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.
Newmarket 15:00 Class 2 Handicap 6f (Soft)
The current joint favourite Goldream ran a cracker last time on good to firm ground and has obvious claims based on that. The opening price of around 11/2 looks about right but there is enough doubt about him reproducing that form on soft ground for me to look elsewhere. The other jolly Don’t Bother Me was also of interest to me dropping down in trip, however again there is enough doubt for me to take this one also at 11/2. Hoodna is one that interests me. He is unexposed and needs to prove himself in first time hood and on this surface, but there is enough juice in the opening price of 12/1 to take a chance with him. The other one I like is Picture Dealer, who was fairly progressive last year and ran a decent comeback race on soft ground so looks reasonable value at an opening price of 14/1.
Newmarket 15:35 Class 2 Handicap 1m4f (Soft)
If Mighty Yar acts on the ground and continues his progress then he could well be the one to beat, and there is a slither of value in the opening price of 7/2. Fellow jolly Rye House also has a good chance on his comeback run, however he needs to improve again over a longer trip and 7/2 looks a little too short for me. Plutocracy was progressive last year and I wouldn’t put anyone off backing this one, however with question marks against fitness and ground I’ll watch him on this occasion. Looking further down the market, conditions look fine for Macbeth if he is ready to go first time and I’m happy to take a chance at 25/1.
York 14:20 Class 1 Listed 1m6f (Good to soft)
The top 2 in the betting, First Mohican and Rawaki, both hold their chances if building on recent efforts, but with proven course form I prefer Clever Cookie at 6/1 to improve again at the longer trip. Shwaiman has shown enough in his two races this year to suggest that he has improved as a 4 year old, so at 14/1 represents decent value. Party Line acts with cut and if he comes on for his comeback run is on a fair mark and I’ll be playing her each way at 33/1.
York 14:50 Class 2 Handicap 5f (Good to soft)
Alben Star is in great heart at the moment, but with his best form on AW surfaces or ground quicker than he is likely to get here, I’ll swerve him as favourite. Monsieur Joe on the other hand ran his best race for some time when beating several of these over course and distance last time, if he can continue in that vein of form then a five pound rise might not be enough to stop him at a decent price of 11/1. Secret Witness may have got much closer to Monsieur Joe with a clear run last time, with a similar performance and better luck in running he also has a shout at 12/1.