Value Bet: Expect a Stern effort
Ben Linfoot has one Value Bet for Sunday – in the feature StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Sternrubin: Big price at 14s for the Greatwood
Value Bet Selection
It's always tempting to look for the biggest potential improver in any handicap, but especially one like the StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle which has a history of throwing up good winners that go on to better things.
Punters don't have to look far for the most unexposed horse in Sunday's line-up, as Alan King's Winter Escape has three ones next to his name and he's the 11/4 favourite thanks to those victories, all achieved in novice company last season.
However, we haven't seen him since his Sky Bet Dovecote win in February and this is a tough handicap to reappear in considering his inexperience. He could, of course, just be miles better than these, but on balance he looks worth opposing at such skinny odds.
There are other horses with the potential to improve, such as Leoncavallo, Modus and North Hill Harvey, but all are priced up on what they might do rather than what they have done and with that in mind I think the 14/1 about the proven STERNRUBIN is a perfectly fair bet.
Philip Hobbs' horse is a no-nonsense frontrunner and it gets him results. He won the Gerry Feilden and dead-heated for the Ladbroke under such tactics last season, while he was third in the County Hurdle off just 3lb lower than Sunday when the omitted last didn't help his cause.
This season he's already proven he has improved again, winning the William Hill Handicap Hurdle at Ascot off a mark of 142 despite hanging to his left late on. He might have been feeling the ground, though, as it had firm in the description and he'd prefer a bit of cut.
He gets his ground on Sunday as it was riding soft on Saturday afternoon and he could well improve again under such conditions. On top of this, a 3lb rise for that Ascot win was extremely fair and the Hobbs team are in great nick, as evidenced by a couple of Saturday winners and that game effort from Village Vic in the feature.
Village Vic tried to nick the BetVictor from the front under Richard Johnson and the champion jockey will almost certainly try the same tactics aboard Sternrubin. Indeed, looking through the field, there doesn't look to be much opposition for the lead at all and there is a very real possibility he could be allowed too much rope up front.
Hobbs has a fine record in this race, too, with four victories, including a couple with Sternrubin's owner, Terry Warner, thanks to the exploits of Rooster Booster and Detroit City.
Perhaps that's why this race has been his aim for such a long time. After his latest Ascot win, Warner said: "Philip wanted to win the race at Cheltenham in two weeks (the Greatwood) and I said he would win the two races. I presume we will still go for that."
He does, and up just 3lb with ideal ground conditions, he has a fine chance too. At 14/1 with BetVictor and Paddy Power (and Sky Bet for at least 15 minutes from 830 Sunday morning), I'm keen to get him on side.
*Sky Bet are offering EXTRA VALUE to followers of the Sporting Life Value Bet column with guaranteed prices at 0830 GMT on race-day morning.
What does this mean? Sky Bet will agree to match the prices advised on all selections in the Value Bet column upon its publication for at least 15 minutes from 0830 (GMT) on race day. In the event of non-runners having had a material effect on the market since publication, Sky Bet will guarantee to offer the top-price in the market place.
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: +390.74pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
Posted at 1700 GMT on 12/11/16.
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