My name is Mike Ashurst, and my speciality is finding value in the big Saturday afternoon handicaps for all codes of racing. Each Friday afternoon I will focus on some of the most valuable and/or competitive races of the weekend and try to find some early value. I will offer my opinion on the value or otherwise at the top of the market and highlight a few horses that I think might represent some decent early opportunities.
Ascot 16:25 Class 1 Group 1 6f (Good to firm)
Not a handicap, but certainly competitive enough to get stuck into. As I write, Slade Power (7/2) and Aljamaheer (9/2) have obvious chances and deserve to be at the head of the market. However, this looks competitive and at those prices I’m looking for value elsewhere. The 3 year olds Due Diligence (7/1) and Astaire (10/1) could both make the most of their weight allowance, and while I’m always wary of younger horses meeting more experienced rivals there could be a little bit of value in their prices. Gordon Lord Byron has similar form to the favourite, ran well last year despite running keenly so looks a generous price at 9/1 if he can handle the occasion better this time. Completely unexposed to British racing, if American Devil handles the ground then 20/1 looks a very fair each way shout.
Ascot 17:00 Class 2 Handicap 6f (Good to firm)
At the top of the market Ninjago (8/1, open to further improvement) and Seeking Magic (12/1, staying on over 5f last time) look worthy favourites and the prices look fair enough. Both have strong chances and I would be looking to back either of them if they were to drift in the market. I would have Rocky Ground as favourite, this horse is on the upgrade and provided he doesn’t bounce then the 12/1 on offer looks good value. The only worry for Baccarat is if he prefers a bit more cut, but at 14/1 I’m willing to take a chance on that. Elsewhere, Professor is very reliable, loves the going so I will be backing him each way at 20/1. Dandy Boy doesn’t seem to be the force he was, but at 5lb lower than when he won this race two years ago then in a strongly run race he doesn’t have to be and could make the frame at 20/1.