Just as it should be, this year’s renewal has a majority of its runners very close together when handicapped with conditions in mind, several of them within 2lbs of each other by our reckoning.
With former favourite Valtor a late defector the price on our selection has contracted, but nonetheless we should still be able to grab some decent value in what is a competitive heat.
It’ll be interesting to see former Grand National champ One For Arthur return to the track and he’s not out of this by any means, though in such a tight race we can afford to take no prisoners and so these five runners have slightly better credentials on all known evidence:
There’s a general consensus that Nigel Twiston-Davies’ 9yo was outstayed at this track last time out by today’s rival Daklondike and if that’s true, this extra couple of furlongs would definitely not be up his alley.
It was extremely heavy ground on that occasion however and his form overall is showing improvement for time and racing, though even with slightly better ground underfoot there are indeed no guarantees that he really wants this stamina test.
If conditions aren’t something we can pin down as a major positive or negative, then we have to simply see him as a chaser who’s only had ten goes over the larger obstacles and who may yet get better.
For whatever reason Haydock Park seems to particularly suit certain horses, just look at Bristol De Mai for example. In the case of Stuart Coltherd’s runner he really does excel here with 2 wins, 2 seconds and 2 thirds in six trips to the track.
Despite a liking for good-to-soft down to heavy ground, his best effort thus far came when running third in a valuable handicap here in November on good going so on the basis that he wouldn’t have shown his best running on that surface and the race was a six-runner affair, we can expect even better now.
With that in mind, plus the potential for further natural improvement over fences still, this horse could be half a stone ahead of the handicapper if all goes well and as such he looks great value to see this lot off under Sam Coltherd, son of the trainer.
As a young chaser with low mileage David Pipe’s gelding definitely fits into the category of “may improve’. Certainly he has already shown a liking for this track having scored here on heavy going over 2m7f, beating Ballyarthur that day, though that one has just as much chance of moving forward from there as Daklondike does.
One thing’s for certain; he has definitely shown better form the softer the ground gets and it would have to be in the back of your mind that it could be a little too quick for him this time, though more rain on Friday is a possibility in the run-up to this race and that’ll do his chances no harm at all. Tom Scudamore rides.
This is his first run since December 2017 but he has always managed absences well in the past and training techniques being what they are now, there is no reason to think he won’t be at his best once again.
That best alone might not be good enough, but there is even the possibility of some improvement given that he’s only had six chase starts though his age negates that to some degree as does the level of opposition here who could have him off his feet if he is not perfect right from the off. The assistance from the saddle of Richard Johnson certainly helps.
Probably the least fancied of our top five, but at least he’s in it so don’t let that alone put you off. Wakanda’s best form has come over distances and ground conditions similar to this so we at least have the possibility of him running right up to near his best, though most of his better runs have come some time ago which is a concern.
If all the main contenders run as expected, which rarely happens to be fair, this could be a very close race between a number of them including Robinsfirth and Ballyarthur but if the track here at Haydock can work its magic once again, one horse could have a few pounds in hand on them and that is CAPTAIN REDBEARD.