Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Swinton Hurdle) 1m 7 1/2f Haydock Saturday
Last week’s selection in the 1000gns, Lumiere, ran no sort of race, and looked as if she didn’t stay, but fortunately, our E.W. selection, Alice Springs ran a super race to finish 3rd at odds of 16/1. She has grown into a big impressive looking filly and with her pedigree is certainly one to keep in mind when tackling further. (The Irish Oaks?)
We are back over the sticks this week with a look at the Swinton Hurdle and it looks a wide open contest.
Philip Hobbs, who has won the race twice before, (including last year) has three entries and at the time of writing the two to concentrate on are last year’s hero, War Sound, and Wait For Me. The former took last year’s renewal off a mark of 140 when a well supported 6/1 chance but is now 8lbs higher, and hasn’t run since finishing down the field at Newbury on heavy ground in mid February. Saturday’s ground should be much more suitable, and it is a race where previous winners have performed well on their return, so his chance is respected.
Wait For Me ran a fine race in The County Hurdle at the Festival for a novice, having only his fourth run over the smaller obstacles. Backed in to 7/1 joint favourite from 11/1 on the day, he was held up towards the rear, crept into the contest, and stayed on to finish 4th. The hurly burly of Saturday’s contest should hold no fears for him, and off the same mark as Cheltenham, has a lot to recommend him.
Welsh maestro, Evan Williams has also trained the winner twice, in 2014 and 2013, and indeed his 2013 winner Barizan was placed 2nd last year. It would seem that Williams targets the race so his contender John Constable is of special interest. This decent flat racer, (rated92) put up an eye catching performance on only his third run over hurdles at Newbury last November. In a Class1 handicap he finished 2nd to Sternrubin and had Saturday’s opponent, and likely favourite Ch’tibello five lengths back in third. John Constable has disappointed in his two subsequent races but the yard has been badly out of form. He now meets Ch’tibello on 3lbs better terms than Newbury, and as the stable has had a winner this Tuesday he’s one to keep on the right side of.
The Paul Webber trained 5yo novice Gwafa was taking a huge step up in class when contesting the Grade1 novice hurdle at Aintree but was badly hampered at the 4th and unseated his rider. He had won his two previous races very easily at Fakenham and Huntingdon,so this 92 rated flat racer may have got in lightly off a mark of 137 and is worth a second look.
Paul Nicholls has never won the race but seems to be making a serious attempt with three runners this year. His 5yo, All Yours, probably represents his best chance of correcting this particular blot on the Nicholls C.V. The winner of the Grade1 novices event at last years Aintree festival, (April 2015) he has had a very easy time of it since, running only twice. He was a well beaten 5th behind stablemate Irving at Wincanton in November, and wasn’t seen again until running in the County Hurdle in March where he ran better than his finishing place of 12th would indicate. Well suited by a flat track and reasonably treated off a mark of 145 it will come as no surprise to see him involved at the business end.
Robert Stephen’s 5yo Beltor has attracted some interest in the market and actually beat All Yours easily on only his second race over hurdles, at Kempton 14 months ago. His two subsequent efforts, in the 2015 Triumph Hurdle, and the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle last November, have been disappointing and I just wonder does he need to go right handed.
The other trainer who can boast two previous wins is Nicky Henderson and his 7yo Cardinal Walter, despite failing to hit the back of the net for 14 months is interesting. His win in a novice hurdle at Doncaster in Febuary 2015 was achieved with consummate ease and his 3rd to Saturday’s opponent Shrewd at Musselburgh this Febuary was a pretty decent effort. He meets the winner on 14lbs (excluding Shane Shortalls 5lbs claim on the winner) for the 2 3/4L beating and as his jumping wasn’t the most fluent things could be a lot closer between them on Saturday.
Dan Skelton runs his Scottish Champion Hurdle winner, Ch’tibello and he must have a serious chance off just a 6lbs higher mark. At Ayr he showed a great change of gears between the bypassed third, and second last flights, and despite a mistake at the last the result was never in doubt. This was his first run for five months so further improvement can be expected, and with Saturday’s ground likely to be even more suitable he has an awful lot going for him.
Selection : Ch’tibello
E.W. : All Yours