It’s off to Merseyside for the pick of this Saturday’s Racing action as Haydock plays host to what is just about the tracks best card of the year. We have seven races on offer in all, including two Group races and a Listed event.
The ground at the track is currently riding good to soft, but with plenty of rain forecast in the area, we wouldn’t be surprised to see it come up soft on the day. And soft at Haydock really does mean soft, a fact we will be bearing in mind when making our selections here.
Read Luke Morris Blog At Unibet Handicap (Class 2) 1m6f
In a day headlined by the Group 1 sprinters, it is the handicapping stayers who set the ball rolling in this contest for the three year olds. Ben Vrackie looks set to be popular for John Gosden having not been beaten far in a Group 3 last time out. He wouldn’t have much in hand over the Andrew Balding runner Natural History on their earlier clash at Newcastle though, with the Balding charge getting a 14lb pull in the weights for 4¼l. It looks tough to split that pair to us and as such we fancy the value may lie in backing the Irish raider in the field to prove better than them both.
Jessica Harrington’s Persian Lion has reportedly been something of a late developer having taken a little time to grow into his frame. He certainly showed that he’s getting the hang of things now though when winning ever so easily over 1m7f at Leopardstown last time out. Travelling like a dream throughout, he showed a good turn of foot to put the race to bed and he couldn’t be in better hands to continue his progress through the staying ranks.
Unibet Mile (Group 3) 1m
This looks a really interesting Group 3 contest with all eyes likely to be on the Sir Michael Stoute trained Regal Reality. Two from three in his career to date, this son of Intello is the most lightly raced runner in the field and it seems likely we may not have seen the best of him yet. The manner in which he mowed down the field in the closing stages last time out was impressive, and he’s a must for the shortlist despite a 3lb penalty for that success.
Circus Couture looks very interesting on his Italian form – three times a winner on soft or heavy ground, and three times a winner at this Group 3 level. He’s only really run well once in five starts since joining the Jane Chapple-Hyam operation though which is a little off-putting. Similar comments apply to Mark Johnston’s Threading who at her best is just about the most well treated runner in the field, but hasn’t been anywhere near that best form in recent starts.
The each way options just look that little too risky for us and we will be sticking with Regal Reality who looked good last time and showed he could handle soft ground when winning on debut.
Tip: Regal Reality to win at 3.00 with SkyBet
32Red Casino Ascendant Stakes (Listed) 1m
There’s plenty to like about the John Gosden trained son of Scat Daddy, Beatboxer in this juvenile contest. A perfect two from two in his career to date, the latest of those wins came when running away with a Novice event over this course and distance last time out – an effort which should see him go off favourite here. We would however be just a little concerned about the ground for this one. Those two wins have come on good to firm, a surface on which his sire boasts a 22% strike rate. On soft ground that win percentage falls to 10%.
Side instead with the Tom Dascombe representative, Great Scot. This one was unlucky not to take his record to three wins from as many starts last time out; coming with a real late rattle and only just failing to get up in a Listed contest at Deauville. That came on good to soft which augurs well for his chances of handling conditions, and we fancy it may take a good one to hold him off in the closing stages.
Tip: Great Scot to win at 4.50 with SkyBet
32Red Casino Handicap (Class 2) 1m6f
Mark Johntson’s, Hochfeld heads the betting for the second of the days staying handicaps, and whilst he did run a cracker in a Listed event at Chester last time out, he has been beaten a total of 30 lengths in just two starts on soft or heavy ground. He’s not the only one towards the head of the market with a question mark to answer here though, and overall none of those trading at single figure odds make a pervasive enough case to warrant support.
The one to take a chance on is Iain Jardine’s, Bedrock. This dual purpose performer gets a tick in the going box, courtesy of a fine third in a soft ground Top Novices Hurdle down the road at Aintree in 2017. The vast majority of Bedrock’s best efforts have come when racing on the front end, so it wasn’t too surprising to see him fail to get involved when held up in his two most recent starts. 3lbs below his career high mark, we are anticipating a return to racing up with the pace here and a bold show could be on the cards.
Tip: Bedrock each way at 13.00 with SkyBet
32Red Sprint Cup Stakes (Group 1) 6f
Next up the big race of the day and one of the very best 6f contests of the season. Plenty of big guns on show here; including the talented and consistent Tasleet who was second in this last season for William Haggas; Commonwealth Cup hero Eqtidaar; 2017 Diamond Jubilee King, The Tin Man and Sir Dancealot who drops back down in trip following two Group 2 wins at 7f. Possibly the most intriguing runner in the field though is the Aidan O’Brien trained Gustav Klimt. Sixth in the 2000 Guineas, third in the Irish 2000 and second in the St. James Palace Stakes, he’s gone a little off the boil of late but perhaps the drop in trip will spark him back to life.
Overall though we can’t get away from the market leader and defending Champion, Harry Angel. 7lbs clear of the field on official ratings, he’s a perfect two from two at the track and handles easy ground very well. In truth he didn’t just win this race twelve months ago, he absolutely pulverised the field to pull right away for a four length success. Ignore his last effort at Ascot as he blew all chance when getting tangled up in the starting stalls. Given a nice break since, we will be backing him to return to his brilliant best here.
Tip: Harry Angel to win at 2.25 with SkyBet