5 the odds), but I'm going to sacrifice the extra places for the bigger price of 33/1 (Ladbrokes, Coral 1/4 1,2,3,4) about MISSED APPROACH.
Warren Greatrex’s yard are in great form and this horse loves testing conditions as he showed at this track on his best run over hurdles when winning a handicap by 12 lengths at this very meeting a couple of years ago.
He also beat Saturday’s rival, Label Des Obeaux, easily in heavy ground over fences at Lingfield in January, while the best effort of his career came in the aforementioned four-miler when he was second to Tiger Roll in first-time cheekpieces.
A perfectly respectable eighth in the Scottish National after that, he reappeared this season in the West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby, but the headgear being left off was a warning sign that he was being prepared for bigger targets.
It’s therefore okay, I think, to put a line through that lacklustre run on this return to fences, especially with first-time blinkers fitted.
If they have the same effect first-time cheekpieces did he’s going to jump and gallop all the way to the line and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he’s on a going day under a prominent Richard Johnson ride.
Finally, I really like the look of REMILUC at 16/1 (General) in the Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle at 1.50.
This race looks wide open with Air Force One an unconvincing favourite and those immediately behind him in the market, like Master Dancer and Court Minstrel, not looking particularly well handicapped.
Remiluc, however, looks nicely handicapped off a mark of 135 now he returns to Newbury, as he won at the track off 134 back in March and he won a good handicap by nearly three lengths that day despite a mistake at the last.
Back in third in the race was Golden Birthday, who has won six times since over hurdles and on the Flat, while the second, Chesterfield, won twice at Aintree and Ayr the following month.
It’s a really strong piece of form and one that highlights Remiluc is a big contender at this level on soft ground at Newbury.
Claimer ridden by Harry Reed back in March, Paul O’Brien takes 5lb off him on Saturday and he’s been firing in the winners for Charlie Longsdon this season.
Remiluc comes into this race on the back of a good third at Fontwell, where he shaped as though he wanted the step back up in trip, and, back at the scene of his last success, he looks vastly underrated at 16/1.
Value Bet Selections, Newbury, Saturday December 2
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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: +385.89pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
Posted at 1700 GMT on 01/12/17.