SATURDAY SIZZLER: HAYDOCK HANDICAP PREVIEW FROM PHILIP ‘SNOWY’ GRIFFITHS
Sam Darby here. You’ll have noticed a lack of blogs from me recently and that’s because the quality of the flat racing has deteriorated and more recently disappeared (as it does at this time of year).
The good news is that I ended my flat blog series on a winner (Hafeet Alain at York) at a decent price and I’ll be returning next flat season if Josh will have me :).
In the meantime, I’d like to hand you over to my SureWin tipping colleague Philip ‘Snowy’ Griffiths for the winter. He’s a national hunt specialist and he’ll be able to point you in the direction of loads of winners before the Spring comes around.
Huntingdon is, I suppose, a minor meeting and there are too few runners in all bar the 3:15 at Ascot, that 8 runner Handicap Chase could be interesting for e/w punters, but the options are much better for e/w backers at HAYDOCK.
There are 3 Handicaps with 10 or more runners and the feature has the biggest field anywhere in the UK. So it makes sense to look at the £150,000 feature, which is the Betfair sponsored Stayers 3m Handicap Hurdle at 2:20. As recent results in the last 10 years would tell you, it’s not an easy contest to predict though.
No Favourite has won this in the last 10 years, the winners price has ranged from 4/1 through to 16/1 (x2). The winners age has also varied, 4 were aged 5yo, 3 aged at 6 and 1 each at 7, 8 and 9. All 16 runners this year fit in!
The lowest weight carried is 10st7lb, the highest was 11st12lb, but it was Paisley Park who proved to be graded and top class in 2018. Are there any potential graded horses among the 16 runners this year?
Every winner had a previous outing that season, apart from Baradari in 2015 (never raced again), so it could pay to back something with a run already this season, which could potentially rule 4 horses out from your thoughts today. Fine Margin (213 days off) makes his debut for Willie Mullins, being with him he could excused, Howlingmadmurdock (225 days), Sholokjack (225 days) and Gowel Road (392) have all got a fair record when they are fresh, but this will be their toughest asks on debut.
It takes a class horse to win with a big weight, so Bold Endeavour’s (12st) task is quite tough, but he could still prove to be a graded performer and he could well get the run of the race. He is a habitual front runner, which depending on how quick he or they go, could well prove beneficial to his chance, the front might be the best place to be on what might be quite a dead/tacky surface, those held might get caught out and could find trouble getting a clear passage through as well.
Carbon King is a potential front runner, he had good form when racing in Ireland, but hasn’t done much yet in the UK (ran 2), if he reverts to forceful tactics which were employed back in Ireland, he could outrun his huge odds (66/1).
Those near the top of the weights are Wakool, Howlingmadmurdock and Gowel Road (all carry 11st11lb), Crambo has 11st10lb, the latter has only had 8 races and is still improving, it would be foolish to rule him out today.
The in-form horses are Crambo (11/4) and Slate Lane (7/2). The latter travels over from Ireland, but no Irish raider has won this since it was first run back in 2005 (not sure how many have tried mind). He takes a step up in class and has 14lb more than when winning at Newton Abbot last time, but it’s hard to know how much improvement could be within him, the Emmet Mullins 5yo could be anything still.
Goshhowposh was quite green when winning a much weaker race at Exeter last time, but he is very lightly raced and very much unexposed and has the potential to improve a great deal, his jumping wasn’t great last time, he needs to be far more fluent and slicker to take this.
Emitom is an interesting runner, he was quite a useful sort a few years back, but lost his way for a while, he changed stables early this year (Feb, now with Alan King) and seems a happy sort once again. He has won and been 2nd for him and that 2nd was an encouraging start to this term, he has a reasonable enough e/w chance, but a few others make a little more appeal.
The pair I like are Dubrovnik Harry (10/1) and Lord Snootie (8/1). it might be a case of backing them both e/w.
Dubrovnik Harry was a promising novice in his first season and his form back then was pretty good, he wasn’t at his best in just 3 outings last season (1 over fences), but he showed plenty of encouragement on his first outing at Cheltenham 4 weeks ago (never nearer 4th of 20). He should come on for that outing and be more competitive today.
Lord Snootie is in just his 2nd season and there is surely better to come. This Irish Point winner showed promise in the early part of his first National Hunt campaign without winning, but got better and off the mark when stepped up to 3m at the end. His form was progressive at that point and included a fair effort at the Punchestown festival as well (5th of 25). After a break (184 days) he was sent back again to Ireland and ran a sound race last month at Galway, he would have finished a lot closer than 7th of 15 that day, had he not got hampered and almost unseated his rider 2 flights from home. He should improve greatly for that outing and makes plenty of appeal in this.
Today’s trip and ground should suit both of them, the long home straight should help them as well, the pace could be key to their chances, they have been held up in their races and wouldn’t want this to end up being a 4 furlong sprint. A decent chance to both though.
Philip ‘Snowy’ Griffiths
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Please note that these articles are written shortly after final declarations so any prices, whilst available at time of writing, are subject to plenty of fluctuation. There will hopefully always be value in the content and some of the shortlisted horses even if the main selection has shortened considerably.