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.
Sandown 14:40 Class 2 Handicap 1m (Good)
Russian Realm is the clear favourite but for me has too much to prove to justify his position at the head of the market. St Moritz is very well weighted on old form but needs to take another step forward to get involved and 7/1 seems a bit stingy. 8/1 for Gabrial’s Kaka seems fair enough if he can get back to his spring form, which he may well do with excuses for the last two runs. Brazos is the pick of the 3 year olds and 10/1 seems decent value (a word of caution, only one 3 year old has won this in the last 10 years). If Snowboarder can come on from his last run then with the ease in weights the 16/1 on offer could be extremely good value. Prince of Johanne has been sliding down the weights but came good to win this last year and at 14/1 it is worth taking the chance that he will do so again.
Haydock 15:30 Class 2 Handicap 1m 4f (Good)
For once I can’t argue at all with the head of the market. The relatively unexposed Havana Cooler is the worthy favourite, and 4/1 is about right for his chances. Mighty Yar was beaten favourite last time but with only 5 runs behind him he could bounce back and the early price of 8/1 reflects that. Magic Hurricane should handle the ground and has an obvious chance if he continues to progress, but again I wouldn’t take anything less than the 7/1 on offer. The more exposed Salutation ran a blinder last time and may still have more to come as a 4 year old and 10/1 seems fair. The one that sticks out a mile for me as a value bet is Blue Surf. He has figures similar to those at the head of the market and although he is more exposed and could find one or two improvers too good for him, the form is rock solid and I’ll be backing him each way at a generous early price of 16/1.