Storm Christoph has played havoc with people all around the country and horse racing has not escaped with several meetings having been abandoned. Haydock is the Saturday meeting under most danger of falling foul of the weather but there is hope that it will go ahead and play a part in what is shaping up to be a very good collection of races being shown live on ITV.
The combination of quality, prestige and variety of racing on Saturday combine for what should be an engrossing watch. There are some very good prices around so it could be a highly profitable day of racing as well. To help you take advantage, we’ve sifted through the eight live races and selected our best ITV Racing tips below.
1:15 Matchbook Betting Podcast Mares’ Hurdle
Grade 2, 2m7½f
Registered as The Warfield Hurdle, this long-distance hurdle should provide a fascinating start to the ITV Racing coverage. That’s even though only five runners have been confirmed. Magic Of Light, the winner of the last two renewals of this Grade 2, returns to try and complete the hat-trick which is exactly what she did last time out in a Listed chase last time out at Newbury. She wasn’t pushed particularly hard by either of her opponents that day though and the bookies have her as only the second favourite with Roksana a 4/5 shot.
Part of the reason why this race should be such an interesting watch is that the two main protagonists have completely different styles. Magic Of Light likes to get out in front and set the pace whereas Roksana is most comfortable when held up at the rear of the field where she and her jockey Harry Skelton can watch the race unfold before utilising her stamina to finish strongly. She executed those well-rehearsed tactics perfectly to land the Grade 2 bet365 Hurdle in her first run of the season before a highly credible third-place finish behind Paisley Park and Thyme Hill in the Long Walk Hurdle and she should secure another win at Ascot.
1:30 Sky Bet Supreme Trial Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle
Grade 2, 1m7½f
As the name suggests, this the Rossington Main Hurdle is a big trial race for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Only two of the last 14 winners of this race went on to win the opening contest at Cheltenham and it’s unlikely that trend will be improved this year. The main reason for that is that the going at Haydock will be very heavy given all the rain that’s fallen in the North West this week so punters need to be supporting a horse who can cope with the conditions rather than one who has the out and out class to win the Supreme.
Nada To Prada has certainly shown that she can cope with the Haydock mud. The second of her two wins this season came at the Merseyside track and she is well priced to follow up with another win at odds of 9/2. Concerns about the drop back down in trip are negated by just how difficult underfoot conditions will be and the progressive six year old is a real danger to the horses above her in the betting: Llandinabo Lad, Minella Drama and Faivoir.
1:50 Matchbook Better Way To Bet Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle
Grade 3, 2m3½f
The variety of the Saturday card at Ascot is a real treat for racing fans. The Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle is a very different type of race to the Grade 2 mares’ event that precedes it with almost all of the 12 horses in the field having a genuine chance of winning. The bookies make Danny Kirwan and Lightly Squeeze the two most likely winners but such is the competitiveness of this race that it could well be worth plumping for an each way option at something bigger than the 9/2 odds available on the top two in the market.
Arrivederci is perhaps the most appealing at the prices with 7/1 tempting enough for either an each way or straight win bet for those who fancy the six year old’s chances. Jonjo O’Neill’s horses are running well at the moment and Arrivederci performed better than his 11th place finish in a handicap hurdle run over four furlongs shorter last time out suggests. He will relish the step up in trip and won’t have any problems with the soft ground so 7/1 could prove to be a very generous price.
2:10 Weatherbys Portman Cup Chase
Class 2, 3m4½f
Taunton is a fairly tight course which does not play to the strengths of every horse. Certainly, few of the seven horses in the field for the Portman Cup will be seen to best effect at Taunton which hands a serious advantage to last year’s winner, Yala Enki. Paul Nicholls’ 11 year old has already made three appearances this season with mixed results. Good finishes of second and third sandwich a fall at Aintree but connections are hopeful that his extra confidence at Taunton will make all the difference and that the bookies are right to make him the 5/6 favourite.
2:40 Peter Marsh Handicap Chase
Grade 2, 3m1½f
Although the weather has had a major impact on racing over the last few weeks, racing fans have been treated to some excellent meetings and some very eye-catching performances. Few horses will have been added to as many trackers since Christmas as Royale Pagaille who proved to be way ahead of the handicapper on his chasing debut in that sphere last time out at Kempton. Venetia Williams’ seven year old won in the style of a horse who can go on to win in Graded company and he gets the chance to do that in the Peter Marsh Handicap. The bookies certainly didn’t miss Royale Pagaille’s Kempton performance. Indeed, they predicted that win by making him favourite that day and he’s been cast in that role again at Haydock.
Given that Royale Pagaille has been raised an eye-watering 16 pounds, might his price of 2/1 be a little short? There are more attractively priced horses in the running including Lamanver Pippin who is available at a best price of 8/1. Few, if any horses in the field are as well-suited to a slog over 3m1½f around Haydock as Colin Tizzard’s eight year old who can take advantage of an attractive mark to land at least a place.
3:00 bet365 Handicap Chase
Class 2, 2m5f
The bet365 Handicap Chase provides punters with another very competitive contest to try and work out at Ascot. Few of the 14 runners are priced as though they have no hope of winning and previous renewals suggest that winners are just as likely from the middle of the betting market as the top. The Skeltons will be hoping that the undoubted class of Bennys King will see him through and the top-weighted horse is the bookies’ favourite. It’s just hard to get excited about the 9/2 generally available about the 10 year old’s chances.
Something similar can be said about the second and third rated horses respectively, Capeland (13/2) and Dashel Drasher (6/1). Windsor Avenue looks a better option at 15/2. He has form going right-handed for Brian Ellison, will be well suited to this slight drop down in trip and won’t have problems with the soft ground so 15/2 looks a very good price.
3:15 The New One Unibet Hurdle
Grade 2, 1m7½f
The New One was a hugely popular racehorse in Haydock. That popularity came largely from his four straight wins in the Champion Hurdle Trial which was renamed in his honour in 2019. This year’s renewal will be particularly poignant after his death in October and it could also be particularly illuminating ahead of the Champion Hurdle as Buveur D’Air makes his return after over one year away from the track.
The quality of Buveur D’Air’s opposition is not matched by their number. Ballyandy and Navajo Pass will take some beating but they’re all that stand between Nicky Henderson’s 10 year old and a winning return. The best price you’ll get on the favourite is 1/2 but that’s probably fair as he bids to get his career back on track and prepare himself for another crack at the Champion Hurdle.
3:35 Matchbook Betting Exchange Clarence House Chase
Grade 1, 2m1f
Many punters have already opened their ante-post positions for the Cheltenham Festival. Those who have backed Politologue to make a successful defence of the Champion Chase – and there are many such punters – will be hopeful of another big run from Paul Nicholls’ 10 year old in the Clarence House Chase.
Politologue is the 11/8 favourite for this race, just as he was when winning the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown last month. At the time, Nicholls wasn’t entirely convinced as to whether the popular grey would be best served by having a crack at the Clarence House or going straight to Cheltenham. He’s come down on the side of giving him a challenging run against the likes of King George runner up Waiting Patiently and the supremely talented but frustrating Defi Du Seuil.
If the race goes to form, Politologue will win but it could turn into a real test for him. There are dangers even further down the betting with Fanion D’Estruval particularly appealing from an each way perspective at odds of 16/1 but we do have the right favourite for what should be another cracking race.