Peter Marsh Handicap Chase Betting Tips

Peter Marsh Handicap Chase Betting Tips

Narrowing the field wasn’t actually too difficult this time around. That’s not handicapping arrogance by the way, as there are only six horses declared for the race.

That’s a huge disappointment, though we know some crucial work will have been interrupted up and down the country this week given the ice and frost which has wreaked havoc.

Though a handicap, the Peter Marsh is often very classy. Regular Haydock graded winner Bristol De Mai took this in 2017 and takes part again, while the winner of the last two years Royal Pagaille was thought of as a Gold Cup horse.

The ground is heavy for the 2023 renewal which means, despite many thinking of Haydock as being flat, the 3-mile, 1½-furlong trip will take some getting. Here’s what we made of the candidates: 

Main Contenders


Dan Skelton’s yard has been known of late as the ‘Saturday Skeltons’ given their excellent record of winning big betting races on the key racing day of the week. Given that fact, and Blaklion’s past record around Haydock, this horse will have plenty of supporters no doubt.

At 14 years old even the yard will of course know he’s not at his peak, but the trick for us to gather whether or not we think he is regressing faster than the handicapper is dropping his mark.

If so, which we think is the case, he shouldn’t be troubling the top two or three this time around but he’ll be a fascinating watch.

Bristol De Mai 

Bristol De Mai has two years on Blaklion, but he’s in a very similar category. Seen in the past as a Haydock specialist, he’s won this race and five other grade events at the course.

Once more his team knows full well that he is not the force he once was and he is 5lbs lower in the handicap than when winning the Grand National Trial here last February.

Could he have gone backwards more than 5lbs? Possibly. Is this trip too short now? Maybe. Putting the two together doesn’t equal winner in most people’s books but again, it’ll be great to see him once more.

Cooper’s Cross

In such a small field this horse can be considered very fine value at around 8/1, advertised at the time of writing. Stuart Coltherd’s runner is just eight years old and appears to be improving nicely.

Ground and trip are always the key things to consider. In this case, Cooper’s Cross has taken a small step forward on soft ground at Musselburgh recently but over a shorter trip, while earlier he won easily at Carlisle which is very stiff.

It’s feasible therefore that this will suit him, though there is no definitive evidence of that.

Dr Kananga

A soft ground winner at Sandown last February over three miles, conditions at a glance would appear to be OK for Dr Kananga.

When he ran again last March he did well once more, finishing runner-up at Exeter. That was on heavy ground and though he didn’t go backwards, he didn’t improve either which makes us worry about the conditions he’ll face here.

He wasn’t great on his return to action in the Becher at Aintree so while he’s interesting, he is passed over this time.

Empire Steel

Sandy Thomson brings his nine-year-old Empire Steel down to compete, and compete we definitely expect him to do.

He’s ten runs into his chasing career now, but he still has a lot more to offer. Having had his pipe-opener at Aintree in December at 20/1 he should be fully ready to rock now. Like the favourite then (see below), we go back a year or so to evaluate his best form.

When he was beaten at Kelso off 146 the ground was very much against him. Before that at the same track on heavy ground however he was outstanding, achieving that 146 and looking capable of much more.

He gets in here of 143 and looks very well in to us.

Fontaine Collonges 

Fontaine Collonges is the likely favourite for Venetia Williams who has won this the last twice with Royal Pagaille. Like Empire Steel this horse had strong form on heavy ground a year ago, but hasn’t been quite as good since.

The conditions should bring about improvement and this is a rock-solid contender, but it is not certain that he is quite as well off at the weights as the one we consider to be his main rival.


We landed the odds last week with West Balboa and hope to make it a quick double. Fontaine Collonges is a solid contender, but EMPIRE STEEL’s chance is too good to ignore.

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