Our in-form tipster previews the big-race action this Saturday and has a couple of recommended bets for Newbury and the Curragh.
- 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 and Ireland.
- Following all of Matt’s tips to advertised stakes/odds since he took over from Ben Linfoot in June 2020 would have produced 116pts profit.
- Last year’s winners included Desert Crown antepost in the Derby at 25/1 and Noble Yeats at 50/1 in the National, while last week he tipped Grand Annual winner Maskada at 25/1, and Stage Star at 11/1.
Value Bet tips: Saturday, March 25
1pt win Ebonello in 2.40 Newbury at 20/1 (General)
1pt win Joe Masseria in 3.25 Curragh at 33/1 (Paddy Power, Betfair, bet365)
Sky Bet odds | Paddy Power | Betfair Sportsbook
The Irish Flat season may be upon us but it’ll most likely resemble deepest midwinter at the Curragh this Saturday with the ground described as soft to heavy, heavy in places and there are more showers in the forecast.
It’s not made it onto the ITV schedule unfortunately but that won’t stop me having a good crack at the Paddy Power Irish Lincolnshire as it looks a terrific betting heat, featuring a couple of interesting – and clearly well-fancied – British raiders in Totally Charming and Lattam.
George Boughey hasn’t missed a trick in securing the services of four-time (and current) Irish champion jockey Colin Keane for his Totally Charming and this horse was last seen winning by a couple of lengths at Doncaster (heavy) from Bopedro, a runner I’ve already backed for the Lincoln on April 1.
He was bumped up 5lb for that Town Moor success in October and the Irish handicapper has shovelled on another 3lb for good measure so things are going to be more difficult this time around, but Totally Charming has only had the 11 starts in his life and it would be folly to think he’s already peaked heading into his five-year-old campaign.
Towards the other end of the weights, William Haggas has Lattam lurking on a dangerous mark after he initially failed to come up to scratch when switched to handicaps following two wins in the north of England last summer.
He did go off 5/4 favourite on the first occasion, though, so is clearly thought well enough handicapped, while Haggas’ fine record in Ireland adds further intrigue when it comes to this lightly-raced son of Lope De Vega.
His pedigree suggests he should cope with a deep surface but we don’t know that just yet and the other one towards the head of the betting I’ll oppose on account of the going is Donnacha O’Brien’s Emporio.
It wouldn’t be at all surprising if this ends up being the best-handicapped horse in the field in time, and it’s not that he hasn’t got form on soft ground, but his two career wins have come on good to firm and good, and he just moves so stylishly I’d be amazed if he doesn’t land a big one with the sun on his back a little later into the spring/summer.
The ex-Sir Michael Stoute-trained Mashhoor deserves a significant mention too for last year’s winning handler Johnny Murtagh as he showed a brilliant turn of foot to win over 10 furlongs here last May before running as though something were amiss on his only subsequent start in the Duke Of Edinburgh (1m4f) at Royal Ascot.
Dropping right back in trip could be a good move for him but he’s another who surely won’t want a slog in the mud to be seen at his very best.
Ado McGuinness declared 10 (including the first reserve) and the closest I came to recommending one of his was new recruit Finans Bay, who shaped well when third to stablemate Bowerman on his debut for the yard at Dundalk earlier in the month.
Having raced freely early on, that should put him spot-on for this and he’s got a heavy-ground maiden win to his name if you go back far enough through his form for Mick Halford, but at the odds I’d rather side with Noel Meade’s proven mud-lover JOE MASSERIA.
He’s not got the latent class of a lot of these but he has a good attitude and won a nice handicap over the extended mile on soft ground at Galway last July.
It initially looked like a subsequent 10lb rise in the ratings had brought his progress to an immediate halt but the last run of 2022, when beaten just a couple of lengths by Saltonstall in fourth over a mile at Leopardstown, showed otherwise and it’s not hard to envisage another slice of improvement coming from Joe Masseria as a four-year-old this term.
The ground cannot be soft enough for him, he loves to chase a strong gallop and might get a nice set-up despite being drawn out wide as Leigh Roche will look to stay out of trouble before making up ground from out wide. If he’d drawn low then the inevitable traffic problems when turning into the straight would have been a nightmare but I don’t mind the 28 box at all for this horse, who rates a fair bet.
As for the action that has made the ITV4 programme, we can happily leave Meydan well alone although big things are clearly expected of the Crisford-trained Algiers in the Dubai World Cup and he could produce something spectacular.
I’m not exactly bowled over by the offering from Kelso either, where the Make Your Best Bet At BetVictor Handicap Chase is the big draw.
Forward Plan is the blindingly obvious improver in the field and a 10lb rise for his latest win might not be enough although he’s yet to jump fences on anything other than good ground so that’s a fresh challenge, for all that he won a handicap hurdle on soft back in November.
Sandy Thomson’s Hill Sixteen is close to making his way onto the Grand National shortlist – weather permitting of course – but Ryan Mania prefers stablemate Doyen Breed here and that’s understandable.
Another trainer with two in the field is the red-hot Lucinda Russell, with stable jockey Derek Fox riding the old-stager Big River ahead of… slightly less old-stager Mighty Thunder. Big River is 13 now and hasn’t shown much zest since winning here last January but he’s come crashing down the weights and is thrown in off 135 if able to recapture a bit of his previous sparkle.
I’ll give the veteran a miss around the 16/1 mark and for a second Saturday bet will head to Newbury and the British EBF BetVictor ‘National Hunt’ Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.
Not many trainers have quite the same handle on the mares’ novices’ division as Jamie Snowden, having won the big one at Cheltenham thanks to You Wear It Well, and I’m convinced his EBONELLO is over-priced here, despite apparent fears over the ground.
A bumper winner at Sedgefield on her third career start in October, she immediately took to hurdling when winning a maiden first time up at Wincanton the following month and although (neck) runner-up Passionate Pursuit reopposes on 4lb better terms this weekend, Ebonello looked much the best long-term prospect on the day.
Things haven’t really worked out since as she took a backward step on bad ground at Plumpton in December and it was disappointing to see her beaten at Carlisle last month, but that was probably another career-best effort on the face of it and one that smacked of a horse gaining more experience ahead of her handicap debut.
Nearly all of her family stay well so the extra yardage on offer here should be right up Ebonello’s street, especially in light of how strongly she finished at Carlisle, and although they’ve had loads of rain through the week, the ground I’ll take a chance on her coping with conditions.
Gavin Sheehan is brilliant around Newbury and getting Ebonello out in a prominent position early should help her avoid getting stuck in behind a bunch of rivals. I’ll have a win-only dart at 20s as even if it’s not this weekend, she’s expected to prove her initial mark (113) all wrong at some stage down the line.
Published at 1550 GMT on 24/03/23
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