Conditions were described as good at Haydock on Thursday morning and a dry day is forecast this afternoon, but there was significant rain due yesterday afternoon/evening, and the ground may well be on the easy side of good.
2.05 Haydock - Croupier (Each Way)
Moon Watch has been a beaten odds-on favourite since making a winning debut at Nottingham back in June. Those defeats were on an artificial surface, and he may well appreciate the return to turf.
Luke Morris suggested that the idea was for CROUPIER (EW) to go forward at Windsor in the Racing League last time, but he missed the break and, in the circumstances, did well to win by a head. The handicapper has only seen fit to raise this gelded son of Invincible Spirit by just a pound and the forecast rain is considered a plus.
The each way recommendation does not have the best of draws in stall ten but, if the rain arrived on Thursday, then they may come up the centre/stands’ side of the track.
2.40 Haydock - Speycaster
Sea King has been off two months since looking as if he needed a return to further when fourth at Newcastle over 12f last time in a race that is working out very well. I remain convinced there is more to come from Sir Mark Prescott’s 3-y-old, but he had previously finished over 2L behind SPEYCASTER over C&D and is only 1lb better off at the weights.
The selection stumbled at the start in that valuable handicap and went into the first turn at the back of the field. He ran an excellent race in the circumstances to finish fourth in a race that is working out very well with the second Giovelletto finishing third in the St Leger earlier in the month when he would have finished second had Frankie Dettori kept a straight line on the errant Haskoy who was, correctly, demoted to fourth.
Double Cherry also enters calculations on that Haydock, but Speycaster gets the vote for the Ralph Beckett yard who won the corresponding race two years ago.
4.55 Haydock - Cumulonimbus (Nap)
The beautifully bred Electress won on her first start for Archie Watson at Brighton earlier in the month and the runner up has subsequently franked the form going one better – albeit on polytrack.
That success was gained on good ground from a 3lbs lower mark. Her pedigree suggests soft ground may be a concern, but she did run a very good race at Goodwood last autumn on soft ground – her best juvenile performance.
The vote, however, goes to market leader CUMULONIMBUS (Nap) who appreciated the change in tactics when making all at Yarmouth last time under Hollie Doyle. He has always been well regarded by connections and a 6lbs penalty may not prevent him following up last week’s fluent success.
5.20 Newmarket - Stormy Ocean
The Newmarket card looks informative and fascinating, but my sole recommendation comes in the finale. I was a big fan of STORMY OCEAN back in the spring and he has been off the track since disappointing on his handicap debut at Wolverhampton back in March.
He has been gelded in the interim period by Charlie Appleby and is not exactly thrown in off a 2lbs higher mark than last time, but he has only had four career starts and has a good record fresh.
2.15 Listowel - Flaming Moon (Each Way)
Gavin Cromwell claims 5lbs off My Mate Mozzie which helps but he is becoming increasingly frustrating over both codes. One of these days it will all fall right for him given he is, at least in my eyes, a Grade 1 winning novice hurdler running off a mark of 135 if you included Kieren Buckley’s claim.
My two against the field, however, are the progressive Dads Lad and FLAMING MOON (EW) and the latter gets the each way vote despite turning out just two days after finishing runner up in a decent novice behind Amir Kabir here earlier in the week.
The selection was no match for the impressive Amir Kabir on Wednesday but can carry just 10st 5lbs this afternoon. He gets on well with Bryan Cooper and, after seven starts over timber, has valuable experience of big fields – although not in such a competitive handicap. Do note he had previously beaten Amir Kabir at Galway but could not confirm the form on 4lbs worse terms.
Dads Lad was disappointing in his early years for Willie Mullins, but the penny has well and truly dropped, and he is very well treated over hurdles considering both his recent flat and chase form. He looks a worthy favourite.
* Betting odds correct at the time of publication. All odds are subject to changes.