Good morning all,
A second successive winning nap with Rock Eagle at Kempton yesterday evening. Well backed during the day, Rock Eagle wore down long-time leader Soghan inside the final 50 yards. A well-deserved success for the lightly raced 5-year-old proved himself a high-class staying handicapper at around 2m.
It was a wonderful night for the inform Ralph Beckett yard with Rock Eagle the third leg of the stable treble. It was also good day on the tipping front as Victor Value subscribers were on Potters Legend at 8/1 in the Veterans' Chase at Warwick.
Inside today’s main piece I’m focusing on Saturday’s Betfair Stayers Handicap Hurdle at Haydock. Plus, I have a couple of fancies on the all-weather at Newcastle & Chelmsford.
More weekend thoughts
2:25 – Betfair Exchange Stayers' Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) – 3m ½ f
With 24 being declared at the five-day stage there’s a good chance we will get 16 runners, for what is normally a competitive handicap hurdle. Last year’s renewal was won by Stoney Mountain (16/1) who came with a strong late run after the last hurdle.
Looking at the trends. Yes, I know there not everyone’s cup of tea but some races have strong profitable trends and this is one of them.
Nine of the last ten winners of the race fulfilled the following criteria:
Age: 5yo & 6yo;
Odds SP: 16/1 & under;
Best in Three Runs: 1st.
9 winners from 45 bets 20% +35.5 22 placed 49% (+60 each way).
That’s a healthy 90% of the winners from just 29% of the total runners.
There is just one five-year-old entered Cill Anna, trained by Paul Nicholls. The mare was well placed to win her last three starts in novice company. Raced like the run was needed at Wincanton 14-days ago and probably found the ground plenty quick enough as she’s 3-3 over hurdles on soft/heavy ground.
There are six 6-year-olds declared at the five-day stage. Recent Fontwell, soft ground winner Collooney (10/1) is up 5lb for that success but has the scope to improve for the step up to 3m.
Imperial Alcazar (5/1) has been backed into favouritism this week. The 6-year-old looked a useful prospect when beating three rivals at Leicester 297-days ago. Both his career wins have come on soft and heavy. Unexposed and could be on a good mark for his handicap debut.
Dolphin Square (20/1) & Third Wind 10/1) were second and fifth respectively in a Pertemps Series Qualifier at Newbury 16-days ago. The latter has three lengths to find on that running but is 2lb better off. An excellent 4th of 24 in last season’s Pertemps Final. I fancy that Third Wind can finish in front this time, especially as his form figures on soft/heavy are 11114.
Don’t rule out older horses
Seven-year-olds are 0-35, 5 placed in the past ten years. However, there are couple of lively contenders from that age group in Main Fact and The Jam Man.
The Jam Man (10/1) showed he was a well handicapped horse over the larger obstacles when easily winning the valuable Troytown Handicap Chase 13-days ago. Another big run can’t be ruled out back over hurdles should shrewd trainer Ronan McNally decide to bring him over for the race.
Main Fact (7/1) has been well placed to take advantage of a low handicap mark to win three times on the flat this autumn. He ended last season very much on the upgrade over hurdles winning his last five starts, including a 2m 4f Class 2 handicap at Uttoxeter in March. Up 15lb for that win but may not have reached his class ceiling just yet. First start beyond 2m 4f and although he’s not certain stayer on pedigree he shapes like he will. Trainer David Pipe knows what’s required to win the race as he's 3-12 +5.5 in the past ten years.
If the Warren Greatrex yard was in better form, I would be interested in the claims of Portrush Ted (16/1). The 8-year-old clearly has been the easiest to keep sound, as he’s just had three starts over hurdles. Returned from a mammoth 519-day absence to win at Ayr in January and fell at the last when still in contention over C&D a month later. Goes well fresh with form figures 121, returning from a 121+day layoff and goes well in the mud.
Looking at the future form. Four of the last 12 winners of the race went on to win their next start and if you had backed them all you would have made a £6.95 level stake profit to a £1 stake. That record improves to £9.50 if you backed only those racing in Grade 1 or Grade 2 company on their next run.
It will probably be worth noting the first three home on their next start – 11 winners from 38 bets +2.86. The most profitable angle is following those qualifiers with a different jockey on their next start, as these produced 8 winners from 23 bets +10.99 12 placed.
Well I hope you enjoyed this rather long race preview of Haydock’s stayers’ handicap hurdle. I will probably do a few more over the winter months.
As ever, if you want my Haydock and Ascot selections you can get them here.
The most valuable race of the day is the 2m 6f Listed Chase (1:20) at Thurles. It features the like of Monalee, Kemboy, Presenting Percy and the unexposed over fences Darasso. The first two named are making their seasonal reappearance. Whilst Presenting Percy has the benefit of a recent run but needs to jump better than he did at Down Royal. Darasso steps up to 2m 6f but he can’t be totally dismissed especially if the going changes to heavy.
It might be a Listed race but, it’s really Grade 2 quality. Monalee looks the most likely winner given he goes well fresh and is effective on soft ground but I will be watching Darasso with interest.
There are also two class 2 handicaps at Newcastle and Chelmsford today and I have fancies at both meetings.
2:20 – The Trader is having his first start on the tapeta but is the odds-on favourite for this 1m 4f contest. You can see why though as he’s the only guaranteed front runner in the field.
Stargazer showed he was still capable of winning at this level when beating subsequent November Handicap winner On To Victory at Haydock over 1m 6f in September. His form figures around here are an eyecatching 222121 and he can race off his last all-weather winning mark. Granted 1m 4f is probably short of his best and as a hold up horse he would be vulnerable in a tactically run race but he’s capable of taking advantage should the favourite underperform. Mind you I was hoping for a bit better than 11/4.
5:30 – Race favourite Aberama Gold could be a well handicapped horse on just his second start on the all-weather. A winner of Class 2 handicap at Doncaster two starts back. He made Dakota Gold pull out all the stops when 2nd of 15 in a Listed race back at the same venue 12-days ago. Will be tough to beat if reproducing that run here.
Rathbone is 0-4, but has placed three times on the synthetics and two of his best three RPR’s have come at Newcastle. He was well behind Aberama Gold at Doncaster last time but that was on soft ground which doesn’t suit. He’s better judged on his 2nd of 11, beaten a head off today’s mark at Ascot in September. And when running recent Group 1 winner Glen Shiel to 2 ½ lengths at Newcastle in June. Drawn out wide in 10 but he's got each way claims.
5:30 – Rathbone – 7/1 @ Coral & Ladbrokes.
Good luck with your Thursday bets.