Our top six for a fascinating renewal of the Peter Marsh:
Anthony Honeyball’s seven-year-old is a hard one to judge. We can take some positives as regards the trip and ground he’ll cover this weekend from his hurdling career, but as a three-race chasing novice things become more difficult to figure out over fences.
His best piece of form is his chase debut, and it must be remembered that his easy win back then at Aintree was achieved over three miles plus and on soft ground. He was easily beaten in a two-runner event at Plumpton last time, and he makes this list based on potential improvement over the trip.
Nico de Boinville takes the ride on Colin Tizzard’s runner and he’s not without a chance. He’s be a touch inconsistent in his five-race chasing career so far, but on his best form over this sort of distance and on softer ground he would appear to be in the front rank.
That said, when he was raised from 120 to 132 after an easy win last season he began to struggle, so his still being rated 135 despite a woeful run when favourite for the Welsh National Trial last time adds more doubt to the mix.
Lucy Wadham’s gelding is not getting any younger, and he hasn’t been judged by us on his very best career form that’s for sure.
On merit he still makes this list though, his win at Warwick in a veteran’s race and his good second in Grade 3 handicap company at Cheltenham this season reading well. He’s also a pound lower in the handicap than when running at HQ.
He was a wee bit off his game last time out at Sandown however and the miles are catching up with him, so while he has a chance of yet more prize money he is passed over for the win.
It’s easy to see why Venetia Williams’ representative is favourite for this event. A 10-race chaser who has enough experience to be comfortable in these conditions, he is also only seven and has plenty of improvement left in him.
That’s a great combo and indeed his obvious career best was his last run, a three-mile soft ground handicap win at Kempton Park.
He has been racing in lesser company in his four races since he moved to Britain from France however, while regular rider Charlie Deutsch is on assignment at Ascot to ride in the Clarence House Chase and so has been replaced by Tom Scudamore.
An interesting runner and another for Anthony Honeyball. He pulled-up over three miles at Ascot last year and ran out of steam on his seasonal chasing bow at Carlisle, so there a couple of concerns there.
However, he was mightily impressive last season on his chase debut at Lingfield and that was over three miles on heavy going which is important here, while having led at Carlisle at a quicker pace (2½ miles) it was understandable that his run petered out.
Between all of this was another hugely impressive win in Grade 2 novice company around this track last season, again on soft ground, so there is enough evidence to suggest that these conditions will be ideal for him now.
With natural progression taken into account, he should be able to reach a level some way above the 152 he’s rated currently and that puts him bang in the frame.
Brian Ellison has no worries about backing one of his when it’s felt the horse is in good shape, so take note of any significant money on Saturday morning.
Even on paper though, Sam’s Adventure gets a very big shout. Reaching a career peak now, he’s pretty consistent and won over this very course and distance last time out under Brian Hughes (Ryan Mania this time) on heavy ground.
He’s gone up 6lbs for that Tommy Whittle Chase win and he’s up in grade, but there is certainly nothing not to like about his profile.
There are a number of contenders but Haydock, despite being flat, is well known as being a very hard track to get when the going gets like this.
Despite the difficult conditions he’ll face and his relative lack of experience, SAM BROWN is the one who looks both classy and potentially well-handicapped enough to do some damage and so it could be a big day for jockey Ben Godfrey.
Sam’s Adventure is next best, while Royale Pagaille also looks capable of a place.