Ben Linfoot has four Value Bet selections for Saturday's feature action at Ascot, including the 27-runner Victoria Cup.
Recommended Bets: Value Bet
The big-field Ascot handicaps return this weekend and the Totescoop6 Victoria Cup has 27 runners to pick from. Plenty will be theorising where the best place to be drawn is, but while the early pace looks to be middle to stands’ side it might well not matter if they all come down the middle again like they did last year.
If that’s the case it’ll all be about timing and when it comes to delaying a challenge until the right moment on the Ascot straight course Jamie Spencer has few peers.
With that in mind his mount TAUREAN STAR is well worth backing at 14/1 (William Hill & Betway, 12/1 General) and his jockey booking is not the only thing to recommend him.
This race is often won by an unexposed, improving, four-year-old and Taurean Star ticks those boxes, while he’s twice a winner at this track, both times on the straight course, both times ridden by Spencer.
A year ago he gave 6lb to Banksea and beat him half a length when winning the Mitie Total Security Handicap on the Friday evening of this fixture, and that horse is rated 103 now after winning the Spring Cup on his reappearance at Newbury.
Taurean Star is only rated 91, but his progression was halted when he had a setback after his last run as a three-year-old in August and he gave the broadest of hints he’s ready to resume his upward curve when winning on his seasonal reappearance at Yarmouth.
Spencer gave him a cracking ride that day as he switched him to the stands’ side from his far-side draw, and then he drifted over to circle the field again as he won cosily, by a neck, without using his whip.
A 2lb rise for that wasn’t harsh at all and, while he goes well fresh, he did shape as though he was a horse with plenty more to give.
He stays further, but that’s no bad thing in a big field like this and that Yarmouth win was over seven so he should be able to travel into this well.
Perhaps Spencer will have to switch him inside again from his far-side draw in seven, but with the Michael Bell stable in such good form there a very few negatives and 14s is a good price.
I’ll be splitting stakes on him and HORS DE COMBAT at 20/1 (General), and he’s drawn towards the stands’ side in 22.
This horse is on a long losing run, but he’s only had three starts for new trainer Denis Coakley and he looks to be back to his very best.
Beaten a neck off a mark of 102 by the in-form Oh This Is Us at Bath last time, he ran on really strongly at the finish and might’ve won in another few yards.
He needs everything to go right for him, but I think the drop back to seven furlongs for the first time since he was second in a Group Three at Newmarket a couple of years ago could be the key.
Coakley won this race three years ago with a similar type in Gabriel’s Lad, as he had Ascot form in his locker, like Hors De Combat, who was a close-up third in the Britannia and second in the Listed Paradise Stakes earlier in his career.
With Jim Crowley booked to do the steering Coakley means business again and at 20/1 he makes plenty of appeal.
Earlier on the card Alan King’s WILLIAM HUNTER looks a big price at 16s (Paddy Power, Betfair Sportsbook) in the Rosling King Handicap (2.15).
This horse didn’t appear to be suited by Epsom last time and he was keen in the early stages, but considering all that he ran a perfectly fine race in fourth with this return to Ascot in mind.
The five-year-old was a comfortable winner at this track last September, off just a 4lb lower mark, and with a couple of runs under his belt this season he should be fighting fit in his bid to win here again.
Kieran Shoemark takes off 3lb, the testing nature of the course suits him perfectly and, though he’s taking on some improving and in-form rivals, he’s been underestimated as he looks sure to run right up to his best form.
Finally, EJAYTEEKAY is worth a bet at 12/1 (General) in the Club Godolphin EBF “Breeders’ Series” Fillies’ Handicap (3.25) with Hughie Morrison’s horses in such good form.
This Big Bad Bob filly took a while to get the hang of things as a three-year-old but there were clear signs that she was ready to strike off a mark of 74 when an unlucky loser at Windsor on her final start last year.
She took advantage off that same rating on her seasonal reappearance at Chelmsford, just getting the better of a race-fit rival and shaping as though she’d come on for the run.
It didn’t happen for her on her only subsequent start at Lingfield, as she was much too keen on the outside and weakened into last.
I’m happy to put a line through that, though, and judging by a good run in maiden company at Newmarket in her youth there’s a good chance this straight mile could really suit.
Sky Bet Price Promise
*Sky Bet are offering EXTRA VALUE to followers of the Sporting Life Value Bet column with guaranteed advertised prices for at least 15 minutes from 6pm every Friday.
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: +346.14pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
Posted at 1700 BST on 12/05/17.