Horse Racing Tips: Paul Jacobs’ 5 value plays on Saturday from across the tracks

Some punts in the UK and Ireland from our form fanatic.

Paul Jacobs

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* All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.

12:12 at Hereford – Big Difference

A class four, 0-120 conditional jockeys handicap chase may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you see an edge in such events and you feel that the market is onside then it shouldn’t make any different to having a wager in a grade one championship event.

As the betting suggests this is a wide open staying affair and Gleno, Dhowin, the mightily in form Ebony Gale, and First Class Return all have claims of sorts.

However, I must admit I am rather sweet on Ben Pauling’s charge Big Difference who ran well in three races from February through April, and looked set to be placed second at the very least in the Highland Grand National at Perth on the last of those runs eight months ago before departing at the last obstacle when in the process of staying on very strongly.

The fact that he hasn’t seen a racecourse since then is of no consequence to me as he has a cracking record when fresh and, taking in Luca Morgan’s claim, the selection is now 6lbs lower in the ratings.

Yes, he remains a maiden over the larger obstacles, but he has only run two below par races, both times coming on quite deep ground so if the rain stays away he could make his light weight tell on his seasonal debut.

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14:47 at Fairyhouse – Mick The Jiver, Journey West

These mid range staying handicap hurdles have always been a big draw for me and this one looks a fascinating betting heat, so much so that with the respective prices on offer, I think we can be double handed.

Winner of a maiden point to point, Burnt Ash could be anything off a mark of 93 especially with his shrewd handler in such good form, while the consistent Ruler of Dubai and Final Orders (really good second at Punchestown last time out when just run out of things late on) are both respected in what amounts to an ordinary race at this level.

Rated fully 33lbs higher over fences, the old boy Mick The Jiver is well worth a second glance. Trips shy of three miles have previously suited him better, but he served notice that there was still life in the old boy yet when a staying-on fourth over shorter at Clonmel last time out, his second start of the campaign.

Set to race off the same mark here with the promising 5lbs claimer Shane Fitzgerald on board, he looks sure to play a part as long as there isn’t too much rain.

But I want to back up the 11-year-old with another play and hopefully at an even bigger price, although I could see Journey West being a springer in the market.

The key race to look at when assessing his chance was his eye catching staying on ninth of 16 in a Fairyhouse maiden in April when his jockey hardly moved a muscle. His run first time up this season at the beginning of October is safely ignored as he was badly hampered at the first flight and he runs off a 2lb lower mark.

With only five runs under his belt the son of Westerner is thoroughly unexposed and I fancy he could take a big step forward here of his feather weight under his competent young partner.

15:35 at Cheltenham – Martello Sky

The mares’ division is gradually getting stronger as prize money and opportunities improve and as much as top weight Indefatigable has solid claims despite the steadier of 11-12, she readily landed the West Yorkshire Hurdle at the start of the season, but had a fitness advantage and that race very much fell apart in her favour. Her subsequent run at Newbury was too bad to be true, but she has a tough task on here against some progressive types.

The unbeaten four-year-old Trapista has been well backed since the initial declarations came out and there is little doubt that she was impressive at Huntingdon on her British debut and the time figure was good, but I prefer to side with a mare with solid form on her side and giving up 9lbs to the Jonjo O’Neill charge. Martello Sky looks rock solid and to my eyes should be favourite over the four-year-old.

I really fancied her to run a huge race in the Dawn Run at the Cheltenham Festival, but she jumped poorly that day, probably finding the minimum trip against her, before staying on late in the day.

Three runs over two and a half miles since then has confirmed the impression that she needs a trip and I am not sure that Adrian Heskin rode her to best effect at Aintree last time out when fourth behind the smart Brewin’upastorm.

Decent ground has always served her best and it is worth remembering that she is four from six over hurdles and at this trip she remains a work in progress and, to my eyes, a Grade One mare in the making possibly over three miles in time.

16:30 at Newcastle – Blackheath

There was a time that off a rating of 72 over a stiff six furlongs that you would simply not let this six-year-old go unbacked.

But every time he has run over that trip in the past few months he has looked badly short of pace even on his favoured Tapeta surface at the Gosforth Park venue. But if the last outing here on December 3rd is anything to go by then he is crying out for a return to a seventh furlong.

On the back foot from the start that day, Connor Beasley never looked happy on the old boy and he was noticeably badly outpaced as the field of 14 came to the quarter mile marker. Once he did manage to pick up, the bird had flown in the form of Spartan Fighter.

The last named will take on the selection again here but, on 4lbs better terms and despite the draw in stall two on the far side of the track, I expect the Michael Dods’ trained gelding Blackheath to reverse that form with the extra yardage in his favour.

Of his rivals, I also have the utmost respect for One Hart who finally has a good draw closer to the stands’ side fence and is a full 6lbs below his last winning mark. The four-year-old makes his debut at Newcastle after running multiple times at Wolverhampton and I reckon he will be well suited to the terrain here.

Saturday’s Horse Racing Tips

12:12 at Hereford – Big Difference
14:47 at Fairyhouse – Mick The Jiver, Journey West
15:35 at Cheltenham – Martello Sky
16:30 at Newcastle – Blackheath

* All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.

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