Harry The Viking – 1 pt EW – 8/1 (general) 2nd 11/1
Heavy ground at Haydock is usually hard work with runners strung out all over the North West. I don’t want to be guessing in this race as to whether the horse will stay and/or like the ground. There are only two horses to my eye who are guaranteed to stay and likely to run their race – the selection is one, Rigadin De Beauchene WON 4/1 is the other. In effect this boils down to price. RDB is short enough at 3/1. He may have gone off too fast LTO, given the way he tired, or he may now be a weak finisher. There are a couple of question marks over him but everything looks set for a bold run and he should not be too far away. But, 3s feels about right and not a price I want to lump in on.
Harry The Viking – 8/1 seems big to me – this feels like his race, it has to be his race. He doesn’t win very often but that is not through a lack of conviction I don’t think. To start with if he completes I can’t see him being out of the top 3, if this is as much of a slog as conditions suggest it could be. He stays further than this and should be there plugging away.
Earlier this year he chased home Lie Forrit twice in staying chases, which were much better quality than this, finishing within two lengths both times. Back at Kelso he then chased home The Last Samuri and got beat just over 2l, over 26f on decent ground. This season he has chased home the king of sloggers, Emperor’s Choice (a Welsh National winner) over CD, to finish 3rd, and ran well enough LTO over 25f – he gets outpaced over that trip. A repeat of the majority of those runs sees him go very very close here for me. He is well handicapped, and the trainer is 3/9, 5 places in the last month. I can’t work out exactly why he is this price, and indeed looks weak in the market.
Cyclop and Kingswell Theatre are progressive and unexposed. Both come here in good form having won recent races well. They are both up massively in the weights and there are questions as to what they have beat. They also have stamina to prove in this ground. Maybe it is asking too much for them both to fail here but this kind of race is tough for a young horse. There should be no hiding place and they will have to improve again – which given their profiles is possible. Of course they could improve for the trip as well. Listen Boy is also unexposed but is now 0/6, 1 place in C3, this being a C2 (although not as deep as some) so does have to step up. Stamina is an unknown. I am not convinced this kind of test is up Restless Harry’s street – a couple of niggles over this far, in this ground. The other two have plenty to do.
So, if this turns into a stern stamina test and a real slog, we are in with a decent chance here. In theory we should get a good run for our money and I would be disappointed were he not top 3 at worst.
Fine Parchment – 1 point EW (2 pts total) – 16/1 (general) 3rd (distant, non runners, 2 places. Damn)
I keep saying that I won’t back these old timers but I appear to keep doing it – but, we are getting what I think is a generous price about a horse who looks sure to give his running. His return at Sandown, in a decent veteran’s chase which is deeper than this race, was good. He led for a long way, jumped really well and went with enthusiasm for most of the way, before tiring turning for home. The ground may have been too heavy LTO and he may have bounced. He is the only horse in the race with form in all race conditions (ground, class,distance) and I think he will go well for a long way. The trainer is also in form and has done well at the track.
Kings Apollo WON 14/1>6/1 (R4) is interesting and I backed him last time out. He does have questions to answer though and is now 0/3, 0 places in C3 handicaps. He didn’t like being held up LTO and a return to leading may see an improved performance but he will need to improve here. Same Difference is 0/5, 0 places on soft/heavy in his career and comes here for a new trainer after a very long time off. Enough questions for a 7/2 shot albeit he has the class to win this well. Royalraide is unexposed, this being his second start over fences. He does have a liking for soft ground to prove and will need to step up. He is another that looks short enough to me. I am happy to take on the rest for one reason or another.
That is all for today. Write ups will be complete asap.
1.10 Taunt – Double Accord (12/1<) UP
Harry Fry has one for his mares micro angle- they are all last time out winners and she faces a Mullins raider WON – at Taunton!
2.50 – Jessbers Dream (10/1< guide) 2nd 8/1>5/1