Johnny Ward's value betting: Support Kauto in drive for five
I N a recent stable tour, trainer Paul Nicholls said that Kauto Star seemed as good as he had ever been. The horse need not even justify that endorsement and he can still win the King George VI Chase for the fifth time on December 26.
The ten-year-old will likely find it difficult to reclaim the Gold Cup next March, but his record around Kempton is incredibly good. Little wonder he thrives there: the easy three miles demands less stamina and more speed, which he has always had in abundance relative to other staying chasers -- and even top two-mile horses not long ago.
Kauto Star flopped in the Gold Cup this year but that was mainly down to one bad mistake, prior to which his jumping had been breathtaking. He had earlier won the King George by 30 lengths and he should take it for the fifth time barring accidents.
Long Run still has a long way to go before he can be considered in the same bracket as Kauto Star, while Imperial Commander is third-favourite but he is generally always worth taking on away from Cheltenham. After that, the betting brings in the likes of Somersby and Planet Of Sound, neither of which would get Kauto Star off the bridle.
He returns in the Grade One JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal on November 6 so take the 2/1 before then.
Kauto Star to win King George, 2pts win at 2/1 (general)
THE Champions' League, despite its profile and popularity, continuously offers good betting opportunities -- mainly because punters are less inclined to have longer-term bets. 'Ricks' -- incorrect prices which usually prove ephemeral because they quickly attract sizeable wagers -- last longer than they should.
Lyon should not be 1/2 to win Group B with Coral. The French side have won their opening three games and are six points clear of third place. Their only realistic rival is probably Schalke, who face Les Gones at home but also have to travel to Benfica and Hapoel Tel Aviv.
Similarly, Valencia should not be 1/3 to get out of Group C. They face Rangers and Bursaspor at home and two wins from those matches will probably put them through. Rangers were magnificent against them midweek, but they really needed to win the match and will find it very difficult from now on, with two of their matches on the road and the other one at home to Manchester United.
Double up the two selections and you should double your money.
Lyon to win Group B (1/2) and Valencia to qualify from Group C (1/3) of Champions League, 2pts double at evens (Coral)
HIGH Magic is the horse to beat in Wexford's opening New Ross Maiden Hurdle today, but there is a sound basis for worry about his temperament.
John O'Shea does well with his Flat recruits to hurdling, but he has yet to entice a success out of this four-year-old -- doubtless through no fault of the trainer. He was placed four times on the Flat and made an encouraging start to his jumps agenda when beaten a head in Down Royal in August.
That form is nothing special but he bettered it when just touched off by Big Game Hunter at Clonmel. The decision to award him the race in a stewards' enquiry was incredible to almost everyone except the active stewards that day and it was hastily reversed in an appeal.
The stewards seemingly did not conclude that High Magic was reluctant to go by Big Game Hunter, which was flat out for the stretch of the straight while he cantered alongside him. There is every chance that this maiden will dodge the issue today and an in-running lay on Betfair at 2 (even money) is advised. Place it pre-race to be left in-running -- a slightly risky strategy, but one that can pay off.
Lay High Magic in-running in Wexford, 1pt at 2 (1pt liability, Betfair)
YEAR TO DATE
Profit to €10 stake: €191.37
Still Running: €150