Ben Linfoot seeks out the best Value Bet selections on day one of York's Dante Meeting and he's taking two against the field in the big sprint handicap.
Value Bet: York Dante Meeting, day one
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Since a bit of rainfall on Saturday night that was measured at 10mm on the Knavesmire, it has been hot and dry and we’re subsequently looking at ground currently described as Good to Firm, Good in places for day one of the Dante meeting at York.
That’s absolutely fine for Harry Angel, the day one star attraction in the Duke Of York Stakes. He’ll have to defy a 5lb penalty in the Group Two contest but if he’s anywhere near fully tuned up for this he’s going to take some beating judging by his efforts on fast ground in the Sandy Lane and the July Cup last summer.
If he’s not quite on his A-game it looks wide open, with Sir Dancealot looking a potential improver over this trip this season. He looked to be a better horse following a gelding operation last time, he’s one from one at York and could well reverse form with Brando now he’s got a run under his belt.
The presence of Harry Angel is a looming one, though, so it’s a no-bet race for me as is the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes at 4.05.
This Oaks trial doesn’t usually throw up shocks with odds-on favourites winning in four of the last five years, but the odd one out in that sequence was David Simcock’s once-raced Madame Chiang at 8/1 in 2014.
Simcock, fresh from Classic glory in France with Teppal at the weekend, saddles the once-raced Ejtyah this time around and the daughter of Frankel is well worth a second look following an impressive debut success at Chelmsford in December.
The race that gets the punting juices flowing, though, is the 19-runner Infinity Tyres Handicap over six furlongs at 2.55 and at 25/1 (General) it’s worth chancing EL HOMBRE is good enough to take this step up in grade in his stride on his favoured ground conditions.
Keith Dalgleish’s horse won four times from nine starts last season and his form figures when the ground is officially Good to Firm are 2-1-1-1-1, underlining his preference for a faster surface.
A sharp six furlongs on fast ground look his optimum conditions judging by his career-best win on his final start last season at Thirsk, a performance that came from just a 3lb lower mark than the one he races off on Wednesday.
He’s a big price in part because he finished last at Lingfield on his seasonal return, but that was over seven furlongs and he was only beaten just over five lengths, while it should be remembered he was last on the all-weather first-time out last year before that productive summer on turf.
It’s to be hoped that run will have brought him on plenty fitness-wise and he looks to have the right style for six furlongs York, being a sprinter with the pace for five that likes to be up there with the leaders from the outset.
Drawn in 14 towards the stands’ side, he looks to be where the early pace is with Flying Pursuit, Ower Fly and stablemate Dark Defender likely to help force the gallop from those drawn among the high numbers.
This is the best race he’s ever run in, which is the main concern, but at 25s the price compensates for that as he could well improve again on this ground.
One that won’t be lacking for class is Paul Midgley’s FINAL VENTURE and at 12/1 (General) he’s also worth backing in the race; his first handicap in this country in 12 runs.
Two of his best performances last year came on similar ground at Beverley - in the Bullet where he was denied by the evergreen Take Cover and at York in the City Walls Stakes where the same horse beat him by half-a-length.
That sort of form, where he beat several horses rated 100-plus, gives him a fine chance here off 102, especially considering he was rated 10lb higher following that run at York last July.
It has been a while since he has run over six furlongs in the UK, but he’s a four-time winner at the trip with two of those coming in handicaps off marks of 104 and 108 at Meydan.
He’s the pace angle down the centre of the track and if he gets into a nice groove under Oisin Murphy he could well take some pegging back.
Orion’s Bow is very well-handicapped now and looks the one to beat, but he’s looking pretty short at around 4/1 for a horse that is winless in his last 14. I’m happy to take him on with the selected pair.
Posted at 1700 BST on 15/05/18.
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).