Rigadin De Beauchene 14/1 (paddy power) 1 point win*
*this is obviously an ante post bet. There is a chance, albeit small, that he doesnt turn up and we lose our money. That is your decision to make. I am unable to look at any racing Thurs-Sunday hence the earlier than usual post.
This is going to be a real slog and having checked the weather there looks to be some rain around Haydock leading up to Saturday. I hope so as the softer the better for the selection. Indeed if it isnt riding very soft/heavy side he may not run that well. I would be surprised if he is anywhere near 14/1 come race day but we shall see.
Firstly some trends:-
12/17 were 1st or 2nd last time out
0/17 winners as yet priced over 20/1
13/17 winners 7,8 or 9 yo. However an even spread based on number of runners, and infact 9 of last 10 have been aged 8+.
3/17, from only 9 runners, carried 11-12 to victory. Dont be put off by a big weight.
14/17 had ran over 3m5f+ previously. Caution as the 3 who hadnt come from a much smaller pool of runners. But, assured stamina is always a positive in my book in these races.
As yet no horse, from 47 runners, to have run over 4m4f has won this race…i believe that race to be The Grand National. I am not sure what the logic is here. Maybe those that have ran in the GN previously always just use this race as a stepping stone when targeting the race once more and therefore never get overly competitive. I wouldnt necessarily let this put you off a fancy.
Firstly I couldnt really put anyone off the favourite and top-weight, Benvolio (especially if the race cuts up into single figures, his ability to lead all the way being an advantage). I am simply not backing him as I dont like his price, 5/1. He could well be worth a saver as if he repeats his Welsh National run he must surely go close. The blinkers inspired him last time and if wearing them again he must be given a chance. The stats would suggest carrying top weight isnt an issue although whether the horse will handle it I dont know. He has yet to carry such a weight so it is a bit of an unknown. He will be up with the pace which I like and all in all he looks to have a solid chance for a trainer that won this many years ago and who we know likes to farm big races on a Saturday. But, he is a bit too short for me in a race like this.
The selection… Well this horse won this race last year and likes the course having also finished 2nd here. Clearly there are no problems with race conditions. I backed him last year, as a ‘saver’ annoyingly, but I think he has every chance of repeating the victory. I have a suspicion that he is the only horse in the race who will have been aimed at this race. This thinking would explain his PU at Warwick. Given the way he faded it could well be that he needed the run and he has come down the handicap by 5lbs which is no bad thing. This will be only his 4th run since his win in this last year and his two PUs that followed can be put down to the decent ground. He only ever really performs when it is a swamp. My slight concern is that it may not be soft enough but there appears to be plenty of rain about before the race (if we can trust the weather forecast!) and at 14/1 I am happy to take the chance. I expect him to be shorter than this on the day, in fact most of the other bookies have him at 10s already. Three PUs would suggest that maybe all is not well but he has won after being PU before and I think there are decent reasons for all of those performances. He also likes to track the pace and I think he will be in the perfect position to strike. There are a few front runners in here who could cut each others throats and he will be able to pick up the pieces. I think he will go very close or be pulled up, we shall see.
All in all,with his liking for the race conditions and this track, my suspicion that this has been the season’s target, his price and the negatives with the opposition (bar the fav) I couldnt resist backing him.
I have discussed Benvolio, what about the rest. Well Samstown only just won last time out and is progressing well enough over fences. I am not too sure as to the form of that race (it fell apart as those in front dropped away and pulled up) and the distance is a slight unknown. The way he finished suggests that he may not stay here. In these races i usually like backing horses with proven stamina. He also tends to be held up and I would worry that these better animals in front will not come back to him this time. If he does stay then he is entitled to be thereabouts( he has won over 27f but that was on better ground) He carried a light weight in that race too, something he doesnt get here. He just beat Benbens that day, who to my eye didnt stay the trip in the Welsh National. I think Benbens has his stamina to prove and for that reason I have left him alone. Also, if Benvolio performs as he did in the Welsh National I see no reason for Benbens to overturn that form.
Monbeg Dude is the interesting one as the race conditions should be ok (we know he stays) and he looks to be coming to the boil. However his target is the Grand National I believe and I can see no reason why connections would want to bottom him out in a slog round here. He was also a 19l 3rd in this race 2 years ago and I suspect it will be a prep run for the big one. However if he is here to win, even though he may prefer better ground, he will be thereabouts. Gas Line Boy pulled up in the Welsh National and although he has won over course and distance he had it all his own way that day. He enjoyed being out in front in splendid isolation but that wont be happening here. He also looks to prefer better ground. Not for me in this race. Trustan Times is interesting having placed in a Scottish National. That could well be the target again and all of his best form has been on better ground. His jumping can be suspect and he hasnt performed that well on his last two chase starts. Another crossed off my list.
Super Duty makes his second start for his new trainer. He hasnt been in great form and the biggest doubt is about his stamina. It is another guessing job as to whether he will stay in these conditions and I don’t like guessing in races such as this. Lie Forrit won a veterans chase last time and is clearly in good heart at the age of 11. Most of his chase wins have tended to come in single figure fields that he can dominate. He wont be able to do that here, even if a few runners come out. I cant see him getting an easy lead and there are also some slight doubts about his stamina in these conditions. The trainer has said that the Scottish National is the target and I cant see why they would push him too hard in this race. Broadway Buffalo has been held up in his last few runs which may not be a positive in this race with higher class animals who will keep galloping in front. He is young and unexposed,however with 9 of last 10 winners being 8 or older I am happy to take him on. He is another where you are guessing over the trip. He may improve for it, he may not, who knows.
I have a slight soft spot for Mountainous as I was on him at 20s when he won the Welsh National. You tend to remember those winners 🙂 However all of his form since then would suggest that win really took it out of him and he may be done for as a race horse. If Lee can get him back (a trainer with a poor 1/39 record at Haydock since 09) somewhere near his best he would have a chance in this. The ground is fine, he usually jumps well, and he stays. For me there are just a few too many doubts on his recent form and well-being. He usually performs best when returning to the track within 30 days as well. His odds maybe allow you to take the chance but I will have to leave him for this one and hope I dont regret it!
Alpha Victor has yet to demonstrate he has the ability to take on any of these horses. These extreme trips can bring about improvement you never expected or could envisage but it will have to for this horse, whose only chase win so far has come in a c4 Novice race. Ballyoliver looks for all money to be a c3 chaser at best. He is a reliable old yardstick but I would think there is something better in here. He would also look to like the ground a tad firmer. Glenquest ran a cracker in the Welsh National but looked like he didnt quite see out the trip, or went for home too soon. A big run isnt out of the question but I expect he will be outstayed again by something else. I cant see why he would overturn the form with Benvolio, if the fav runs his race. Loch Ba has too many questions to answer and I dont think is good enough at this level. He was a distant 3rd in this race last year and if the selection runs his race I can’t see why he would suddenly turn that form around. There is no evidence as yet that he stays this far and he has had a few tries.
Harry The Viking is most interesting if lining up. He is well handicapped as a result of not winning since December 2011! He is one who looks like the step up in trip will suit, having run well over a marathon trip at the Cheltenham Festival many moons ago. He may like better ground but he does catch the eye and I am interested to see how he runs. He hasnt proved he doesnt like the ground and I think he will stay, which cant be said about quite a few of these. However, although tempted for a small play at 25s, i am happy to leave him alone as I do want to see more, including a more recent win. He could just be a slow horse and not many improve for leaving Nicholls do they? (one of those throwaway comments I havent actually researched!)
So all in all I think we have a live one who has been aimed at this race. If on song we know he handles conditions and I expect a bold run. I hope it rains plenty and turns into a real slog. Also,as I am writing this on a Wednesday many of the horses above may not even run (plenty in lower half of card have no jocks booked yet) and i cant see the 14s lasting. If this is a single figure field that may enhance Benvolio’s chance even more as he could well see these off from the front. It promises to be an interesting race and I hope it is clear early on that Rigadin is on a going day, otherwise we wont have much to cheer for much of the race!