I've managed to bag a detailed analysis of the Peter Marsh Chase today.
I've also got the usual football tips, which you'll find further down the page.
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Peter Marsh Chase – Saturday 18th January, Haydock (3.15 Channel 4)
No great pattern in terms of the winners in the last few years, with weights ranging from 10-3 to 11-10. The McCains have won it twice in the last ten years and this often goes, as you’d expect to a Northern trainer who is adept with handicappers, although both Venetia Williams and David Pipe have gatecrashed the party in the past decade. Don’t be frightened of backing something at a price either – only one favourite has obliged in the last 10 years and there’s been 20-1 and 33-1 winners too. Only the 10 runners for tomorrow’s renewal but the fact it is 5-1 this morning tells you it is wide open.
Vino Griego (G Moore, 11-10, 10-1)
Bounced right back to form with victory over two higher rated rivals in the Future Stars at Sandown but handicapper has taken that at face value when perhaps he shouldn’t have and has given him a kicking to the tune of 8lb for winning it. But Rolling Aces simply didn’t stay after being given too positive a ride and Harry Topper came from a stable that was clearly sick at the time so he’s ended up almost winning by default. Whilst the ground is no issue, these fences might be (often gives one a belt) and off a new high handicap mark against some younger, improving horses, isn’t difficult to give the elbow too.
Katenko (V Williams, 11-8, 5-1)
Still the one horse in the field with pretensions of being more than a handicapper and let’s not forget how he destroyed future Paddy Power winner Johns Spirit about this time last year at Sandown, always in the front line, jumping well and staying on strongly to give him 3lb and a 9l beating. Was still travelling well in this years Hennessey when coming to grief at the 14th, and not difficult to think that the Aintree race simply came too soon for him after that. Been given time to recover since then, and with a staying test in the mud likely to prove up his street, has to go on the shortlist for a trainer that’s won this before.
The Minack (P Nicholls, 11-5, 10-1)
Not seen for two years but has won after a break before (although not this long) and a superb win record of 7-12 (very lightly raced for a 10-y-o). Won the 2011 Badger Ales after 7 months off, gamely holding off Meanus Dandy from the same yard, but his Ascot win afterwards shows you that the handicapper has given him a real chance today if he’s fit enough – he gave Vino Griego 15lb and a beating yet today gets 5lb from him (Reve De Sivola back in third and future National winner Neptune Collonges back in fourth – a solid looking piece of form). Whilst he’s never tackled heavy ground, he has no problem with genuinely soft ground, and with both Sydney Paget and Vintage Star in the field to ensure a good pace, should get the race run to suit. Not discounted by any means.
Chance Du Roy (P Hobbs, 10-10, 10-1)
Not for the first time found Aintree’s fences to his liking when winning the Becher Chase there early December and gets a fairly harsh 8lb for winning a length for that. That still leaves him on a mark he has won off before, but only once has he followed up after a win (back in 2010) and it might just have been that catching him fresh on a course he likes might have been the key. Has won at Haydock too, however, and with trainer in superb form isn’t totally dismissed, but he doesn’t make my shortlist.
Sydney Paget (D McCain, 10-9, 7-1)
Threw a stinker in at Wetherby last time (gave up pretty quickly when headed) but previous win here over C & D looks pretty decent at face value. However, dig a little deeper and not difficult to shoot a through holes through that form (it’s not really working out that well, was getting weight too) and even after a 3lb drop for the Wetherby effort he’s still 10lb higher than that win. Ground no problem but not difficult to see Vintage Star and Night Alliance giving him hassle mid-race, and could easily find things happening around him that aren’t to his liking again. Happy to swerve him at the price.
Vintage Star (S Smith, 10-8, 7-1)
Stable in good nick this week and not difficult to see this one running a good race either, being just 4lb higher than two good efforts in November, firstly beating Buddy Bolero at Carlisle (only fair form) but bettered that in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle, narrowly going down to an on-song Hey Big Spender. Difficult to crab his effort in the Welsh National either, where he travelled well into the race but seemed to find the extended trip against him. No problem with this ground and still looks on a mark he can do some damage off. Could find himself some space behind the leader to do his own thing, and is shortlisted.
Merry King (J J O’Neill, 10-4, 5-1)
Not difficult to see why he’s near the front of the market as one that’s been running well in top class staying handicaps without getting near the front, and is probably still a few pounds in front of the handicapper. Visor goes on for the first time, but for me he’s not screamed out that he needs one, I don’t see him as lazy, so it will be interesting to see how he goes in it. Finished just in front of Vintage Star in the Welsh National but Vintage Star was put into the race much earlier and even on slightly worse terms I could see the form being reversed over the shorter trip. Trainer in very patchy form as well and looks underpriced to me. Races from 1lb out of the handicap.
Night Alliance (Dr R Newland, 10-4, 8-1)
Another trainer in superb form but handicapper has reacted very badly to his win here in the Tommy Whittle, raising him 13lb for it (effectively 16lb as he’s 3lb out of the handicap here.) The form of that looks okay, however, with second Loch Ba putting up a decent effort in the Betfred Classic last weekend and fourth Samstown narrowly defeated (albeit in lesser company) next time out. He is a pretty straightforward ride though, usually happy to sit midfield before making a mid-race move, and that’s a worry for me with Tom Scudamore on board. Not difficult to see a scenario where he gets involved in a duel with Sydney Paget for a while and expends too much energy, leaving little for the finish. That, plus the new mark, is enough to put me off him, just.
Wychwoods Brook (E Williams, 10-4, 16-1)
Racing from 7lb out of the handicap here, making an already difficult looking task even more so. Picked up long time leader Henry King with the minimum of fuss at Lingfield but that was a 0-120 over half a mile shorter so big questions to answer here off an 11lb higher mark. On the plus side is unexposed and breeding gives hope that he will stay, and seems a bit of a natural over the bigger obstacles but it’s surely asking too much at this stage of his career to take a competitive race such as this.
Valoroso (R Woollacott, 10-4, 16-1)
Another racing from well out of the handicap, being 8lb wrong here. Had the 6 jumps starts and fencing is far from perfect yet (a fall and a UR already on the card, and mistakes again last time) but will at least appreciate the likely good pace (can take a hold). Travelled well again at Kempton last time, not for the first time, but got worried out of it close home by the useful Ma Filleule. Looks all about staying and whilst it’s difficult to see him winning, he could represent some value on the exchanges as a back-to-lay option in running.
The shortlist of three is Vintage Star, Katenko and The Minack, and choosing between the three isn’t easy. The long lay off of The Minack is just, only just, enough to put me off so I’m having two win bets on KATENKO at 5-1, who could yet prove a cut above these, and a small saver on VINTAGE STAR, who is keeping his form well and with the stable in form, I can see him reversing form with Merry King over this trip.
We had another winning week with these football selections last week.
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