Ben Linfoot seeks out the best Value Bet selections from around the country on Saturday and he has bets in the top handicaps at Goodwood, Haydock and York.
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There’s superb racing all over the place on Saturday and two of the most exciting horses on show are owned by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, with his famous blue and white silks set to be carried by Elarqam in the Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh and Battaash in the Armstrong Aggregates Temple Stakes at Haydock.
Those two could well dominate the headlines of the racing pages come Sunday morning, but both are relatively short in the betting and there are plenty of other punting opportunities with several high-quality handicaps taking place.
One such contest is the Amix Silver Bowl at Haydock (2.50) and the one I like here is Tom Dascombe’s FINNISTON FARM at 16/1 (General).
Dascombe has a terrific record at Haydock (83 winners at 18 per cent, +162.15 to a £1 level stake) and so does his jockey Richard Kingscote, as you would expect, his 86 winners (at 20 per cent) including this race last year when he made all on Mark Johnston’s Rusumaat.
Last year Dascombe didn’t have a runner in the Silver Bowl, but he has had a third and a fourth from just two runners in the past and it looks significant Kingscote opts for Finniston Farm in this rather than stablemate Dragons Tail.
The latter ran a stormer at Chester when he just lost out to Another Batt, but he’s gone up 5lb for that defeat and Finniston Farm remained on 101 after beating George Scott’s horse prior to Chester in the bet365 European Free Handicap at Newmarket.
Finniston Farm ran really well that day, rallying for second and shaping as though a step up in trip from seven furlongs would bring about significant further improvement.
Still, it was surprising to see him turn up in the Homeserve Dee Stakes at Chester over the extended 10 furlongs last time, a drastic step up in distance and one that caught him out.
He clearly didn’t stay, but he was keen and trapped out wide as well, so to see him finish a seven-length fifth wasn’t too bad with the drop back in trip and return to handicap company in mind.
Certainly, he looks fairly-handicapped off 101 considering his Free Handicap run, especially over a mile, and he’s one from one at Haydock after bolting up on his debut at the track last year.
Dascombe trained his half-sister Crowley’s Law to win a handicap at Haydock, so he knows the family well and a wide draw in 14 isn’t a concern given there’s no mad rush to the first bend from the mile start at this track.
Beaten just over two lengths in Gustav Klimt’s Superlative Stakes, Finniston Farm has clearly always been highly thought of and he’s a big price to land this race, as you can largely ignore his Chester run last time.
Over at Goodwood they’ve had a drying day after Thursday’s showers and that looks good news for GRAND KOONTA (14/1 General) in the Netbet Sport Handicap over seven furlongs at 2.30.
Clive Cox’s horse had some very good form as a juvenile, his five-length fifth in the Mill Reef on his final start at two his best effort from five starts and that race has worked out well thanks to the exploits of the first two home, James Garfield and Invincible Army.
He was right in the mix with just over a furlong to go that day, but a bump from James Garfield seemed to knock him out of his stride and he was outpaced in the closing stages.
Still, that’s good form in a handicap context and there’s every reason to believe he can improve at three and over seven furlongs. Dark Angel is a fabulous sire and most of his progeny seem to train on well, while he’s related to a handful of horses that won over seven furlongs or a mile.
This is his handicap debut, so it’s a bit of a guess as to whether he’s well-handicapped off 97, but that Mill Reef form suggests he might be and given he ran in the July Stakes as well Cox clearly thought he was up to group class last year.
With a good low draw in three and Gerald Mosse on board (he’s five from 18 for Cox in this country at 28 per cent), the 14/1 dangled looks too big to resist.
Finally, it’s the Mansionbet Sprint Stakes at York (3.40) and they’ve had a bit of rain on Friday which isn’t ideal for favourite Carlton Frankie.
She ran really well on her seasonal reappearance at the Dante meeting, her first start following a wind operation, but it’s a case of the faster the better for her and she could well be reeled in if the rain has got into the ground.
There is an obvious pace angle on both flanks with El Astronaute set to lead them up the stands’ side, but hopefully Carlton Frankie will pull the far side into things as I like the look of Michael Dods’ DAKOTA GOLD (11/1 General) from stall one.
He’s versatile regarding underfoot conditions but he doesn’t mind a bit of cut in the ground and he loves York, as he won on the Knavesmire off 87 last July and was then second, by a neck, to Major Jumbo over six furlongs at the track in September off a rating of 97.
He gets a 9lb pull at the weights with that rival on Saturday and he’ll love the pace of a big-field handicap as he has raced keenly in smaller fields.
That was certainly the case at Thirsk last time, but he was only beaten a length at the line and that should have put him spot on for this, a likely early-season target for him considering his excellent record at the track.
Posted at 1700 BST on 25/05/18.
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: +351.14pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).