Conditions are likely to be testing for today’s Haydock card after the rain which hit the track on Wednesday. In the opening 1m 6f handicap connections of Hawridge Flyer are obliged to run their 6-y-old given he will be 5lbs higher in the weights from tomorrow having bounced back to form when runner up at Newmarket a week ago.
Over 12f he would have been the selection but he has yet to win over 14f – form figures 8543 – and he is reluctantly overlooked even though he has often suggested the additional quarter of a mile – both career wins at 12f – would be within his compass.
Be Easy is blinkered for the first time and is bred to be better than his current mark, but he was disappointing at Chester last time and is overlooked in favour of Queen Of Camelot (2.10). The filly -13/2 with William Hill – was beaten 6l on her handicap debut over 12f when last seen at Hamilton back in June but is entitled to come on for the run – only her third career start – and there is plenty of stamina in her breeding.
There is a cracking 6f sprint handicap and Danzan (3.20) has finished runner up in his last couple of starts and deserves to get his head back in front. The selection -6s with Unibet – was forced to cover ground from his wide draw when runner up at Chester last time and a 1lb rise looks fair.
Highwaygrey was beaten by the draw at Chester last time and he still looks ahead of the handicapper despite being raised another 1lb for that close fourth on the Roodeye. Tim Easterby’s four-year-old has run well on good to soft ground, but he has been below par on soft or heavy ground in the past. Kaser has been raised a stone for his fluent success here last time – 17lbs if you include jockey’s allowance – and that will certainly make things much harder for David Loughnane’s gelding.
Keith Dalgleish fits Dark Lochnagar (5.25) with blinkers for the first time and the selection cannot have the ground too soft. At his best when allowed an uncontested lead – there are few if any confirmed frontrunners in the field – I hope Shane Gray can get the 4-y-old – 6s from 10s with bet365 – into a prominent position from the off and repel all challengers from the front.
At Sedgefield Swaffham Bullbeck will be a warm order to follow up his recent C&D success under a 7lbs penalty which leaves him 4lbs “well in” given the handicapper has seen fit to raise him 11lbs for what was a visually impressive performance. This is a much hotter race, however, and I thought Ingleby Hollow (6.30) looked sure to play a part in the finish when blundering two out at Market Rasen last time. The selection -9/2 with 10bet – has a course and distance record of 113 and Bryan Carver takes off a valuable 5lbs.
Alexander The Grey (7.00) can front run but was tucked in behind the leaders and still going well when coming down two out over C&D last week. The selection -5/2 with bet365 – is not the heartiest of battlers and has only one career win to his name, but Lily Pinchin can often get a good tune out of the grey and, at his best, he is a bold jumping front-runner.
Al Salt (4.15) is bred to be effective over 10f+ but his two wins have been over a mile and he gave the impression a return to a stiff mile would suit when third at Goodwood last time. He can return to winning ways in the 0-90 Classified event at Ascot. He is currently rated 89 and has the potential to rate higher going forward. The recommendation is 15/8 at William Hill.
I would like to see Intrepid Italian (5.20) step up to 7f soon but this stiff track should suit, and he can land the 6f sprint for Richard Hannon. The selection is drawn in the middle of this 20-runner field and the hope is that they don’t split into two groups but decide to race down the middle. The 3-year-old – 8s at bet365 – has yet to win on turf, but his latest second at Chepstow gave clear evidence that he is as equally effective on turf as he is on a synthetic surface.