With a terrific Saturday of racing ahead, Alan Dudman is looking for a place lay in Newbury's Hennessy Gold Cup and an improver for the evening card at Wolverhampton...
"With his current official rating, he could be the type to move up to three figures with an eye on a few of those Meydan races - he fits the profile (especially with his USA pedigree). Plus, this is not a strong 0-100 considering it is a £19,000 race."
World Hurdle winner Cole Harden is the big gun in the race, and he was 13/8 overnight on the Sportsbook, whilst Nicky Henderson's Whisper will have his backers.
However, the claims of Thistlecrack at a decent price of 4/1 look too good to turn down. The seven-year-old could have a big season as a staying hurdler, and confirmed himself as a leading novice from last term by landing the Aintree Grade 1 Sefton.
Some of the end of season Liverpool form can be a bit dodgy with horses blowing out after Cheltenham, but he confirmed that run with an excellent second at the Punchestown Festival - and that's when he shaped like a proper stayer.
The horse has gears for a three miler, and often you'll see 'cruise' and 'smooth' in a Thistlecrack race commentary. His trainer Colin Tizzard has struck a winner already at the Hennessy meeting, and he certainly has a really exciting horse on his hands. He has scored in heavy and soft going, and receives weight from his two main rivals.
15:00 Newbury - Can Bobs prove his Hennessy worth again?
I have to 'fess up here, I backed John Ferguson's Purple Bay at Aintree last month - the race in which Bobs Worth beat the returning Simonsig over hurdles. And for all it was great to see a champion back, he should be opposed in a wide open renewal of the Hennessy.
Yes the former Gold Cup winner, and victor of this very contest in 2012 (beating my all-time favourite Tidal Bay) is very well handicapped, but I cannot believe that effort at Aintree makes him a 9/1 shot here. He was 11/1 for his seasonal reappearance (taking on two horses that weren't 100% ready), and yet he is a similar price for Newbury in a race that will take so much more to win.
Purple Bay needed the run in Liverpool, Commissioned is not reliable, and both gave a massive head start to Bobs Worth. Whilst the runner-up hadn't been seen for nearly 1000 days. I just cannot trust that race, and I will look to take him on in the place market.
At 3.259/4 he is a touch too big to lay in the place market, so hopefully we can get matched at around 1.9010/11 in running.
18:15 Wolverhampton - Godolphin to continue hot streak
We haven't seen Winslow since August 2014, but I am happy to take a slight risk in backing a horse from a 469 day lay-off.
In fact, the absence at least explains why he ran so poorly at Lingfield two summers ago. He sweated up beforehand and just ran no sort of race, but it's still very early days as he now goes handicapping from a mark of 93 and comes into the contest at a different angle from his rivals.
His other juvenile efforts were excellent. He could have won at Ascot on debut, and he landed an early season Haydock Maiden in good style - travelling well to two furlongs out, picking up, and really asserting strongly in the latter stages.
He's a son of Distorted Humour, and has a quick low action. So there's hope that he should be even better on the surface at Wolverhampton.
With his current official rating, he could be the type to move up to three figures with an eye on a few of those Meydan races - he fits the profile (especially with his USA pedigree). Plus, this is not a strong 0-100 considering it is a £19,000 race.
Saturday's Recommended Bets
Back Thistlecrack @ 4/1 in the 14:25 at Newbury
Place Lay Bobs Worth @ 1.9010/11 in-running in the 15:00 at Newbury
Back Winslow @ 4.2016/5 in the 18:15 at Wolverhampton
Profit and loss since column launch (one point each bet excluding advised in-running trades)
Last week total: + 3.40
This week total: -1.00
Running total: +24.85