With Aintree’s Grand National meeting just around the corner we have a busy Saturday, jam packed full of good racing from Haydock, Carlisle, Newton Abbot and Fairyhouse. Haydock plays host to a series final day which should produce some competitive action, whilst a three-day meet kicks off at Fairyhouse, featuring an ultra-competitive two-mile handicap hurdle. Good Ball 9/4, Espoir De Teillee 9/2 and Leroy Leroy 11/1 were winners highlighted in last weekend’s previews and we also had places at 33/1 and 14/1. Hopefully, the good form continues, and we can seek out some to go well at nice prices.
Fingers crossed for an Emmpressive start
This Saturday Haydock plays host to a series final day and the Mares kick us off in a handicap hurdle over 2 miles and 3 furlongs. A competitive field of 15 go to post and the one that stands out to me is top weight Emmpressive Lady 5/1, who has had a fine season to date. Form figures of 4112 demonstrate her consistency but her performances have also been of real substance. Despite receiving just over a stone, she put up a very good performance to beat Whitehotchillifili on her penultimate start before being narrowly denied by Molly Ollys Wishes. The Skelton mare has gone on to beat Paul’s Saga and run a very respectable race against Mcfabulous and Brewin’upastorm. This represents some extremely strong form lines and as a result, Emmpressive Lady simply cannot be ignored.
Doitforthevillage can do it for the old boys
Next on the card at Haydock is the Betway Challenger Middle Distance Series Final Handicap Chase over 2 miles and 4 furlongs. The highly progressive Five Star Getaway is likely to go off favourite and there’s no doubt he could continue his progress after two impressive wins. I’ll take him on with a real legend of the game in the form of Doitforthevillage 14/1 who has shown enough this season to suggest he is still more than capable of being competitive off a mark of 123. His last 4 starts have yielded form figures of 1424 and interestingly connections dropped him into a hurdles race on his last start for the first time since November 2019, maybe looking to keep his chase mark protected for this. He should love the sounder surface underfoot and his trainer Paul Henderson has had 2 winners from his last 4 runners, so fingers crossed he has been primed for potentially one last hora!
Vision Du Puy can strike for Skelton in his hunt for the Champion Jockey Crown
The final race I will look from Haydock is the Betway Challenger Two Mile Hurdle Series Handicap Hurdle. I really like the chances of current favourite Vision Du Puy 9/4 who has some high-class back form. In November of 2019 she ran an extremely good race to finish third behind Lady Buttons and future Martin Pipe winner Indefatigable off very similar weights. She was subsequently given a mark of 134 but has seen that slip to 127 after some sub-standard efforts in defeat. She did however win her last start in cosy fashion, suggesting the engine is very much still there and the subsequent 5lb rise to a mark of 127 could look on the lenient side. The quicker ground conditions look sure to suit and still only a 6 year old, she is entitled to plenty of improvement.
Hobbs and Johnson can strike at Newton Abbot with dour stayer
The third last race on the card at Newton Abbot is a 3 mile and 2-furlong handicap hurdle. Former Champion Jockey, Richard Johnson and Phillip Hobbs team up here with Winter Getaway 11/4, who I believe will love every inch of the trip. Some of these come into this with some serious question marks but Winter Getaway comes into this on the back of a good second at Hereford 10 days ago. She stayed on strongly that day over a furlong less and will no doubt be doing her best work in the final furlong. The anticipated quicker ground will suit her well and she must have a big chance if reproducing her last effort.
Do Wanna Know worth chancing at Carlisle
Now its not often a horse with form figures of PFP5F grabs my attention but I believe Do Wanna Know 7/1 could offer punters some value, should he get round! In just his 8 starts under rules to date, he has failed to complete on 5 of them, having fallen three times and been pulled up twice. He did however make a winning start over hurdles beating, the likes of Hurricane Harvey (OR 141) and Killer Clown (OR 143) so he clearly possess a fair bit of ability. That novice hurdle win came on good ground and with the current going Good to Soft and no rain forecast, he should get close to those conditions here. Sent chasing this season, Do Wanna Know was pulled up on his first start before running a much better race to finish fifth. That form has been franked since with both the winner and third placed horse going on to win on their next start. Do Wanna Know was subject to some strong market support on his last start but took an unlucky fall at the third. Hopefully that fall hasn’t left its mark, as I believe he is more than capable of winning this off a mark of 114 taking into account Paul O’Brien’s 3lb claim.
Elimay is the play on a glorious first day at Fairyhouse
Fairyhouse plays host to a three-day meeting full of quality and the first race I am going to take a look at features two mares who ran stormers at the Cheltenham Festival. Elimay 4/6, runner up in the Mares Chase, and Mount Ida, winner of the Kim Muir, clash in the Listed Mares Chase over 2 miles and 5 furlongs. Abbey Magic, Demi Plie and Zarkereva complete the line-up. Just two pounds separate the top two mares on Official Ratings but due to the conditions of the race, Mount Ida will receive 6lbs, putting her better off at the weights. I do believe that the trip will play more to Elimay’s strengths and of the two I would be inclined to side with her. She was beaten just half a length by Colreevy at Cheltenham who had previously beaten Mount Ida by 12 lengths at an absolute canter. Elimays form with Allaho is arguably one of the strongest pieces of a form around this season and I can see her having too many gears for Mount Ida. Jack Kennedy gave his filly an absolute peach at Cheltenham but she did take a while to warm to the task, especially in the jumping department. The step down in trip may not play to her strengths and I can see her staying on for second. Elimay gets the vote.
Two against the field in tricky 3-mile handicap hurdle
Just over an hour later on the card, we have a competitive looking 3-mile handicap hurdle. Envoi Allen’s half-brother, Fighter Allen, represents the duo of Townend and Mullins whilst red hot claimer Jordan Gainford takes a valuable 7lbs off Denise Fosters Ragnor Lodbrok 14/1. He’s held his form to similar level throughout the season, but I believe a 3-mile handicap hurdle may bring out the best in him. I think a great deal of Gars De Sceaux who beat him last time out and would consider this a decent piece of form. Considering Jordan Gainfords claim, he finds himself better off at the weights with Darrens Hope and I would be disappointed if he doesn’t go well. I did also think On Eagles Wings 12/1 was an extremely interesting runner given he makes his handicap debut over 3 miles but won a Group 3 over 2 miles last time out! The way he has been running over shorter trips would suggest 3 miles may suit and this is a horse with some classy back form against the likes of Grand Paradis, Chemical Energy and none other than Ferny Hollow. Taking into account Mr Swan’s 7lbs claim, he runs off a mark of 130 here which I’m sure underestimates his ability. If he stays the trip, I think he is a big player.
Mark Walsh may have a trick or two up his sleeve in feature handicap of the day
Next up on the card at Fairyhouse we have a seriously competitive handicap hurdle over 2 miles. Jordon Gainford’s 7lb claim will no doubt make County Hurdle fourth, Eclair De Beaufeu, a popular pick but I believe it may be worth chancing his stable mate Magic Tricks 17/2. Second in a Point to Point behind the extremely smart Gars De Sceaux, Magic Tricks is also a full brother to Grade 1 winning hurdler Abacadabras. Officially rated 132, Magic Tricks has a far way to go to match the achievements of his brother, but I do believe he can be very competitive here. He clearly possesses a fair bit of ability but things haven’t gone to plan the last twice. Given his close relation to Abacadabras, there is reason to believe that this sounder surface and quickly run 2 miles will really suit. Having skipped numerous potential Cheltenham targets, this has likely been the target and I think he is worth chancing at around 17/2.
Letsbeclearaboutit its Party Central in the Fairyhouse Bumpers
Two good looking bumpers finish day one of the Easter meeting at Fairyhouse and I’m hoping the Dublin Racing Festival form comes to the fore. In the Mares Bumper Brooklynn Glory and Party Central 2/1 lock horns once again and I believe the latter will confirm the form. A runner up on her first start, Party Central took a big step forward to finish just a neck behind Grangee and around 7 lengths ahead of Brooklynn Glory. Grangee went on to finish a very respectable sixth in the Champion Bumper so the form looks strong, and Party Central looks a progressive filly.
The Champion Bumper form is also on the line in the last where Letsbeclearaboutit 7/4 sits top of the market. He was well beaten by Kilcruit at the Dublin Racing Festival but went far too fast that day and to his credit stuck to his task and stayed on for second, ahead of Whatdeawant, Chemical Energhy and Ramillies. I don’t believe he faces quite that calibre of rival here and given he doesn’t go too fast in the early parts of the race, should have a favourites chance of winning this.
By Sam Rideout
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