News yesterday that Gold Cup runner up and Grand National favourite Minella Rocco (10/1 favourite with BetVictor) would miss Aintree and be trained next season with Cheltenham again his primary target. The news came as something of a shock given stamina is the horse’s forte but no seven-year-old has won the race since Bogscar in 1940 and connections must feel now is not the right time. As a result, Haydock Trial winner Vieux Lion Rouge is the new 10/1 favourite with Cause Of Causes (12/1 from 14s) and Blaklion (12s from 14s) cut following the news of the favourite’s defection.
A good card from Haydock to look forward to today and a cracking 2m 4f handicap chase with all five runners having finished first or second in their last start. There is plenty of pace in the race and the hope is that the inform mare Buttercup (3.10) can maintain her recent improvement for Venetia Williams and land her hat-trick.
The mare carries a 7lbs penalty for a facile win at Warwick last time and looks to have most to fear from Grove Silver who bounced back to form when making all at Carlisle last time from a 7lbs lower mark. The battle for the lead will be fascinating and the hope is that Liam Tredwell doesn’t get embroiled in a battle although the selection does like to race prominently.
Future Gilded is interesting reverting to hurdles having run well over the larger obstacles behind a subsequent winner at Warwick last time but marginal preference is for Robin Of Locksley (3.40) who carries a 7lbs penalty for a fluent success in a first-time hood also at Warwick ten days ago. Sammy B is chasing his hat-trick for Lucinda Russell but the handicapper has had his say and he is 10lbs higher than when winning at Kelso last time.
In the Veteran’s Chase I think Saroque bumped into a very well handicapped rival at Plumpton last time and he has bits of form that make him look very well treated off his current mark. That said I’m going to take a chance on Purcell’s Bridge (4.10) who was entitled to need his recent Carlisle run following a lengthy lay-off over a shorter trip last month. The selection is likely to be much sharper for that run and it is worth a check to see what the market says about his chances.
Johanos is likely to be all the rage for the finale after winning well at Carlisle last time but he may struggle to give 13lbs to Middlebrow (4.40) who should appreciate the step up in trip. The selection was a beaten favourite on his handicap debut when a close third at Wetherby back in January and I felt he hinted that a step up in trip would suit. A winner of a Bumper over 2m 1f in his native Ireland he represents the local yard of Donald McCain.
At Warwick Philip Hobbs introduces an interesting sort in the maiden hurdle Robbin’Hannon who cost his present connections £110,000 at the December Tattersalls Sales having won his sole point-to-point in his native Ireland. That success was gained on good ground, however, and he is out of a Presenting mare so he is not guaranteed to appreciate today’s forecast soft ground.
Oscars Boss (2.20) was a dual Bumper winner in Ireland and is on something of a retrieval mission having been well beaten at ¼ on his British debut at Plumpton at the end of January over the minimum trip. Today’s 2m 5f trip should suit and he gets the vote in an informative opener.
Water Wagtail looks ready for a step up to today’s 3m 5f trip having travelled well but failed to pick up at Wincanton last month off a 2lbs higher mark. The nod goes to the mare Emma Soda (4.50) who won this corresponding race in 2013 and 2015 and looks to have been laid out for this afternoon’s hat-trick bid.
There is a cracking all-weather card at Newcastle and in the valuable stayers’ event Good Run (3.30) can follow up his recent win for Godolphin from a 5lbs higher mark. The selection is lightly-raced and looked open to considerable improvement when coming with a sustained run down the middle of
the track – he has now won three of his five career starts and could potentially make up into a very decent stayer for his leading connections.
For all your racing needs check out BetVictor.com!