32Red Sprint Cup Betting Tips

 

32Red Sprint Cup Betting Tips

The Charlie Hills trained 4yo gelding, Magical Memory is the Oddsguru’s selection for Saturday.

32Red Sprint Cup Stakes Group1 6f Haydock Saturday – First run in 1966, it was promoted to Group 1 status in 1988, and having bagged nine of the intervening twenty seven renewals, the classic generation have certainly had their fair share of the spoils. They are strongly represented again this year by the three fillies, Dancing Star, Only Mine, and Quiet Reflection. Henry Candy has been the most successful handler with two winners, the 7yo Markab in 2010, and last year with the 3yo, Twilight Son. It hasn’t been a great contest for the Irish with Tom Hogan’s, Gordon Lord Byron in 2013, being their sole winner since Vincent O’Brien collected with Abergwaun in 1972.

The Candy yard runs two with leading chances, last year’s victor, Twilight Son, and the hugely impressive winner of the Group1 6f July Stakes, Limato. This 4yo gelding cruised home over Newmarket’s 6f but couldn’t cope with the speedy Mecca’s Angel when dropped back to 5f in York’s Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes last time. However there was no disgrace in coming second and if he gets his “must have” fast conditions at the weekend will be hard to beat. If the ground softens Twilight Son will be the preferred candidate, and this 4yo colt has strong credentials. Having won this last year by a Shd from Strath Burn, he went on to further Group1 glory when taking the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at the Royal Meeting in a Blanket finish, with Saturday’s opponent Magical Memory less than 1/2L further back in 4th. Back on fast ground in the July Cup he finished a disappointing 14th behind stable companion Limato, but given his preferred easy surface at the weekend he could quite possibly add another Group1 to his already burgeoning C.V. enhancing further, his already attractiveness, as a future stallion.

The Charlie Hills trained 4yo gelding, Magical Memory finished third, less than a length behind Twilight Son in this last year, and made a great start to this season, winning the Group 3 Abernant Stakes, and the Group2 Duke of York Stakes in his first two races. He looked a tad unlucky when finishing a close 4th in the Diamond Jubilee, and again didn’t get the best of runs when finishing 7th in the July Cup. A slight setback has given him an enforced eight week holiday, a break from which his trainer thinks he has definitely benefited, and if this impressive winner of last years Stewards Cup turns up with his A game he is going to trouble them all.

This year’s winner of the Goodwood cavalry charge, the3yo filly Dancing Star, also came home in great style and looked a group class filly in the making. However she did have the best of the draw in the Stewards Cup and it remains to be seen how she will cope in this her first run at the top level.

The other 3yo filly Quiet Reflection has already run in two Group 1s, winning the first of them, the Commonwealth Cup at the Royal Meeting, and finishing 3rd last time, in the July Cup. This was a particularly meritorious effort as the suspicion lingers that she wasn’t well suited by that her first run on fast ground so if the rain arrives she will make them all go.

The 4yo gelding Strath Burn nearly caused an upset in this last year when going down by a Shd at odds of 33/1. Having disappointed in his next three runs he moved from Charlie Hills to sprint maestro Robert Cowell. His first run for his new yard was disappointing but he showed rather more last time, when a running on 3rd behind veteran, Kingsgate Native over an inadequate 5f. Substantial further progress is required but Cowell may be the man to find it and that blinding performance in last year’s renewal on his only course appearance makes him one to consider.

Four of the last 12 winners of this came from the Group1 Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deuville and this year’s race saw the Richard Fahey trained Donjuan Triumphant finish 2nd with David O’Meara’s 5yo gelding Suedois a couple of necks further back in 4th. The O’Meara horse had previously run a great race to finish second in The July Cup And meets Donjuan Triumphant on 4lbs better terms. Close up behind Twilight Son in the Diamond Jubilee and only 1/2L behind Magical Memory in the Duke of York he doesn’t have a lot to find and it wouldn’t be a great surprise if his talented trainer found it.

Selection: Magical Memory

E.W.  :  Suedois

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Betfred Rose of Lancaster Stakes Odds Tips

Betfred Rose of Lancaster Stakes Odds Tips

Sir Michael Stoute’s Arab Spring is fancied to go  close this weekend in Haydock’s showpiece race.


Betfred Rose of Lancaster Stakes Group3 10 1/2f Haydock Saturday
– First run in 1986, Saturday will see the 28th renewal (no race 2002) and the classic generation, with sixteen victories, including last year, when Roger Varian’s Intilaaq won at the prohibitive odds of 1/3, have had much the best of the argument. Sir Michael Stoute, who is enjoying something of a renaissance after a number of poor seasons, has been the most successful handler with three wins, interestingly, all with older animals. Both Mark Johnston and Saeed bin Suroor have both hit the back of the net twice.

The sole Stoute representative this time is the 6yo entire, Arab Spring, and it is intriguing that the yard is persevering with this clearly fragile horse. He has had only the eight runs in his entire career, the most recent 436 days ago when he finished a neck behind Western Hymn in a Sandown Group3. He is an animal that clearly goes well fresh, and a repeat of last terms first time out performance when he won convincingly from that good yardstick Pether’s Moon, in a Newbury Group3, would see him go close.

Last year the Oddsguru went for Roger Varian’s Intilaaq.

The Mark Johnston trained 5yo Fire Fighting ran a brave race last week at Goodwood holding on by a neck in a Cl2 handicap off a mark of 102. Fire Fighting, like the men who do, is a tough and brave individual, and is clearly in good heart, but he is fully exposed, and it is hard to see where the further 12lbs improvement necessary to win this is to come from.

The Godolphin operation has won this twice before, with the 4yo’s Hunters Light, (2012) and Tamayaz, (1996). They have two entered this time, Basem and Scottish, and their best chance would seem to lie with the latter, a 4yo gelding by Teofilo who looks very progressive. He was having only his ninth outing when comfortably taking a 10f listed race at Newbury on Gd/Fm three weeks ago, where he looked well up to Group3 level. He had finished 3rd on his reappearance seven weeks earlier, when beaten a neck and 4 1/2L by Time Test and Western Hymn, which does give him plenty to find with Arab Spring, but judging by the Newbury run, plenty of progress has been made in the meantime, and he is short listed.

John Gosden’s 3yo gelding Foundation was sold as a yearling for the considerable sum of €190,000, and it looked money well spent when he won his first three races as a 2yo, including at Group2 level. He was slightly disappointing when only managing second on Gd /Sft on his reappearance over a mile, but, stepped up to 10 1/2f in the Dante at York on faster ground, he did well to finish a neck and 1 1/2L behind the top class pair Wings of Desire and Deauville. Sent off the 4/1 fav on soft ground for the French Derby he trailed in last of the sixteen runners so does seem to need decent ground. Given good or faster ground at the weekend this two times course winner would be dangerous to ignore, particularly as he avoids any penalties for his 2yo success at group 2 level.

Roger Charlton runs the highly consistent 4yo colt by Galileo, Decorated Knight. He has never been out of the first four in all ten racecourse appearances, winning four of them. He was particularly impressive last time in a Leopardstown Group3 (1m1f Gd/Fm) 23 days ago when firmly putting Royal Hunt Cup winner Portage in his place. He does have to carry a 4lbs penalty for the Leopardstown win, but looks a highly progressive type and it will come as no surprise to see him competing at a higher level in the future.

Richard Fahey’s 7yo veteran Gabrial has been plying his trade at Group1 and 2 level over a mile, and considering the standard of the opposition has not disgraced himself. He finished 5th, in the Group1 Sussex Stakes last week just 3 1/2L behind the best miler around, The Gurkha, and in his previous run, a Group2 at Ascot, he was only 2 3/4L and a short head behind Mutakayyef and last week’s impressive winner of the Group2 Qatar Lennox Stakes, Dutch Connection. He has been campaigned over further in the past without success but perhaps now a step up in trip might just suit this enigmatic type.

David Lanigan steps his 3yo handicapper Gershwin up to Group class for the first time and he does have a progressive profile. He won off a mark of 83 in May and was probably a tad unlucky to be caught in the last stride off 93 six weeks later. Considerably more is required at the weekend but this very well bred Colt might just be up to it. By prolific winning sire Shamardal, his listed winning dam is a half sister to the Group1 and 2 winning Giofa, and to the listed winner Gomati, so it would be no great surprise to see Lanigan’s Colt make significant progress.

 Selection: Decorated Knight. (if abs. Scottish)

E.W.   : Arab Spring.

The Oddsguru fancies Andrew Balding's 4yo Duretto to run a bold race on Saturday.

Old Newton Cup Handicap Racing Tips

bet365 Old Newton Cup Handicap 1m4f Haydock Saturday – the Old Newton Handicap is well into its second century at the East Lancashire venue, and is one of the most competitive middle distance handicaps in the calendar. It invariably produces an exciting climax, not least last year, when the two Mark Johnston trained animals, Notarised and Watersmeet, fought out a thrilling finish. Having made most of the running on the good/soft surface the former prevailed by 1/2L. Both are entered again and as Maestro Johnston also trained the 2013 winner, Star Lahib, must be of serious interest.

The 5yo Notarised has had a busy time of it since his victory, running eleven times, but only getting his head in front on the one occasion, over two miles on the all weather. However he did put up a decent effort off a mark of 101 at Goodwood in May over 1m6f on his reappearance, when, racing from his preferred position at the head of the field, he only gave best in the last 100yds to the useful Kinema and Monotype, both of whom franked the form next time out. He has disappointed in his next two runs but excuses can be made. He missed the break and had no chance of getting to the front at Royal Ascot, and last week didn’t get home over the 16 1/2f of the “Pitmen’s Derby”. He is only 4lbs higher than last year and back to 12f, if able to assume his leading role, this tough customer will be hard to pass.

Last year the Oddsguru tipped Pressure Point to win the Old Newton Cup.

Stable mate Watersmeet is 6lbs better off for that 1/2L beating in last year’s renewal, and ran really well last time, finishing second off a mark of 98 in a Newmarket handicap seven weeks ago. Only 1lb higher on Saturday he looks quite well treated but with all this rain about may not be best suited by conditions.

One who won’t be inconvenienced by soft ground is (pictured) Andrew Balding’s 4yo Duretto. He ran a sound race on his reappearance at Ascot in May (12f Gd/fm) where he failed by 1 1/4L to give Saturday’s favourite, King Bolete 2lbs. He was sent off favourite next time for an Epsom handicap off a mark of 94, but losing a shoe could only finish fifth. A winner on soft ground over Ascot’s stiff 12f last July, conditions should hold no fears, so, meeting King Bolete on 6lbs better for that 1 1/4L, with conditions to suit and with a nice racing weight of 8st 11lbs on his back must have a great chance.

King Bolete himself looks a pretty progressive animal, winning tidily over course and distance last time off a mark of 94, 14lbs higher than for his first handicap win at Newbury fourteen months ago. He races off a 6lbs higher mark on Saturday, but with the weather in monsoon mode, a bigger concern would be the likely ground conditions. He did win a maiden on soft ground as a two year old but performing so well on a fast surface, there must be doubts about his ability to handle really testing conditions.

Roger Varian’s other contender, the 5yo entire by Galileo, Battersea, finished a well beaten 8th in last years renewal off a mark of 99 and tries again off a mark of 104. Campaigned in Dubai over the winter he put up some pretty decent performances, winning a handicap (1m6f good) off a mark of 98, and finishing 4th in a Group3 last time. His stamina will undoubtedly be a bonus at the weekend, but he is unproven on soft and with the steadier of 9st7lbs on his back, looks up against it.

Following an injury the Paul Webber trained 5yo Gwafa hasn’t raced on the flat for 21 months, but showed he was fully restored to health when winning the highly competitive Swinton Hurdle over the course at the beginning of May when a strongly backed 6/1 shot. In his last race on the flat in September 2014, he got to within 1 1/2L of Battersea and meets him on 9lbs better terms at the weekend. If indeed back to his best, as is strongly suggested by that blinding performance in the Swinton, he does look well handicapped. Will he handle the ground? Well he has won on “Winter” ground when winning on soft at Fakenham and Gd/Sft at Huntingdon so the omens look good.

David Simcock runs his 4yo, Desert Encounter, and this lightly raced son of Halling looks very interesting. Having raced only seven times he has won the last four. He is the type who only does the bare minimum in his races, making it extremely difficult for the handicapper to get hold of him. He has won over 14f at Newmarket, and has won twice on soft ground, so neither stamina nor the likely going should present problems. He won seven days ago on soft ground of a mark of 91 and it will come as no surprise if he finishes the season racing off a considerably higher mark. Certainly Saturday’s 96 looks “doable” and is one for the shortlist.

Selection: Duretto

E.W. : Desert Encounter (if abs. Gwafa)

Temple Stakes Betting Tips

Temple Stakes Betting Tips 5f Group2 Haydock Saturday.

I hope you were on last week’s selection, Belardo, the 8/1 winner of the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes. Slowly out of the gate, he went left and was soon behind. However Andrea Atzeni always had the field covered, and when he pressed the button inside the final furlong the response was immediate, and he took the lead in the style of a top class animal. This was reminiscent of his victory in the Group1 Dewhurst as a 2yo, when Atzeni was also on top, and he does seem to have an excellent rapport with the horse. Belardo’s action does require some give in the surface for him to perform to his optimum, and given such conditions on the first day of Royal Ascot, he would definitely appeal in the opening heat, The Queen Anne Stakes.

Mecca’s Angel is another animal who loves to get her toe in, and I’m sure connections would love to see the heavens open in advance of Saturday’s Temple Stakes at Haydock. Last year she made her seasonal debut in a Longchamp Group3, winning comfortably on easy ground. She was found out ten weeks later at the Curragh on good ground, going down by a neck to the useful Stepper Point, but next time, back on good-soft ground she covered herself in glory winning the Group1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York in some style. The flying American 2yo filly, Acapulco, who had earlier won the Queen Mary Stakes at the Royal, meeting was sent off the 13/8 favourite, but even in receipt of 24lbs she couldn’t resist Mecca’s Angel’s devastating late burst inside the last 100 yards and was beaten 2L. She didn’t run in the Prix D’Labbaye because of the fast ground and was put away for the season. Having won in the Spring in all three of her campaigns, and indeed finished in front first time out for the last two seasons, she is clearly a mare who comes to hand early, so with plenty of wet weather forecast, she has to be fancied and it may be worth availing of the 3/1 currently on offer.

Top trainer of sprinters, Robert Cowell, is mob handed with five entered at the time of writing. They include the 2013 winner Kingsgate Native and it would be wonderful to see this 11yo veteran do it again, but realistically his best chance lies with the 7yo Oasis Dream gelding, Goldream. Another proverbial “Fine Wine” he didn’t try his hand at group class until last May when he won the Group3 Palace House Stakes at Newmarket. Better was to come with two Group1 victories, in the Kings Stand at Royal Ascot, and The Prix D’ Labbaye at Longchamp. He has been disappointing in his two outings so far this term, both in Dubai in March, but his trainer now reports him back to his best. However he is another who is ground dependant, needing a fast surface to show his best and the current forecast is not in his favour. Also he has a Group1 penalty to carry so perhaps he is one for later in the season.

Clive Cox’s 4yo Invincible Spirit colt, Profitable demonstrated that he is a sprinter on the “up” last time when winning the Palace House Stakes in taking fashion where he stayed on strongly to get the better of Jungle Cat, and Waady. As the Cox horse drifted from 16/1 to 20/1 and Waady was backed in to 9/2 favourite it is reasonable to suppose that Profitable has the greater scope for improvement and is likely to confirm the form. Partnered again by Adam Kirby, who has been in the plate for all three of his victories he is well worth considering.

Edward Lynam’s super old warrior Sole Power won this five years ago and judging by his run at Meydan at the beginning of March it wouldn’t come as a great surprise to see him do it again. As always held up he came with a great run and only failed by a nose and a short head to get up to beat Fityaan and Jungle Cat. Both subsequent efforts have been less encouraging but given good ground you ignore this 5f specialist and winner of over £2,000,000 in prize money at your peril.

The 7yo entire, Pearl Secret, having been second to Hot Streak in this in 2014, he took the main prize last year. He failed to hit the back of the net in his next six races but put in some great efforts in defeat, not least when finishing 4th in the Prix D’Labbaye at Longchamp in October. Drawn out with the washing in stall fifteen jockey Atzeni had little choice but to drop him in and he travelled in last place until approaching the final furlong where he finished well to finish fourth. Oisin Murphy is in the plate at the weekend and his chance is respected but it is worth noting that this is his first run of the season and his previous win and second in the event were preceded by a race. Is he match fit?

Selection : Mecca’s Angel

E.W.      :  Profitable

Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle Tips

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

Betfred Grand National Trial 3m4f handicap Haydock

Having won three of the last ten renewals, Lucinda Russell’s sole entry, One For Arthur, has to be of interest. The 7yo, who has had only four races over the larger obstacles, can be excused a poor performance last time at Cheltenham (2m5f). Unsuited by the Prestbury Park undulations and over a trip too short, he finished a well beaten fifth. However his two chases at flat, left handed Kelso were more promising, yielding a win, and a third place, behind Seeyouatmidnight who is very prominent in the market for the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. He was beaten 21L but was conceding 5lbs to Seeyouatmidnight,so it can be considered a decent effort. The previous Russell winners were aged 8,9, and 11, but three 7yo’s have won this in the last seventeen years so age shouldn’t count against him. A course winner over the smaller obstacles on heavy ground he is racing off a mark on Saturday 3lbs lower than his hurdles mark suggesting this promising young stayer has plenty in his favour.

The Paul Nicholls trained Unioniste had disappointed in his previous five races (two of them over the Aintree fences) since winning at Sandown in January 2015, but hinted at better things to come last time. Held up and seemingly struggling, he started to progress from the 17th fence and stayed on to finish third behind La Reve in a Sandown handicap racing off a mark of 150, two weeks ago. Running off the same mark at the weekend, he will have top weight of 11st10lbs to carry, but it didn’t stop his superb trainer winning with Shotgun Willy carrying the same weight in 2003, and indeed Silver By Nature also carried 11st10lbs to victory five years ago. With odds as long as 16/1 available at the time of writing, this winner of six of his nineteen starts over fences does look tempting.

David Pipe’s 8yo Broadway Buffalo ran a fine race in a valuable Grade1 3m hurdle at Auteuil last November finishing 5th, at level weights only 5L behind the winner, the top class Thousand Stars. Considering it was his first run since finishing 6th in the Scottish National last April the performance was particularly meritorious. He is two from three over the course having collected a 2m7f soft ground handicap hurdle in 2014 and the same years renewal of the Tommy Whittle Chase. Indeed he might well have brought up the hat trick but for falling at the 16th when still travelling strongly in last years Betfred Grand National Trial. Stamina won’t be an issue as he has finished second in the 4m National Hunt Chase at the Festival. Off a mark only 4lbs higher than last year he has to be on the shortlist.

The Pipe yard is also represented by the 7yo Vieux Lion Rouge who also boasts winning chase form over the course. However he was being pushed along when unseating at the third last over 3m2f at Cheltenham last time, and his stable companion would seem to possess the better stamina credentials for this.

Sandy Thomson’s 11yo Harry The Viking has run well on all three course appearances, and ran a super race when going down by a head in last years renewal racing off a mark of 124. Remarkably for an 11yo it can be argued that he even trumped that when running second to Rigadin de Beauchene again over the course (3m3 31/2f hvy) in December off a mark of 128. Running off the same mark on Saturday it will come as no surprise to see this hardy veteran again involved at the business end when plenty of the others have cried “enough”.

Alan Kings 8yo Sego Success looked a strong stayer when winning a 3m Doncaster handicap off a mark of 139 in December, and duly went off a well backed 7/1 favourite to take a 3m5f Warwick Grade 3 chase off a mark of 146 five weeks later. In a strange start to a marathon race on heavy ground,they tore off the blocks, and the King horse hit the deck at the second. Always thought of as a stayer and held in high regard his best days are surely in front of him so again racing off 146 is another worth considering.

The Jonjo O’Neill trained 8yo Spookydooky didn’t jump a fence in public until finishing a well beaten 4th in an Aintree novices chase last November. He showed remarkable improvement nineteen days later taking a 2m6 1/2f Newbury novices handicap chase off a mark of 134 and again ran well next time finishing second to Seventh Sky off a mark of 142 on heavy ground at Haydock in December. He had Cloudy too, who went on to win the valuable Peter Marsh Chase, (was Oddsguru’s e.w. Selection) next time out, 6L behind, and now meets that horse on 11lbs better terms, so does look well handicapped. The question is will he stay? It has to be said that he hasn’t looked as if he was crying out for further in any of his races to date, but his pedigree, on both sides has plenty of stamina in it and he has won a 3m and a 3m 1/2f hurdle race, so while the omens are positive the jury remains out.

Selection: Broadway Buffalo

E.W. : Unioniste

Peter Marsh Chase Haydock Odds

Last week’s E.W. Selection, Midnight Prayer gave us a great run for our money and must surely have collected but for making that “howler” at the third last in such testing conditions. However it was only his second outing of the campaign and with further improvement certain, he is one to keep in mind for the big one at Aintree inApril. Saturday’s Peter Marsh Chase is going to be run on similar attritional ground so once again stamina is going to be of paramount importance.

First run in 1981 it certainly attracted some high class animals in its early years, with no less than four Cheltenham Gold Cup winners featuring on the roll of honour in its first ten renewals. It can safely be said that none of Saturday’s contestants will be troubling the Prestbury Park judges in the big one on March 18th, but nevertheless plenty of decent animals have won this in recent years, with seven of the last ten winners racing off a mark of 140 or higher. Indeed Cloudy Lane collected in 2006 off a mark of 155, carrying 11st10lbs, demonstrating that weight has been no bar to success. Course form has been a most significant factor, with ten of the last seventeen winners boasting a previous course win. It hasn’t been a race for the younger brigade as we have to go back to 1996 to find a winner younger than eight, (Scotton Banks). The McCain yard, with two wins, has the best recent record, but Sue Smiths achievement of saddling a winner and five placed horses from nine runners in the last nine renewals is certainly worth noting, and makes her 10yo, Cloudy Two of considerable interest.

Unsuccessful since winning a Wetherby Grade3 handicap off a mark of 148 over two years ago Cloudy Too has been disappointing since, but showed signs of a revival over the course six weeks ago. He was in the process of running a decent race, travelling nicely in second behind the eventual winner Seventh Sky, when blundering badly at the fourth last. To his credit he kept on for third place 13L behind the winner. But for the mistake he would certainly have finished a lot closer and meets the winner on 10lbs better terms so this previous course winner is certainly worth considering.

It is amazing to see the six times Grade1 hurdles winner, Reve de Sivola, who has been rated as high as 167 at his peak, racing off a mark of 139 in this different discipline, and if he puts in a performance within a stone of his best over the smaller obstacles, Saturday’s opponents might as well stay in their stables. However his ten attempts over fences to date, have yielded a score of zero, although he has put up some decent performances, getting placed in Festival handicaps at Cheltenham and Aintree and coming fourth in a Grade1 chase at Punchestown. He won’t be inconvenienced by Saturday’s heavy ground, and indeed the more pedestrian pace and easy fences may well help his fencing technique, and spark a revival in the old warriors chasing career.

Despite being only seven, the Paul Nicholl’s trained Virak has had plenty of chasing experience. He has contested ten chases, winning four of them and being placed in five of the other six, so perhaps his age shouldn’t be viewed as too much of a negative. In his last race, six weeks ago at Ascot, racing off a mark of 158, he looked a tad unlucky. He tried to challenge between the the two horses in front of him before the last, but failing to get through he had to switch right. Despite loss of momentum he stayed on strongly and was only beaten a length, with the third horse, Saturday’s opponent, Fingal Bay, 3/4L back in third. Hopefully he will be ridden again by Nicholl’s fine young claimer, Harry Cobden taking offa useful 7lbs giving him a racing weight of 11st3lbs. He handles the ground and is a previous course winner, so clearly has plenty going for him.

Considering it was only his third attempt over fences, Jonjo O’Neills Spookydooky put up a decent enough performance when finishing second to another of Saturday’s opponents, Seventh Sky, over the course six weeks ago, when racing offa mark of 142. Further progress can be expected from this animal whose pedigree is all about stamina, and meeting Seventh Sky on 9 lbs better terms, things should be much closer at the weekend. A slight reservation would be the poor current form of the Jackdaw’s Castle operation who are struggling for winners.

Selection : Virak.

E.W. : Cloudy too.