Home » Best value bets for Saturday February 3

Best value bets for Saturday February 3

It’s a big Saturday with quality racing on both sides of the Irish Sea – check out Matt Brocklebank’s big-priced selections.

  • 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.
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  • Following all Matt’s selections to recommended odds/stakes since taking over the column in June 2020 would have produced over 140pts in profit.

Value Bet tips: Saturday, February 3

1pt win Zanndabad in 2.50 Musselburgh at 10/1 (General)

1pt win Maxxum in 3.00 Leopardstown at 28/1 (General)

1pt win Sequestered in 3.00 Leopardstown at 50/1 (General)

1pt win Gustavian in 3.10 Sandown at 25/1 (General)

1pt win Java Point in 3.45 Sandown at 12/1 (General)

Sky Bet odds | Paddy Power | Betfair Sportsbook

Gust to blow hot back over hurdles

Good to soft ground on Sandown’s hurdles track at this time of year is something of a rarity but it’s still likely to be riding on the ‘dead’ side according to course officials and a proper test at the trip should suit GUSTAVIAN in the Virgin Bet Heroes Handicap Hurdle – one of the most competitive contests in Britain this weekend.

His trainer Anthony Honeyball has been ticking over very nicely all season and I like the switch back to timber for this horse as he’s looked to have lost all confidence in the fencing department since a crunching fall two-out when still holding every chance in a quality novices’ handicap chase at Uttoxeter last March.

They tried a change in tactics at Kempton last time but that didn’t pan out and he’s surely going to be ridden more positively again around here which is often the place to be at Sandown.

Granted, it’s a long time since we saw Gustavian in this sphere but he’s only run seven times over hurdles in his life, winning three and hitting the frame in the other four so he’s got to be of interest having slid to the same mark as his last win over fences, a 29-length victory over three miles at Exeter in February 2023.

Strong chance Java can bounce back

Honeyball has a slightly more obvious one in Blackjack Magic in the Virgin Bet Masters Handicap Chase but he’s gone up another pound for his Ascot fourth last time out and would ideally want some rain which doesn’t look like materialising (chase course is typically a good bit drier).

Certainly Red is back on his last winning mark and knows what’s required around Sandown but at current odds I’d rather side with JAVA POINT, who might just have a bit more pace than most of this lot.

His new trainer Henry Oliver has had just one winner since August which is obviously a glaring negative but it looks well factored into his price as he’s very well treated on the pick of his efforts for Tom George, being 4lb below his last winning mark.

That victory came in April 2022 but he ran some creditable races in good company last season and shaped reasonably well on stable debut at Newbury last month too, ending up fourth behind Inch House, who has since finished second off 7lb higher at Cheltenham. The fifth home, Jay Jay Reilly, has done his bit for the form as well by winning the Lanzarote and I reckon Java Point will enjoy the conditions this weekend.

Take note when Martin’s in town

The market for Musselburgh’s bet365 Edinburgh National Handicap Chase was looking a bit foggy at the time of writing, with Irish raiders Peaches And Cream and Temptationinmilan both looking plenty tight enough based on what they were showing on the track before the turn of the year.

Magna Sam is the one who has been staring me in the face all week given he’s just 4lb higher than when winning this race last year but it’s hard to argue he offers much in the way of value either.

I’ll swerve the race entirely and focus on the bet365 Scottish County Handicap Hurdle, in which Sextant is a very interesting runner back from a mammoth layoff on first start for Lucinda Russell. Russell isn’t really firing on all cylinders at the moment, though, so he’s probably one to watch for now.

It’s a wide-open race, clearly, but I’m still convinced there’s more to come from ZANNDABAD at some point and his trainer Tony Martin has a 30% strike-rate with hurdlers at Musselburgh over the years so now might be the time to have him on side.

This horse has yet to really deliver since switching from the French flat scene for 240,000 euros but he showed promising signs in his first three starts over hurdles as a juvenile last term, before presumably picking up an issue as he skipped all the big spring meetings before turning up back on the level at the Curragh in May.

He’s rated in the 90s in that sphere and didn’t disgrace himself in a valuable staying prize at York’s Ebor meeting in August, since when he’s had just the one start back over obstacles when down the field on soft ground at Fairyhouse (2m4f) in early-December.

Freshened up after another break and dropping back to two miles on a speed-favouring track, I’ll take a chance on Zanndabad at what looks a very fair price.

Go double-handed in Leopardstown handicap

The overall quality is through the roof at Leopardstown and while there aren’t lots of brilliant punting races on the Saturday card, the Race And Stay At Leopardstown Handicap Hurdle does stand out in that regard.

You can make some sort of case for about a dozen of the 24 declared runners and that includes top weight MAXXUM, who (remarkably) went off the 7/4 favourite for this race 12 months ago and only beat five home under Cian Quirke claiming 7lb.

Maxxum now has another apprentice for company in Carl Millar (also takes off 7lb) but he’s running off a 1lb lower mark so the obvious conclusion is that he’s probably on the downgrade as he’s on offer around the 20/1 mark this time around.

However, this is a Gordon Elliott-trained handicapper we’re talking about, he’s still only seven and I don’t believe for a minute that he’s over the hill and no longer capable of showing his true colours.

Granted, it wasn’t a going day for him on the heavy ground here over Christmas, but he’d shaped well enough when fifth at Navan earlier in December, following a moderate reappearance run in a Grade 2 novice chase at Punchestown the previous month.

He was flying up the ranks this time last year – hence the skinny price – but he got a very rough trip on the day and then shaped a lot better than the bare result in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham, travelling sweetly and looking a threat before becoming short of racing room on the run to the final flight, which he blundered.

Maxxum isn’t yet qualified for that Festival race so this may well be the principal target which makes sense as he bolted up by 16 lengths in the December qualifier over course and distance earlier last season.

He obviously likes the place and if you look past the most recent effort he’d have a major chance of playing a hand which isn’t being reflected in the market.

The other one in the same race I can’t resist backing despite a low-key run last time out is Paul Gilligan’s novice SEQUESTERED.

He was last of four behind Albert Bartlett fancy High Class Hero at Thurles a fortnight ago but he didn’t look in love with the terrible ground there and we know he’s a lot better than that form anyway as he was second to the same Mullins-trained horse at Listowel in September.

That solid effort in defeat sandwiched victories in a maiden hurdle at Sligo and a novice at Galway where he beat Stuzzikini, who won by 31 lengths in a Clonmel handicap off a mark of 126 just a week or so later.

The subsequent trip to Cheltenham’s November meeting didn’t pan out too well for Sequestered and he was too keen for his own good, ultimately being brought home in his own time a long way adrift of Minella Missile and Captain Teague, the Grade 1 Challow winner.

Sequestered now goes handicapping for the first time from a perfectly workable mark of 129 and he wouldn’t be the first from the yard to spark into life in handicaps, but the main potential source of improvement is the first shot at three miles.

A son of Malinas (sire of many stout stayers including Back On The Lash, Black Thunder, Mighty Thunder and Malina Girl), his dam is a half-sister to Outlaw Pete who won over three miles as a chaser so he could find another level completely now faced with a proper test of stamina.

The big-field, strong-gallop scenario should certainly help him settle into his race a lot better than some of the small-field novice events he’s been contesting and I reckon he’s worth a dart at a huge price.

Published at 1600 GMT on 02/02/24

Click here for full Value Bet record from the column’s inception

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