Post-racing update: two fallers highlight once more the difficulty of regular performances like last Saturday’s, in that it is quite rare for every selection to run its race. Two short-priced winners helped save a whitewash and our running total now to a £1 stake per selection in 2018 is a loss of £3.15
£2.10 ahead coming into this so let’s see if we can stay ahead.
Watching Graceful Legend last time in just her 2nd outing in cheekpieces (won the first one) I got the strong impression she was taking the mickey out of her young rider. She consented to run on late and made up quite a bit of ground without ever looking to put it all in. I’m not surprised to see the boy replaced here by Kielan Woods. The longer trip should be in her favour and she has won here. Her price looks too big.
Graceful Legend 10/1
A typical tricky Saturday handicap hurdle with three or four in it who are less than straightforward but very capable on their day. I’m nominating two: Oxwich Bay, young and improving but something of an idler going by his last run, a trait that sometimes sees you done on the post in races like this.
And I’ll add one at a bigger price who might also have his moods but is too big to miss here given his talent. He’d probably prefer better ground but I’m hoping he’ll handle this and he could be a wee bit of a handicap snip in this first time hood – Whatmore. The yard is in good form.
Whatmore 25/1 Oxwich Bay 7/1
I made the case earlier in the week for Guitar Pete and will stick with him. I suspect the key to him was his Wetherby win as much as his Cheltenham one last time. That Wetherby victory was achieved in the style of a horse who has found his place on an upward curve.
Guitar Pete – already tipped at 6/1
Un De Sceaux is one of my favourites and he should be too good for these despite the welter weight of cash for Brain Power this week. Kylemore Lough also has many supporters who have lost a lot collectively on this horse, the subject of some pretty hefty gambles himself.
Un De Sceaux 1/2
The Rossington Main Hurdle, one of the few races still retaining its title over many years. First run in 1971 it brings back many memories of my early days in racing. The great Sea Pigeon won this in 1975, Grand Canyon in ’76 and French Hollow in ’77.
I doubt there is anything of that class here but time will tell. Lostintranslation has potential but the Tizzards are a tough bunch to figure out. Robbie Power got off the horse last time and told Colin Tizzard he ought to avoid running in deep ground. The trainer apparently agreed yet he turns up in what is sure to be the usual winter Haydock heavy.
One horse untroubled by heavy ground here last time was Waterlord and he also managed to earn a good Topspeed figure – a challenge in testing ground at Haydock and a good pointer I think to his chances here. First Flow could give him most to do.
Despite the fact he has won this race three times, I always get the impression that The New One hates it here in this ground. But if one thing typifies this horse it’s his ability to get the job done in races like this whereas his two main market rivals are the opposite – time and again they struggle to get the job done.
From a point of personal interest, I dislike seeing The New One, who wants better ground, slogging it out in races like this with the Festival not that far off. That goes double this time as I feel he has a real chance of winning the stayers unless old Twister’s Champion Hurdle obsession kicks in again late.
The New One 5/4
The Peter Marsh, another race with a strong history and some top notch winners. Following improving horses has always proved fruitful for me. They key is finding them while they are still ahead of the handicapper.
There are two in this and I recommend a pound on each. Hainan is the first one. He wore everything down last time in this ground at this track over two-and-a-half furlongs farther and in a manner which suggested he’ll gain confidence from it. I don’t think dropping back in trip will affect him too much as I suspect he has found his niche at the deep ground staying chase game. Rail movements take today’s trip up to 3m 2f.
One who is perhaps more interesting and more likely to go on and pick up races on better ground is Forest Des Aigles. He doesn’t look that big but can fairly spring over fences and he strikes me as a potential Grand National candidate at some point. No way of saying if he’ll stay that far but he’s in good hands with the yard who won the National last year. He can just lose concentration at times at a fence but hopefully that’s inexperience and he should soon put such lapses behind him, touch wood.
Hainan 6/1 Forest Des Aigles 12/1
Enjoy the racing and don’t bet more than you can afford to lose with a smile.