The whole country is going to continue to be battered by wind and rain on Friday into Saturday, and Haydock’s meeting could be lucky to survive after another 13mm on Thursday.
It is forecast to rain there all day on Friday during racing and it is going to be incredibly deep on the round course if, fingers crossed, it beats the weather.
Anyway, at least we know we can safely proceed on basis of heavy going and that will be music to the ears of the connections of Cold Stare (though he is entered at Goodwood on Friday), Molls Memory, Lincoln Park, Lord Oberon and Ffion, as they all have proven form in ground that deep, in the 7f handicap at 13:55.
I like two in the race, and will dutch the pair.
Everything in place for a big run
It will come as no surprise to regular readers that one of those is Tom Collins, and the other is Molls Memory.
The latter is two from two on heavy ground and she has slipped down to the same mark as for the most recent of those wins, when grinding out a 1 ¼-length success at Newbury last October,
And the beauty of her chance here is that she has been coming down the weights on the back of decent runs on better ground, most recently when staying-on from off the pace to finish fifth at York last week.
She has good course form, as she was just touched off by a short-head over 7f in the soft here in 2019 (off just a 1lb lower mark than this), and everything is in place for a big run. The quick turnaround is a worry, as all her previous races have been spaced out, but at least the kitchen sink wasn’t thrown at her at York.
In fact, she is my number one bet in the race at 15/2 each-way, four places with the Sportsbook – they initially went 10/1 – but I must have Tom Collins on side too, as I think he has the potential to leave his current mark well behind him.
Tom has a cracking chance on Tom
I have written more about this horse than any other this season, having tipped him in the Thirsk Hunt Cup (disappointing from a wide draw) and at York last week (a non-runner from the widest draw of all in 20) and I discussed his chances at length in my ante-post column on Tuesday before deciding to hang fire on tipping him at 10/1.
He is a shorter price now but he is a guaranteed runner in a field that has been reduced from 23 to 13 from the five-day stage, so I am happy to save on him at 8.07/1 or bigger, win-only on the exchange. He’s be a bet at 6/1+.
He may not have got lucky once again with the draw as he is 13 from 13, but I will leave that job to Tom Marquand to navigate, and at least he has a decent pace to aim at in here with three forward-goers.
He does have form on quick ground but perhaps it was a touch too rapid for him at Thirsk, and his best effort for David Elsworth came on soft at Pontefract when he beat three subsequent winners.
And his breeding suggests he will love the mud again here, as his dam, the Group 2-winning Cocktail Queen, loved it.
Off a 5lb higher mark than at Ponty, I reckon he has a lot of upside on his second start for William Haggas, who also tries the horse in first-time cheekpieces, presumably to help him travel more kindly than he did at Thirsk.
Be aware, there is likely to be a Rule 4 if Cold Stare runs in the 13:40 at Goodwood on Friday.
Wob not dismissed lightly
With 10 ITV races to get through, I will have to fly through the races I am not recommending a bet in, and that includes the 2m handicap at 14:25.
As expected, I have already done my money in this race with Solo Saxophone a non-runner – money back if the meeting gets abandoned, mind you – and I went round and round in circles trying to eke out a fresh bet. Then gave up.
Basically, I can make a case for too many, so I will pass. Hiroshima and Speedo Boy interested me most but the ground is a potential issue for both, I guess – in the mind of connections, at least – even though I suspect they will be fine on it.
I could regret not pressing up with Wobwobwob in the 15:00, as he did us a favour at York.
He was undeniably impressive in winning there over 7f on good to soft but he is 8lb higher here in what I suspect is a much stronger handicap, and I am not entirely convinced 1m in heavy ground is what he wants either. Plus there will be plenty of the competition for the lead here.
It is a race I am keen to play in though, as I think Raadobarg makes the market, as this sexy improver was always going to be defensively priced up. And he has been.
Back Abraham to hit the Heights
Heights Of Abraham may well be an awkward bugger but gets my vote at 13/2 win-only with the Sportsbook. He’s be a bet at 11/2+.
Call me harsh, but his head carriage leads me to believe he may not be the most straightforward and I suspect he has a shocker or two in him down the line, but hopefully it isn’t here as I think the set-up of this race could be perfect for him.
There are five in here that may go forward and make it a test of stamina over a mile, and that will suit Sunday’s 1m2f Ripon winner ideally.
He carries a 6lb penalty for that 6 ½-length win on soft ground but he will go up more than that, even though that was a weakish race, and I can just see him grinding this out once his overdriive kicks in (he didn’t travel early doors at Ripon) up the Haydock straight.
He clearly handles soft ground and his dam won on heavy, so conditions here shouldn’t be an issue – indeed, Timeform called two of his wins as coming on heavy (including Ripon) – and perhaps his awkwardness is more a case of him being a lightly-raced 3yo finding his racing feet rather one having rogue tendencies.
A big run expected from Lady
Nothing doing for me in the 6f Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes at 15:35 – Light Refrain and Isabella Giles are my two against the field for what it is worth – but Lady In France is a bet at 13/2 with he Sportsbook in the 5f Temple Stakes at 16:10,.
The stand-out 9/1 predictably went on Friday morning, but she is a bet at 6/1+ for me.
I am not in the least surprised that ante-post favourite Lazuli hasn’t turned up in these conditions and nor am I shocked that Karl Burke is turning out Lady in France so quickly after her modest run over 6f at York last week, a race in which she was beaten no less than 17 lengths behind Starman.
I am more than happy to ignore that run.
Basically, this horse is an up-with-the-pace 5f speedster and she was never likely to be seen to best effect proving too keen when held up over 6f at York.
She beat Keep Busy over 5f at York last season, has good course form on heavy, and apparently her trainer wasn’t too chuffed with the ride she got when a staying-on fourth in the Abbaye after being held up, when beaten just 1 ½ lengths.
I expect a different ride and a bolder showing here, though Danny Tudhope may have to be content to take a lead from Que Amoro and Jabbarockie and pounce from the furlong pole, as she has done in her three victories to date (which also include a defeat of Que Amoro at Ayr in 2019).
If the York run hasn’t taken too much out of her, I think she is going to run a big, big race.
Sitting pretty with Tuesday’s ante-post bets
I am happy to give the two ITV races from York a swerve.
The 1m5f188yd Listed fillies’ stakes at 14:40 looks none too appealing – the early 9/2 about Mighty Blue in the market was very big obviously, though I guess Makawee is fair at 5/1+ at the current prices – and life is so much less stressful since I have decided to bet and tip in 5f sprint handicaps far more selectively.
The regulars all turn up again in the 15:50 and I suppose Count D’Orsay is a fair price at 10/1+ if you are willing to forgive him a lack-lustre run behind Copper Knight here last week, but the words clutching and straws spring to mind.
We may have done our ante-post money on Solo Saxophone at Haydock but we are sitting on two good positions with Hyanna at 20/1 and Just In Time at 16/1 in the 1m6f handicap at 13:40.
The case for both obviously hasn’t changed since Tuesday, if their prices have (they are now around 7/1 on the exchange), as they are both fairly-handicapped horses, proven in testing conditions and with excellent course form, and who should show the benefit of their recent outings.
However, there clearly is no need to go in again at the current odds, and in truth the value has disappeared, for all this race has cut up badly from 21 entries at the five-day stage.
I am a little worried the in-form course winner Hochfield could get an easy lead here, and I’d probably fear him more than the favourite Prince Alex for that reason, but I’ll sit tight and see how the ante-positions play out.
I can’t see much of a betting angle into the five-runner 1m2f Listed race at 14:10 though Stormy Antarctic probably appeals most at around 3/1.
Ground perfect for Van Gogh in Irish 2000
The ITV action also incorporates the Irish 2000 at 15:20, and the going at the Curragh promises to be heavy, and then some, on Saturday should it get the go-ahead.
And that leads me towards Van Gogh and MacSwiney, and certainly away from Lucky Vega at the top of the market.
The betting told you MacSwiney would need it in the Derrinstown over 1m2f first time up and it also transpired he came back with a “copious nasal discharge” after finishing fourth there, and you can make a fair case for him, coming back to 1m in deep ground, conditions that he had when winning the Vertem Futurity.
I’ll probably back both in truth, but for the purposes of this column I am going to side solely with Van Gogh at 13/2 each-way, four places, with the Betfair Sportsbook. He’d be a bet at 5s and upwards for me with the extra place.
He was 9/1 on Thursday but his price was only going to head one way given the ground is already heavy, with more rain forecast and an inspection called for 7.30am on Saturday.
He did best of the Ballydoyle colts when eighth in the 2000 Guineas and I thought it was a very satisfactory first effort considering than a mile on quick ground was certainly not his premier bag.
Deeper ground here is, as evidenced by his Autumn Stakes second (may well have won had the cards fallen differently for him) and his Group 1 win on heavy in France, and he is a horse that I continue to have a lot of time for.
In a race in which a fair few have question marks against them, he will do for me.