Infuriatingly for me Cloudy Bob finally went in at his beloved Kempton last time, a tough and consistent sort he has every chance of going in again despite going up the weights and being away from his favourite venue. Ballyboley bumped into one at Kempton the last day, he would have been a clear 2nd if he hadn’t made a terrible mistake three out. Yet to win over fences it takes a bit of courage backing him on the nose but he has a nice profile and is handed afforded another chance to finally get off the mark in this sphere. Rakitman bolted up at Catterick and the handicapper has taken a swipe at him for that, he will go on the ground though and is worth considering. The Cobbler Swayne was penalised 3lbs after beating a good type at Ayr last time and is another to consider, his form actually looks rock solid and the handicapper may have let him off lightly for that latest success. The Italian Yob looks thoroughly untrustworthy, he threw away victory last time but is a definite player if consenting today.
Ballyboley (EW if 9/2+)
William Muir saddles two in this though Restorer is comfortably more intriguing than Truth Or Dare. Unbeaten 1st time up he must overcome a lengthy absence but the same was to be said last year yet he easily won a Newmarket Listed event. Conceding weight all round it will be a very good performance should he take this but he is taken to do just that, en-route to better things. Windshear has every chance on the book and can go well fresh, he should have a say but his better form is over further. Our Chanel was giving lumps of weight to Truth Or Dare when just holding that rival off here last time and should confirm that off level weights. He is probably the main danger though Noble Gift could prove hard to peg back if getting an easy lead.
Open looking, big runner contests seem to be the order of the day at Haydock and that trend continues with the second race from the Lancashire track, shown live on Channel 4.
The market leader and top weight Emerging Force looks to claim back to back victories but a massive hike in the weights and a much more competitive field to go up against and the Harry Whittington runner looks well and truly up against it.
The horse I do like has only raced twice this season and may have more left than its rivals that have had much tougher campaigns. World Hurdle winning trainer Warren Greatrex sends Alzammar into this on the back of a more promising third placed finish. A previous seventh in a big runner handicap behind subsequent festival winner Nowatimeanharry looks decent form and 10/1 just looks too good a price to ignore.
Bottom weight Petethepear could go close but the fact it remains a maiden after so many attempts is awfully disconcerting.
Fingerontheswitch looks the biggest threat but I’m hoping a recent rise in weights will scupper its chances.
After a comfortable victory at Chelmsford last time out the lightly raced Barsanti has a great chance of making it two on the spin here today. The distance shouldn’t be of any major concern and coming from a top yard it has a fantastic, if obvious, chance of claiming top spot today. The horse is probably priced correctly at around 3/1 and I couldn’t put people off backing the horse. This being said however I feel I may have unearthed much better value in the form of seven year old Whispering Warrior. I’m sure the horse isn’t quite as good as it once more but it’s very interesting to note that top all-weather jockey Adam Kirby rides the horse for the first time today, With a decent draw in stall three and now residing just one pound higher than its last winning mark the David Simcock runner could be a lively danger if recapturing its best form.
Master Of Finance represents the bang in form yard of Mark Johnston but I worry about the horses experience on an artificial surface and wether or not it’ll take to it.
Dutch Uncle is another horse that displays an obvious threat but unfortunately I fear it may be turning into the proverbial bridesmaid and Ed Dunlop’s runner seems to struggling getting its head in front.
Whispering Warrior (E/W)
The second to last race we witness at Haydock in todays live, televised action is yet again another big runner handicap and I feel I may have found a runner that has a bit of value. I’m hoping said value comes in the form of the current 25/1 shot Valleyofmilan. Donald McCain is starting to get his yard firing and this runner looks to improve the teams recent high strike rate. The horse has only raced at the venue once before when, early in its career, it finished second behind an improving horse that day. It returns near to its last winning mark and has won with more weight onboard in the past. Talented amateur jockey James Cowley takes the reigns and claims an extra five pounds off the horses back and with such a big price on offer it looks far too good to turn down.
The bookies favourite Bakue Bay isn’t a horse I could be too confident about as it hasn’t won in a long time and is neglected in favour of one of its bigger priced rivals.
Gonalston Cloud has been on a cracking run of victories but this race looks too big a step up and although lightly raced I fear it doesn’t have the scope for improvement it may need to win this contest.
The last race from Kempton shown on Channel 4 sees a six furlong sprint contest to decipher.
Seven of the nine runners have course victories to their names so clearly todays conditions won’t inconvenience most of the field. However with a draw bias over this sprint trip and the need for an inside draw I’m going to discount any horses drawn higher than stall five. This gets rid of a few including the favourite Spring Loaded and the top weight, a horse I rate highly, in the form of Related. Of the remaining five runners the inconsistent Yeow isn’t trustworthy enough to back as you never know what to expect from the Karl Burke runner.
Both Plucky Dip and Invincible Diamond need to make a huge leap forward in what they’ve shown previously to get involved and finally Searchlight looks to go one better than it did last time out.
All this aside however it’s David Barron’s Steelriver that looks worth backing today. Although the horse hasn’t won for a while its Kempton form in races under a mile reads 1,1,5,2,3,3. The horse is slightly high in the weights but has been beaten by some quality sprinters on its day and this looks a much easier contest than some of the races it’s contested here in the past. David Barron has a 25% strike rate with his horses in the past two weeks and I’m hoping another victory can go to Barron’s team.
This looks almost impossible so without beating around the bush, El Beau is handed a tentative vote. Progressive last term on both the level and over hurdles he made a satisfactory return when beaten Teo Vivo at Musselburgh ( Just over 7 Lengths ) Trainer John Quinn is operating off a 22% strike rate for the year and his charge should strip fitter today, if so he has every chance of reversing that aforementioned form and is fancied to. Venue looks exposed but his yard are firing and he is respected greatly at bigger odds, a comment that also applies to the top weighted Vendor. Heath Hunter also has claims but looks in need of things to drop perfectly and though Clyne is up 13lbs for routing a field the last day that performance was impressive enough and he too warrants respect. The rest are as easy to fancy as each other and have claims if on song though perhaps Apterix is the most interesting given he likes this ground and was a winner last time.
El Beau (E/W)