Value Bet: Worth the Wait

Ben Linfoot's Value Bet has found the winners of the last two Betfair Hurdles at 25/1 and 20/1 – don't miss his Saturday preview.

Wait For Me: Worth a bet in the Betfair Hurdle

Value Bet Selections

1pt win Wait For Me at 14/1 in 3.35 Newbury
1pt e.w Ballyhill at 40/1 in 3.35 Newbury

It's the smallest field for a Betfair Hurdle since the rearranged version in 2011 and small fields are the order of the day.

Only three go in the Betfair Denman Chase although Native River takes on Bristol De Mai in a fascinating contest, while Altior and Fox Norton also face off in what is likely to be a four-runner Game Spirit just after that.

Both are interesting little races, and there are a few of those at Warwick as well, but none appeal from a betting perspective so it's all about the feature as far as I'm concerned.

And this is a strange renewal of the Betfair Hurdle. In what is normally a 20-plus runner affair we usually have a guaranteed good gallop but I'm not sure that will be the case on Saturday.

None of the 16 that are due to go to post usually make the running and at least half the field are what you would consider to be hold-up horses.

Maybe Clyne, 5lb well-in, will go forward. He likes to race prominently and the possibility of him getting an easy lead in front should appeal to Adam Wedge, while Ballyandy wouldn't want to be caught out tactically so I'm sure Sam Twiston-Davies will have him handy as well.

These two head the market along with Movewiththetimes, but all the juice has been squeezed out of their current odds with all three trading around the 5/1 mark.

Champion Bumper winner Ballyandy could be very well handicapped, but it is disappointing how he hasn't got his head in front over hurdles yet and he seemed to lack a gear when beaten by Moon Racer and Messire Des Obeaux.

That's good form but he was getting weight from both rivals and there is the possibility he'll be tapped for toe this weekend.

Likewise, Movewiththetimes looks like a horse that will be tackling further in time and he's probably one for the future rather than this race, while I'm not as convinced as the market that Clyne deserves to be 5lb well-in after chasing home The New One on his last start.

With that trio worth taking on, and with the potential lack of a strong gallop in mind, I want a classy speed horse who will handle conditions on my side and Philip Hobbs' WAIT FOR ME ticks those boxes at 14/1 (Coral, 12s general).

This horse has run well at Newbury before, as he chased home Buveur D'air when making plenty of errors on his hurdling debut and he returned to the track on his next start when comfortably seeing off the now 139-rated Potters Legend by seven lengths.

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Both of those runs came on soft ground so he'll be comfortable in the conditions and his career-best run came in the County Hurdle when fourth in a first-time hood last March.

The headgear has been left off in his two starts this campaign, but the hood returns this weekend and that's a sure-fire sign that Hobbs has been working back from the Betfair Hurdle all season long.

With the hood back on the hope is he'll settle better than last time, even if it's a bit of a messy gallop. He was keen for the first mile at Cheltenham and he charted a wide passage, too, under Richard Johnson, but he still came there tanking when taking up the running on the turn for home.

His earlier exertions caught up with him up the hill, but he shaped very encouragingly with this race in mind and it should be noted he was sent off favourite for both of his starts this season.

The first of those came at Kempton on December 27 against a bunch of rivals who mostly had a race-fitness advantage over him. It's a race that's produced a Betfair Hurdle winner in recent times, too, as Violet Dancer was second at Kempton before winning at Newbury in 2015.

A rusty Wait For Me hit the last when weakening out of contention at Kempton, but he wasn't beaten far and he gets a pull at the weights with Saturday's rivals Beltor and William H Bonney on that run.

William H Bonney reversed the form at Cheltenham, but Wait For Me gets a 4lb pull at the weights for less than four lengths and that can help him come out on top this time.

Neither Hobbs nor Johnson have ever won the Betfair Hurdle, but they have come close on occasions with Rooster Booster and Cheltenian springing to mind. Johnson had never won the Hennessy, either, until Native River earlier this season, and Wait For Me can help him tick another big-race omission off a dwindling list.

In the (possibly delusional) hope that the 16 declared all line up on Saturday I am going to put one up each-way as well as I can't help but feel BALLYHILL has been overlooked in the betting at 40/1 (bet365, Bet Victor, William Hill ¼ 1,2,3,4).

Unlike stablemate Ballyandy he was disappointing in bumpers but he's improved hugely for going over hurdles, winning his first two starts in the sphere at Hereford and Ludlow at the start of the season.

The second of those wins came over 2m5f, but it's no bad thing to have a strong stayer on your side when the ground is testing in this race and he was far from disgraced carrying penalties in good novice hurdles at Haydock, Cheltenham and Kempton at the end of last year.

At Cheltenham he split William Henry and Poetic Rhythm, two horses that finished second and third behind Wholestone in the recent Neptune trial at the same track on trials day, and he was giving 10lb to the duo as well, even if that was offset by Tom Humphries' 10lb claim.

His profile is almost identical to the same stable's 2014 Betfair Hurdle winner Splash Of Ginge, as he won a maiden hurdle early in his campaign before being beaten in graded contests prior to his Betfair win.

Ginge was beaten 16 lengths in the Neptune trial at Warwick on his last start before he won at Newbury and Ballyhill goes into Saturday's race on the back of a similar effort, as he was beaten 21 lengths in the same race.

Ryan Hatch took 7lb off Splash Of Ginge and Humphries claims the same off Ballyhill, and they're a similar price too.

His more high-profile stablemate might be casting a shadow over him, but Ballyhill is a very interesting contender in his own right and at 40/1 he's big enough to justify each-way support.

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: +400.14pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).

Click here for full Value Bet record.

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Posted at 1655 GMT on 10/02/2017.

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