We start with a Class five handicap on a average days racing with what appears limited betting opportunities. Sandgate is currently favourite for Richard Fahey and Shergar Cup jockey Samantha Bell. Winner over course and distance was maybe found out by the soft going at Ayr the last day when finishing third. Drawn well in box twelve this gelding must have a chance if the rain stays away. A high draw is key at Haydock no matter the distance and the one drawn next to the FAV is my selection. Mash Potato will not bowl you over with recent form, however the trainer Michael Dods is having a good spell and this one is back to a more feasible mark if finding its form from last year. He won off 60 last season and while still rated seven pounds higher, has placed off a one pound higher mark. At the current odds that would be more than acceptable. Mash Potato finished eight of nine last time out but that was in a muddling race where the winner was allowed dictate even with stamina not assured. That horse has since gone on again. So the form is reliable. His last race was also a better class of this grade and he should be able to carry top weight with at least some distinction. My last point on the selection is he has just under 50% strike rate of finishing in the top three, and is not subject to ground conditions.
Off the remainder the biggest danger looks to come from Instill on handicap début. He is a well bred gelding and comes from a shrewd yard. Market confidence would be key.
Mash Potato (E/W)
We stay at the northern track for our second selection for a mile fillies class five handicap. Privileged represents a strong yard and connections but a handicap win at Chelmsford would not inspire the greatest of confidence. She is actually better off at the weights here with Stuart Gray claim but with skimpy price on offer its seems wise to look elsewhere. Run Fat Lass Run is an interesting contender but still has a six pound penalty to overcome even after running since winning. The last run was in an apprentice handicap and while that form is modest at best. It wouldn’t surprise me to see this one involved with Ben Curtis back on board and a more positive ride.
However the one I am most interested in is the Marco Botti filly, Warm Reception. This one makes her handicap début here after two modest runs on the all weather, the daughter of Acclamation gave a glimpse of her potential in her third run in a Wolverhampton maiden. She travelled sweetly into the race and just prior to making her move was blocked by the eventual second. That form has worked out reasonably well. Completely disregarded that day, first time on turf and in a handicap she can show that a mark of 64 is a blot on the handicap.
Warm Reception (E/W if 9/2+)
For our final stop its over to Ireland for a customary selection from the Emerald Isle. A competitive looking race over just under two miles, and currently 9/2 the field, held by the Ballydoyle inmate Ivanovich Gorbatov. The Coolmore team and targeted a couple of staying horses at this type of handicap this season, however this one does not look the best handicapped unless the first time headgear bring improvement. A couple of horses from his win have gone on to win. But in my honest opinion a rating of 97 may flatter. Likely to be heavily backed is overlooked. Venezia was put up by myself as a horse to follow and this race should suit after a slowly run affair last time out. Beaten by Hurricane Sky last time its hard to see that form reversed.
Another horse with a chance is Daneking of Willie Mullins, off the back of a tremendous Galway this horse has the services of man of the hour Pat Smullen which is a massive positive. However it will take a step up to win here. Not won on the flat since 2012 for John Gosden.
The selection is a horse I fancied to run well at Galway but unseated the rider leaving the stalls. The yard still won the race with Modem but its interesting this one is turned out again quickly. This horse to me looks decently handicapped and should be winning one of these pots soon. Her run behind Zafayan over a shorter trip at this course, that horse finished second to Trip To Paris in the Chester Cup and has since run two belters over hurdles, is strong and she remains on the same mark. Hopefully she gets a clear run, if so will be involved.