Friday, January 22, 2021

The 2021 running of the Peter Marsh Chase

Earlier this week 93mm of rain fell on Haydock Park; most of us expected the worst yet when clerk of the course Kirkland Tellwright walked the track on Thursday morning he indicated 'we are fit to race', something he went on to describe as 'a minor miracle'.

Frost now appears the main threat; a precautionary inspection has been called at 8.00 am.

10 have been declared for the Peter Marsh Chase (2.40); unsurprisingly the going is described as heavy.

An analysis I've read of Royale Pagaille's victory at Kempton over Christmas talks of  'a performance of some note' indicating the horse 'won't look out of place in Graded company'.

It's no surprise therefore to see Venetia Williams' charge priced up favourite but the gelding has been raised 16 pounds for that effort and now sits on a mark of 156. There's Gold Cup talk in the background as well, with layers quoting odds of 50/1 for the Cheltenham showpiece in March.

So I still haven't quite worked out why regular pilot Charlie Deutsch has decided to go to Ascot to ride Espoir De Guye (3.00) and Fanion D'Estruval (3.35). Did Charlie, like the rest of us, expect Haydock to be abandoned? Or does he prefer his chances at Ascot?

Granted, carrying top weight on heavy ground is never an easy task - the last horse to carry 11-10 to victory in this race was Cloudy Lane in 2009 - and at times the jumping at Kempton looked sticky and a cause for some concern. 

Bristol De Mai won the 2017 renewal at the age of six (off a mark of 154) but the last seven-year-old to come home in front was Scotton Banks in 1996.

I tend to go for one with a bit of experience over the fences in this and I note a number in this field look decidedly short on that particular kind of experience - Acey Milan has just three chase starts to his name, Sam Brown four (and also races beyond three miles for the first time), Lamanver Pippin five, and Sam's Adventure eight.

Sam's Adventure has creditable claims on the back of his win over course and distance in the Tommy Whittle five weeks ago. Brian Ellison's charge jumped well that day and at is now rated six pounds higher at 139.

It's also worth noting that in this limited handicap the bottom five runners all carry more than their long handicap weight; course and distance winner Potters Legend isn't lightly dismissed while Claud And Goldie finished fourth in last year's renewal and looks to have been trained specifically for this.

Crievehill won over this course and distance in November 2019 but hasn't been in the same form since; he didn't jump well in Royale Pagaille's race at Kempton last time and was beaten 36 lengths.

In a Straight from the Stable article in the Weekender [25-29.11.20] handler Charlie Longsdon says of Just Your Type:

"He is a big and slow chaser, but despite his physique he does not appreciate the ground too soft."

This one went well enough on soft ground in the Scottish Borders National at Kelso the following week but started to struggle around the three and a half mile mark and was eventually pulled up; connections fit blinkers for the first time.

I'm going to take an each-way interest in the Smooth Stepper, not so much as a hat tip to my own idiosyncratic prowess displayed on various dancefloors of the north west's discotheque circuit during the early1980s, but more in recognition of the favour the beast did me at Kelso the best part of three years ago.

I missed him (at odds of 33/1) when he stayed on to beat Lord Du Mensil in the Grand National Trial here last year and he was well beaten behind Vieux Lion Rouge in the Becher at Aintree last month.

The handicapper has relented and dropped him two pounds for that latest effort; he goes off 140 tomorrow, having won the Grand National Trial off 136, and Alex Hales has his string in good form.

All that said, the Stepper is no spring chicken - Our Vic won the 2010 renewal aged 12 - and the worry is he'll struggle to keep tabs on younger, better-fancied runners and get behind. 

I'm hoping the heavy, heavy ground will slow down the speedier sorts, allowing his stamina to come into play... 

Smooth Stepper is the each-way selection. Earlier today I saw 16/1 on offer but that price has disappeared; at the time of writing both William Hill and Sky Bet quote 11/1 and pay one fifth the odds four places.  


Anonymous said...

Peter Marsh Handicap Chase

183,SAM BROWN(GB),19

Bad news the system has also highlighted the chance of Smooth Stepper and I've done the same bet....

I was renowned for my discotheque efforts....well more accurately that I danced exactly the same no matter what record was playing!

Good luck!


GeeDee said...

Thanks for providing your ratings, TW.

Will we be dancing at around 2.50 tomorrow afternoon?

Mulldog said...

Great minds! Tipped and backed already

GeeDee said...

Good luck, Mully!

GeeDee said...

Eight went to post (Claud and Goldie and Sam Brown non-runners) but it quickly became apparent there would be no need to unearth the ersatz dancing shoes...

Put simply, selection Smooth Stepper (9/1) found it difficult to step up, the principals racing at least a step and a half quicker than he was comfortable with on the heavy, heavy ground. At the rear of affairs for much of the trip, he made a bad mistake five out (where Acey Milan fell independently) and had lost the private battle for fourth with Crievehill (14/1) before three out. He came home a weary fifth, some 70 lengths behind impressive winner Royal Pagaille (11/5f).

Raised a chunky 16 pounds since Kempton, Venetia Williams' charge tracked the leaders before moving effortlessly to take up the running in the home straight. He beat Potters Legend (8/1) some 16 lengths with Just Your Type (18/1) a further seven lengths adrift in third.

Tom Scudamore had barely had chance to weigh in before Gold Cup talk broke out - the gelding is quoted a 10/1 chance this evening. Speaking from Ascot, Venetia indicated connections would wait to see how the handicapper rated this particular walk in the (Haydock) park before making a decision on the target at the Festival.

The horse is quoted 8/1 for the RSA but is in the same ownership (Mrs S. Ricci) as current 2/1 favourite Monkfish; he has been priced up joint 5/1 favourite with Galvin for the National Hunt Chase (last race on the card on the Tuesday).

Finally, this evening, spare a thought for Charlie Deutsch...