TV TIPS (SATURDAY)
The Channel 4 action starts with a handicap chase over two-miles-two-furlongs with ten runners looking set to go to post.
It looks an open affair and four-year-old Mon Successeur is likely to be prominent in the market. However his attitude can be questioned, especially after his second to Otago Trial when last seen at Exeter, he had every chance when leading but seemed to idle when hitting the front plus it may not have been helpful that Harry Cobden had dropped his whip. I’m slightly surprised that Paul Nicholls hasn’t reached for the headgear just yet.
La Vaticane travelled well for a long way at Newbury three weeks ago but found the stamina test too much. David Pipe steps this grey mare back down in trip to one, which should suit. That Newbury third looks good on paper beaten by an improving Aloomomo and only beaten on the run-in for second. If able to replicate something similar to that run then she should be able to make her presence felt.
Dartford Warbler looks the pace angle for Sue Smith and recently won over further when making all at Market Rasen last time but the handicapper has put him up 10lb for that success. Gores Island has to be of interest considering the good form of Gary Moore and off a falling mark could be one of value but has to bounce back from a bit of a flat run just nine days ago around Taunton. Again he is one that should enjoy this testing ground with some of his wins coming on heavy ground.
The two at the top are interesting contenders too. Venetia Williams saddles Marcilhac, who makes his return after a 644-day absence. When last seen he was finishing a narrow second at Kempton to Carole’s Destrier in the Silver Plate. The winner recently won the London National for Neil Mulholland suggesting that is a strong piece of form. We know that Williams can get her horses ready first time, so this is one to watch based on the strength of the market. Mountain King is a course winner and won’t mind the ground. He’s only a six-year-old and one that is making slow strides. His fourth at Wetherby two starts ago with the progressive winner Wakanda winning again since but is one that may require a trip.
La Vaticane (WIN)
Conditions at Haydock could turn the action into slow motion, so stamina could be important. The first race we cover from there is a two-mile-two-furlong handicap hurdle.
Three Faces West won all three starts for Donald McCain and still looks relatively well treated off his current mark of 130. He found plenty for pressure when winning at Haydock in March holding off Wild Bill, who did slightly hit the rail on the run-in. He does look the one to beat and has to be respected having his first run for Philip Hobbs having won a point-to-point over three miles on bad ground.
Aerlite Supreme remains on the same mark from when second to Rock The Kasbah at Haydock last time. The Hobbs trained winner is rated 144 after that win and this Evan Williams runner can easily figure. He travelled well enough and was maybe done for a bit of toe in the closing stages. He’s likely to stay and jumped well at Haydock when the tempo when was turned up a notch by the front-runner Vendor, who set good fractions. That form was boosted when the third Stilletto won a Beginners’ Chase at Catterick at the start of the month. At the prices he looks like a cracking piece of value considering he is likely to stay further in time.
Montdragon won at Warwick and a few that completed in behind that day have since gone on to get their head in front. Laurium and himself pulled well clear of the rest suggesting they were worth taking from the race. He cost €185,000 after going close in France previously and showed a good attitude staying on well to claim victory on his second start for the yard. Jonjo O’Neill’s stable is hit and miss but if on a going day could be a contender.
Aerlite Supreme (E/W)
Reve De Sivola is looking to write his name in the history books by winning the Long Walk Hurdle for a fourth consecutive year. He beat Zarkander in this race by a head last year to join Big Bucks with three wins in this race. The ten-year-old ran in a Grade 1 at Auteuil won by Thousand Stars as his preparation for this. We know he knows his way around here and could offer value.
Saphir Du Rheu was fifth in a gruelling Hennessy and returns to be campaigned for the World Hurdle. That race was only three-weeks ago and it was likely to take a lot out of him so we may not see the best of him here. He has form over the recent winner of this race beating him by a neck in the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle in January.
Colin Tizzard has started firing again in big races and his improving Thistlecrack gets my vote here. He was given a patient ride by Tom Scuadmore at Newbury on his seasonal reappearance when winning the Grade 2 Long Distance Hurdle. He has all the right characteristics to go again and claim a race of this nature. Considering he apparently needed the run at Newbury then he should be in fine fettle coming into this race.
If one of the outsiders were going to spoil the party and finish in a place then Deputy Dan would get that nod. Oliver Sherwood’s charge followed Thistlecrack home at Newbury and the blinkers seemed to help him that day. He was giving 4lb to the Tizzard runner that day and today they’re off level weights but he’d have to find extra to pull off a victory.
The second contest coming from Haydock is a Handicap Chase over two-miles-six-furlongs and there could be some value in the market.
Spookydooky won last time at Newbury when Richard Johnson overused the whip. He showed good attitude to battle and beat Warriors Tale by a head and has gone up 8lb for that success. He won a point-to-point in Ireland on heavy ground, so this shouldn’t be a problem but with the rise in the weights may struggle to follow up.
Charlie Mann has a potential Grand National horse on his hands in the shape of Seventh Sky who shoulders top weight here. He was second to Bennys Mist in the Grand Sefton when last seen but is likely to want better ground.
Two little each-way plays in the race for me would be O’Maonlai and Cloudy Too. The former was staying on late and took second at Newbury to finish behind Aloomomo. As stated above that form looked strong and this lightly race seven-year-old could find this race ran too his liking. He won his Maiden Hurdle on heavy ground when trained in Ireland, so the ground doesn’t worry me too much. He could still have more to offer off this mark, he just needs to be more consistent and start by running a good race here.
Cloudy Too loves the mud and is three from three on heavy ground, so ticks that box. His last win came back in 2013 in a Group 3 around Wetherby but now looks really well handicapped off this mark of 138. He’s hard to back on what he has showed so far this season but at Newcastle last time he was probably out of his depth in that Listed contest so dropped in grade and on ground he relishes could see him bounce back to showing signs of old.
Cloudy Too (E/W)
A Listed race worth nearly £57,000 to the winner and it looks an intriguing renewal with the last two winners in The Young Master and Houblon Des Obeaux in the line-up, plus the latter was second last year.
Neither gets the vote here though. Pendra looks the one to beat with the manner he won the Grade 3 Gold Cup Handicap Chase here in Ocotber. That race has plenty of good form coming out of it unsurprisingly. He has been a talking horse so if able to replicate that run should go close considering he has only gone up 7lb for that success last time. The son of Old Vic has handled soft ground previously but if this turns into a stamina test then others may prove to be stronger.
The one that looks the value is Sue Smith’s Wakanda who has won his last two races both at this level around Wetherby and Newcastle. The manner in which he won at Newcastle three weeks ago was taking. He was pressured all the way by Virak, who re-opposes here, but fought gamely in a bit of a slog in the end to win. He’s only a six-year-old and could have more to offer at this level. With a likeable attitude and a solid jumper then he makes the appeal.
Salubrious has won both of his starts over the larger obstacles and won on heavy ground at Carlisle when last seen. He’s been given time to get over that run, so makes the shortlist while Seefood is one at a really big price that may be worth a look considering his move from Sandra Hughes in Ireland to Dr Richard Newland. He has been off the track for 141-days but horses can find improvement and go well fresh for the Doctor.
The Ladbroke is a Grade 3 race ran over a trip just a shade under two-miles and this looks a highly competitive renewal there being plenty on the shortlist.
Gordon Elliot has won this race in two of the last three renewals so Vercingetorix is a fascinating runner. He’s got plenty of two’s by his name and wore the blinkers for the first time on handicap debut but that was a disappointing effort and the tongue-tie has been added for this.
The main selection in this race has to be Winner Massagot. Alan King has his string in excellent order and this gallops partner of Yanworth, who continued his unbeaten start over hurdles yesterday, has to be a play here. This son of Muhaymin was a course and distance winner last month on his return and won well despite being free early on. He’ll have likely to have improved for that run and strip fitter making him hard to ignore.
Harry Fry’s yard is another in good form and Jolly’s Cracked It is one horse of his that I really like. Two of his three wins have been over course and distance and this has been his target, so should be in tip-top order coming into this race. He was a close third on his return only and was beaten into second by a nose by David Pipe’s Unanimate.
Waxies Dargle and Renneti were both behind Old Guard in the Grade 3 Hurdle at Cheltenham last month and we’ve seen that Nicholls’ horse come out and win again suggesting they are worth looking at but the Irish one that offers some each-way value is Sort It Out for Edward Harty. He’s run a few speed figures of late and was second in the County Hurdle at the Festival won by Wicklow Brave. He may want further than this trip but if they go off too quickly then this six-year-old has the stamina on his side to come with a late challenge.
Of the rest then Sternrubin looked to be an improving type on the back of his latest victory plus his two seconds behind Lil Rockerfeller look strong form and he can’t be easily discounted. Harry Cobden has tasted plenty of Saturday success and his 7lb claim sees Vicenzo Mio carrying little weigh meaning he’s in with a chance and this horse also has form ties behind Lil Rockerfeller.
Winner Massagot (E/W)
Sort It Out (E/W)
Listen to our latest podcast as we team up with The Value Rater and give our thoughts on The Long Walk Hurdle.