Soft ground at Haydock but conditions are likely to be tacky with a dry warm day forecast in the northwest ahead of their card.
In the Gp 3 John Of Gaunt Stakes I am looking forward to the seasonal reappearance of With Thanks (3.30) who has won three of her five career starts – all on heavy ground – and looked an exciting prospect when landing a similar contest by 5L at Naas back in November. She picks up a 3lbs penalty for that fluent success but, if the ground does not dry out too much, she could make up into a Group 1 performer granted suitable underfoot conditions this term. The filly is 7/2 with 10Bet.
In the finale Elvrika makes her handicap debut having won a Thirsk maiden on her reappearance at the beginning of the month. That success was gained on fast ground, but the William Haggas trained filly ran well on soft ground as a juvenile. She could be well ahead of the handicapper, but I am convinced there are races to be won with Il Bandito (4.40) this term.
The Charlie Hills trained gelding – 4s with William Hill – was forced to cover ground from his wide draw at Epsom on his reappearance over a mile and gave the impression this return to an extended 7f would be ideal. He has a good draw in stall four and is likely to be ridden prominently by jockey William Buick who was also in the saddle on his seasonal debut.
At Chester I hope to see Buriram (3.50) make a winning reappearance for Ralph Beckett and Rob Hornby who has ridden two winners from seven rides since returning from injury. The selection – 13/2 with William Hill – has gone well fresh in the past and has a course record of 21 having scored from a 3lbs lower mark here over a slightly shorter trip here back in September.
The drying ground will suit Al Shibli (4.25) who finished third at Newbury on his debut when a well backed 7/4 market leader. Trainer Richard Hannon suggested his colt was unsuited by the good to soft ground which is a slight concern given conditions are likely to be similar on the Roodeye this afternoon. The four horses with the best form are drawn 1234 and it will be a surprise if the winner did not come out of this quartet. Sir Min looked ready for a step up in distance when a staying on fourth here over 5f earlier in the month.
Khezaana has been raised just 5lbs for a fluent Beverley success and that appears lenient, but he is drawn out in stall ten and my two against the field in the 10f handicap are recent Salisbury winner Military Mission and the maiden Remedium (5.00) who was mugged close home at Windsor last time and is taken to go one better under Jamie Spencer.
The selection – 9/2 with William Hill – cannot afford to get too far back from stall four – Military Mission likely to go forward from stall two – but, if his jockey can get into a decent position passing the winning post with a circuit to go, I hope to see him go one better than both starts so far this term.
Some cracking jumps racing on Sunday, and I hope to see Do Not Disturb (2.32) follow up his recent course win from a 6lbs higher mark. The selection looked a thorough stayer when jumping well and making most last time and today’s additional quarter mile should suit. I will be interested to see what the market says regarding Louis Vac Pouch as I made a note saying that he ran better than his finishing position would suggest at Fakenham last time.
At Uttoxeter Frisco Bay (4.32) made a satisfactory chase debut when third at Worcester from today’s mark having previously made all here over hurdles. He is entitled to come on for that effort and I hope to see Jonjo O’Neill make plenty of use of his mount. Christian William saddles a couple and Jack Tudor rides bottom weight Primal Focus. It is his other runner Gillygwyn Too that interests me given he is a winning pointer who makes his chase debut from what looks a workable mark.