Sometimes being a ‘value’ punter can make you become a bit greedy, so when I saw there was ‘only’ 7/1 about AMEDEO MODIGLIANI in the Balmoral Handicap 16.40 on Saturday, the air turned blue and I stubbornly refused to have a bet.
However, on revisiting the form book and thinking surely Cambridgeshire hero Lord North can’t defy a Group One/Two mark of 110, I have decided to have an each-way play on the Ballydoyle runner, in the hope that there is significant improvement to come from the son of Galileo.
There is little doubt that his first run back in a Listed race at Cork, following a six-month break, was badly needed and back on the deep ground he seemed to relish when landing his maiden two years ago.
I fancy we could be on a well-handicapped animal off a mark of 98.
After all, why would Aidan O’Brien keep him in training if he didn’t think this lightly- raced sort could pick up a nice prize, especially as he hasn’t been gelded?
I was desperately hoping that the regular track would dry out enough to say soft (heavy in places) for John Gosden to withdraw Stradivarius from the Long Distance Cup which has now been swapped to 14.10.
Sadly, the executive have foiled my cunning plan and decided to switch to the National Hunt track. I’ve always hated establishment!
I have a lovely looking each-way wager on stable mate Royal Line at 33/1 who is now a fraction of those odds, while Aidan O’Brien had continually suggested throughout Kew Gardens 16-race career, that he wanted fast ground, yet refuses to go for the Melbourne Cup, which looks an obvious target.
Seeing as anything the wrong side of 6/4 has never been my port of call, I have settled on the side of BIN BATTUTA who I think has been crying out for some dig in the ground in his career and finally gets it here.
The son of Dubawi has never raced over two miles before and has the potential to take a huge step forward for those two factors and rates the each-way play now at an absolutely massive offering of 50/1!
But my best value wager at Ascot comes in the opening Champions Sprint Stakes at 13.35 where I believe KEYSTROKE is hugely over-priced at 66/1 to hit Paddy’s 4 places.
Do I think he can reverse recent form with Cape Byron and win this speedsters crown?….nope, but if he is ridden by Adam Kirby for a place, the seven-year-old can pick up the pieces late on and hit the frame.
The remainder of my weekend wagers are away from the Berkshire track with MAGICAL EFFECT likely to be the source of my attentions in the Catterick 14.50.
Ruth Carr’s charge has finally been shown some mercy by the handicapper, following a fallow time having dropped from a 2018 high of 86 down to his current rating of 75.
The other bonus is that he has finally shown bits and pieces of form on his last two starts at Pontefract and Redcar that suggests his turn is just around the corner.
The deep ground certainly won’t hinder him here.
Our final port of call will be at Wolverhampton where KING OSWALD is taken to defy top weight in the opening extended mile handicap at 17.05.
The old boy is back down to his last winning mark and with the hugely impressive Megan Nicholls on board – the partnership can take care of Loose Chippings and company.
The feature race at the Dunstall Park track is a Class 3 handicap over 1m 4f at 19.45 and represents the easiest task this season for the Marco Botti-trained AL HAMDANY. This classy five-year-old has been plying his trade in some of the top middle distance handicaps all season and this looks a viable opening.
He has surprisingly only raced at the track twice with form figures of 2,3, both off higher marks – I’ll be surprised if he is not involved at the business end here.
*Prices correct at time of publishing