Value Bet: Pretty pretty good
Ben Linfoot has four Value Bet selections on a brilliant card at Ascot for QIPCO British Champions Day.
Pretty Perfect runs Simple Verse close at Doncaster last time
Value Bet Selections
It's a fabulous card for QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot and the key for many punters will be deciding which horses not to back with so many top-class animals on show.
If you're happy to forgive Mecca's Angel her below-par effort in France last time (and you think she'll stay six furlongs) you can get 9/1 about the sensational Nunthorpe heroine in the QIPCO British Champions Sprint, while a couple of Classic winners are available at 11/2 and 10/1 in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
That highlights the depth and quality to this card and the two feature races, the QIPCO Champion Stakes and the QEII, are brimming with the champions of the season.
Irish Champion winner Almanzor and Arc victor Found clash again in the big one, with last year's winner Fascinating Rock heading a high-class support cast, while in the QEII the brilliant 1000 Guineas and Oaks winner Minding takes on the 2000 Guineas hero Galileo Gold, with the Prix Jacques Le Marois winner Ribchester thrown in for good measure.
It's difficult to envisage a scenario that prevents the cream from rising to the top in the two big races, while Order Of St George looks extremely difficult to beat in the Long Distance Cup as well.
He ran a cracker in the Arc, the step up to two miles (a distance he has yet to actually run over) will be ideal and he has plenty in hand, even if his Chantilly effort has taken its toll enough to prevent him from performing to his very best.
That leaves the other three races to have a go at and I do think there's a chance of the principals being beaten in the Sprint.
I really like Quiet Reflection and she's a worthy favourite on the back of her Haydock Sprint Cup win, but it nags away at me that she had to work really hard to run down a hanging Kachy in the Commonwealth Cup at this track in June and she might be a bit short at 11/4 with that in mind.
Shalaa will have to improve on his reappearance run and, while he could do, it's a big ask, while plenty of The Tin Man's potential is factored into his odds at 6/1 rather than form book evidence.
Twilight Son is a threat to all on his second in this race last year and his Diamond Jubilee win, but he has a bit to prove following his July Cup flop and then we get to Librisa Breeze at 9/1, an interesting horse for sure, but one that has never run over a distance this short.
It's pretty incredible he's the same price as Mecca's Angel, but I get the drift about her. She was a long way off her best form in the Abbaye and that was over an ideal distance – this isn't.
With all this in mind there are two I feel are overpriced, starting with SIGNS OF BLESSING at 14/1 (general odds).
There's nothing fancy about this selection, he's just an improving Group One winner that has been underestimated for reasons I can't really fathom.
Perhaps it was the unsatisfactory way the Prix Maurice de Gheest unfolded, with a lengthy delay already giving the form a dubious look even before the tragic end to Gold-Fun's life in the closing stages.
Yet Signs Of Blessing held it all together well that day, dominating from the front end and finishing off his race well to see off Donjuan Triumphant and others.
That was an improvement on his good third in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot, where he only gave way to Twilight Son and the aforementioned Gold-Fun in the closing stages.
On that form alone he shouldn't be over twice the price of Twilight Son, and that's without taking into account his subsequent improvement.
The key to him has been the switch to front-running tactics since being gelded and he could get an easy lead from his far side draw in this race judging by the lack of pace around him.
Any rain will be of a benefit to him and the same can be said about the other one I like in the race, BRANDO, who is also worth a bet at 14/1 (general price).
His 116 rating was well-earned in the Ayr Gold Cup and that's the same mark as Quiet Reflection, while he's considered better than the likes of The Tin Man and Librisa Breeze who are both much shorter than him in the market.
That doesn't seem right, especially when you consider his rapid progression over six furlongs.
His last three starts over six have yielded a handicap win off 85 last September, an excellent second in the Wokingham off 101 here in June and then that Ayr Gold Cup victory off 110 last time out.
If you also just look at his runs when there has been some cut in the ground he's on a similar upward curve, so the combination of six and a bit of soft in the going description would be ideal – the more rain the better for him.
Even so, with the ground as it is at present (Good, Good to Soft in places) he looks value at 14s, as the enormity of that Ayr Gold Cup win off such a lofty mark just doesn't seem to have been given the credit it deserves by the market.
In the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Seventh Heaven undoubtedly sets the standard but there are reasons to take her on at 2/1.
She hasn't been seen since August for starters, her career-best win in the Yorkshire Oaks was achieved on fast ground and she's been drawn 13 of 13 which increases the chance of her encountering traffic problems during the race.
If those factors do contribute to a defeat that's not to say Aidan O'Brien won't win another Group One anyway and I do like the look of his apparent third string, PRETTY PERFECT, at 25/1 (general odds).
This Galileo filly was well beaten by Seventh Heaven in the Irish Oaks, but she got much closer at York and then put in a career-best last time in the DFS Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster where she almost ran the legs off Simple Verse.
Three lengths clear at the furlong pole after setting a good gallop throughout, Pretty Perfect was only beaten a quarter-of-a-length on the line and pulled five lengths clear of the rest.
Mill Springs, who tried to go with Pretty Perfect from the outset, dropped out to finish last, giving you some indication of how well the Ballydoyle filly kept up the strong gallop into a strong headwind over 1m6f.
There seems little doubt that Pretty Perfect will try and dominate off the front end here and there is a chance she could get an easy lead as not much else likes to go forward. Journey does, and Frankie Dettori will probably keep close tabs on her, but as long as they don't go too hard up front I can see Pretty Perfect going very well indeed.
She looks likely to be in a good position on the turn for home at least, keeping out of trouble, and though it has to be acknowledged she could be in there to set things up for Seventh Heaven I think this race could be well suited to her tactics.
The 33s has gone but I'm happy to take the general 25s about her.
Andrew Balding's horse hasn't run in a handicap for two seasons and he broke a long losing run last time when landing a four-runner conditions race at Bath, beating a couple of rivals well that are rated 104-105.
However, that was the first time he'd run over a mile since being beaten just over three lengths by Solow in the Sussex Stakes last year, when he was a bona fide 116 horse that finished in front of a couple of Group One winners.
Things haven't dropped his way since then, but much of the time he's been too keen over seven furlongs in small fields and I'm more than hopeful that a big-field handicap is going to play to his strengths.
The last twice he's run in a field with more than 12 runners he's won the Group Two Challenge Stakes and finished a close-up sixth in a Lockinge, two pieces of form that give him a serious chance off 105 on Saturday (that first piece of form coming in the month of October a couple of years ago).
It seems strange this is the first time Jamie Spencer has ridden him since his juvenile days given his association with owner Fitri Hay, but it's better late than never as far as that's concerned considering the jockey's prowess on the Ascot straight course.
Plenty will have been lined up for this massive pot and it's obviously a really tough handicap, but I liked how Here Comes When seemed to settle better last time and that could be a timely confidence boost ahead of what could be an ideal test.
True, he's flopped a couple of times at Ascot, but those efforts were on really fast ground and a bit of cut is an absolute pre-requisite for this horse.
Hopefully there will be enough juice in the ground for him, as he's well handicapped, the test should suit, he's got the ideal partner doing the steering and he's a big price to boot.
*Sky Bet are offering EXTRA VALUE to followers of the Sporting Life Value Bet column with guaranteed prices at 0900 on Saturday 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 0900(BST) on Saturday. 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: +378.04pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
Posted at 1700 BST on 14/10/16.
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