Best value bets for Saturday July 29 including International Stakes

Matt Brocklebank picks out the horses he thinks are over-priced among the ITV races at York and Ascot on a stellar Saturday of action.

  • The Value Bet is designed to generate long-term profit by searching for overpriced horses in the feature weekend races and at the big Festivals in the UK and Ireland.
  • Following all of Matt’s tips to advertised stakes/odds since he took over in June 2020 would have produced over 138pts profit, while he’s more than 46pts up for the year after 22/1 winner Killybegs Warrior at Newmarket.

Value Bet tips: Saturday, July 29

1pt win Magical Spirit in 2.40 York at 12/1 (bet365)

1pt win Hickory in 3.00 Ascot at 50/1 (General)

1pt win Zu Run in 3.00 Ascot at 66/1 (General)

Sky Bet odds | Paddy Power | Betfair Sportsbook

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Lux like a red-hot King George at Ascot

Saturday’s King George VI And Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes has everything you could wish for in the mid-summer highlight at Ascot, the deepest edition for 20 years since Alamshar emerged on top of the 10 Group 1 winners going into that year’s race, but there aren’t any obvious errors in the market at the time of writing.

The case made for Luxembourg at the start of the month was largely based around the field cutting up considerably from what we’ve ended up with following final declarations, although he’s a couple of points bigger now and would hardly be a shock winner under Seamie Heffernan.

Luxembourg, winner of the Irish Champion Stakes last year and the Tattersalls Gold Cup earlier this season, has unfinished business over this longer 12-furlong trip after picking up an injury on his only previous attempt in the Arc, while ground highly likely to still be on the easy side come Saturday afternoon should be ideal.

For all his appeal, it’s hard to argue Aidan O’Brien’s second-string (of four) represents clear value in such a hot race, with older horses Hukum and Emily Upjohn narrowly preferred to the Derby one-two Auguste Rodin and King Of Steel, who receive the 11lb weight-for-age allowance that has also helped Nathaniel, Taghrooda, Enable and Adayar prevail here since the aforementioned Alamshar.

Hukum is a fascinating case and the team behind Shadwell Estate have to be applauded for keeping their six-year-old entire in training this time around. The move has already paid off to some extent after he picked up his first 10-furlong Group 1 win, beating last year’s Derby winner Desert Crown in the Brigadier Gerard at Sandown and looking as good (and as quick) as ever in the process.

Everything about him suggests he’ll be happier still back over a mile and a half and he – along with the Gosden-trained Coronation Cup winner Emily Upjohn – should relish being held up off a searching gallop around here. They’re both course and distance winners with ease underfoot and are hard to oppose as a collective.

Take two in puzzling handicap

There’s no desperate desire to go back in with Luxembourg around 14/1 so onto the big betting race of the day on the Ascot card – the Moet & Chandon International Stakes.

Ramazan looked to win in spite of the fast ground at Haydock last time and he could improve enormously back on a softer surface, with this stiff seven furlongs sure to play to his strengths. Richard Fahey’s horse makes most appeal among those towards the head of the betting but there are a couple being completely overlooked I can’t let go unbacked and the first is the only other three-year-old in the race, ZU RUN.

The obvious – and they are blindingly obvious in fairness – negatives with him are that he’s never run in a race as strong as this and he’s effectively 6lb out of the weights to boot, but we’ve been here loads of times in the past with Andrew Balding going for plenty of handicaps with horses technically ‘wrong’ at the weights.

And he’s enjoyed some success too, including with the likes of Queen’s Star, Benzanno, Brick Rising, Collaboration, Elbereth and Ian Fleming who all defied the fact there were out of the handicap. Balding only seems to run them from out of the weights when significant improvement is expected and that’s not hard to imagine when it comes to the lightly-raced Zu Run, who admittedly didn’t appear to have progressed from his promising juvenile campaign in two starts in May and June earlier this year.

However, there was a lot more promise in his recent course and distance fourth, beaten a length and a half, as he’d surely have gone very close to winning had he not hung across the track (replay below).

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Cut in the ground suits the son of Zoustar by the looks of it and Jimmy Quinn – Balding’s go-to lightweight man in this sort of scenario – might be able to get the horse into a nice rhythm out in front towards the stands’ side as there isn’t a huge amount of early pace elsewhere in the race.

The other one I’m willing to risk at a huge price is James Fanshawe’s HICKORY. He’s a five-year-old now but he’s only raced seven times in his life and has won three including a Kempton handicap off a mark of 80 when comfortably getting the better of solid yardstick Maysong at the end of last year.

Things haven’t quite fallen for him in four outings this calendar year but he’d have a squeak based on his close fourth to Zip at Southwell in February and his second to Cruyff Turn at Redcar last month which was particularly pleasing.

There’s a reason he’s such a big price this weekend as he struggled home in last place at Doncaster just last Saturday but he never really looked on his game that day, racing away from the bulk of the action with no cover towards the centre of the track, and Hayley Turner looked after him when the writing was on the wall a furlong and a half from the finish.

Fanshawe is quick to react here by turning the horse out seven days on with a first-time visor and I like the booking of Saffie Osborne who rides the straight track at Ascot really well. As touched upon already, his high draw (26) might turn out to be the place to be too so, providing he’s on his best behaviour, Hickory looks up to making an impact.

Ryan mighty in Sky Bet Dash

Up at York there are three races on the ITV schedule and while Hukum’s stablemate Alflaila is quite tempting against My Prospero in the Sky Bet York Stakes, the Sky Bet Dash Handicap is the race to focus on.

Aberama Gold might take a bit of beating if building on his encouraging debut run for David O’Meara as he went close off a higher mark in this race last year, but I’d rather back Kevin Ryan’s MAGICAL SPIRIT at the prices.

He was borderline Listed class at his peak and took advantage of a reduced mark when winning off 94 at Doncaster this spring. He came here for the valuable six-furlong handicap at the Dante meeting the following month and put up a great effort when third to Bielsa.

He’s 4lb better off with runner-up Lethal Levi on these terms having been dropped for a subsequent low-key run at Newcastle which I can excuse (keen early on for some reason) and he should get a fierce pace to chase here.

Published at 1500 BST on 28/07/23

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