Friday, January 17, 2020

Heavy going at Haydock

Heavy rain, heavy going and small fields. Any good news? Well, this year's Christmas cake (soft, heavy in places) has finally been finished off.

Flying Angel and Red Indian both hold entries in the bet365 Handicap Chase (Ascot 3.00) but the preferred engagement for both is the featured Peter Marsh Handicap Chase (Haydock 2.40) for which ten have been declared.

Race trends indicate more often than not this tends to go to an experienced sort; six in the field have less ten chase starts to their name - Acting Lass, Geronimo, Midnight Tune, Champers On Ice, Claud And Goldie and Red Indian - while Flying Angel has done most of his racing around the two mile five furlong mark.

With course form always at a premium here, the stats suggest the two to concentrate on are Definitly Red and Vintage Clouds.

Definitly Red is a class act on his day. Well beaten in the Charlie Hall on his seasonal debut, he made up a lot of ground at the business end of the race on his next run, finishing fourth behind Walk In The Mill in the Becher at Aintree. Carrying top weight in heavy ground is never easy but his chance is respected.

Vintage Clouds was pulled up in the Becher and then finished 20 lengths third behind Lord Du Mesnil in the Tommy Whittle; the handicapper has dropped him two pounds for that effort.

Owned by Trevor Hemmings, the horse boasts a good record here but he tends to finish in the places more often than winning. To my mind, in general terms, he hasn't jumped as well after he came a cropper at the first in the 2019 Grand National.

Trainer Sue Smith bids for her fifth win in the race -The Last Fling, 2000; Artic Jack, 2004; Cloudy Too, 2016; and Wakanda, 2019 - and it's fair to say Vintage Clouds looks a percentage each-way call but at 8/1 it's not really a wager that lights the fires so instead I'm going to take a punt on the back of a comment Nick Alexander has made in the Weekender.

Clan Legend won at Kelso last time out and goes in the Cheltenham Preview Here In March Handicap Chase at 3.45; the trainer says:

"He didn't get his ground last winter but I was very pleased with his win the other day. 

"He's gone up 4lb which was very fair, and I'd like to think he should improve for that run. I hope he can run a very big race wherever he goes next. He loves very soft ground..."

He has to carry top weight but is one of only two in the field with winning form at the track (Ubaltique the other).

A few in the field like to race prominently while others don't have an awful lot of chase experience - favourite Zizaneur has failed to complete on his last three starts, unseating Mr David Maxwell three out on his chase debut at Taunton 11 days ago.

I'm guessing Mr Alexander is leaving off the cheekpieces applied for the first time last time as Lucy will give Clan Legend a hold-up ride.

10/1 with several layers at the time of writing Clan Legend (3.45 Haydock) is the each-way suggestion.


Mulldog said...

I've still got some Christmas pudding left.

GeeDee said...

Good to hear from you, Mully. Trust you're keeping well.

Anonymous said...

I would just say that PG Tips has demolished most of the Christmas cake by himself! Admittedly, it was a bit soft in places, but never heavy. Extremely tasty nonetheless. Christmas 2020 he can make his own!!!! And still attempt to pick a winner once in a blue moon. Oh yes!!!

Sandracer said...

Clan Legend 10/1 at the traditionals still, trading on the exchanges up to 30/1. 27 atm. I was happy to get 20's. Yuge price says the orange man. The horse doesn't know though. Still gonna win.

GeeDee said...

Out to 20s with some traditionals now, Sandracer. Bit spooked to be honest but fingers still crossed and prepared to settle for a reasonable showing... In the meantime, I'm working on a list of viable excuses: top weight took its toll; should have kept the cheekpieces on etc. etc.


GeeDee said...

Clan Legend's price drifted out to 20/1 during morning exchanges; he was eventually sent off a 14/1 chance.

The selection raced more prominently than I'd anticipated but was outpaced off the home turn. The finish was fought out between Billingsley (5/2f) and Muratello (7/2); the former prevailed by threequarters of a length, making all to win despite a tendency to jump right on occasions. Clan Legend stayed on to take third spot, just over seven lengths behind the winner; after the race the vet reported the gelding had lost his right hind shoe.

Jumping well, Vintage Clouds (7/1) came home in splendid isolation to win the Peter Marsh.