Thursday Southwell top racing tip: Ron O good value to challenge odds-on favourite

As horse racing winds down ahead of a three-day Christmas break, Tipstrr's horse racing expert Steve Jones is hoping to sign off with a winner from this evening's all-weather meeting at Southwell.

The odds-on favourite Zealot appears to have benefited from his move to Mick Appleby, whose reputation for improving older horses acquired from other yards is well deserved.

It hasn't taken him long to do just that with Zealot, who finished runner-up over this course and distance on his stable debut last Friday, before promptly going one better at Kempton on Monday.

However, this will be his third run in six days and it is worth noting that all of his best form for his previous yard also came at Kempton.

Moreover, his bare form over this trip last week reveals that he was in much weaker company and he looks significantly shorter odds than he should be, especially as he also has the widest draw of all in stall 12 to overcome.

But for the presence of Zealot, the other big improver in the field, Ron O, would be a far shorter price than he is after enjoying two comfortable wins earlier this month.

19:30 (Southwell) Ron O

The first of them came in a lower-graded one-mile handicap on Newcastle's tapeta track, where he beat 12 rivals by no fewer than four lengths under today's rider, Tom Eaves, who was actually easing him down at the end.

The question as to whether he could repeat the performance at a higher level was quickly answered a week later when he won what was a far stronger handicap over today's trip.

He ran off five pounds higher, again under Eaves, and once again, he was held well off the pace before cruising into contention halfway down the home straight, and while his margin of victory might not have been so large, he was once again clearly superior to his rivals.

Once he hit the front with less than two furlongs to go, he was never in any danger and only had to be ridden out to score more comfortably than his one-length winning margin might suggest.

Only four pounds higher today, Ron O is in the form to complete his hat-trick and his tapeta form is far stronger than anything Zealot has so far achieved on this surface.

When we factor in Ron O's favourable inside draw, then under the circumstances, Ron O looks a good-value bet to beat the seemingly under-priced favourite.

  • Next best: Masqool

Of the others, Masqool is the only other previous course/distance winner in this line-up and he arrives on the back of a very solid fourth place in a higher-graded ten-furlong Class 4 handicap at Lingfield.

Since returning from his last break in August, three wins and three places have boosted his rating from 58 to 72 and his upward curve might not be finished just yet.

A dual course and distance winner, three of his five wins have come over a mile on this surface, and all five of his wins have come under Dougie Costello, who is here for just this one ride.

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