A dry day forecast at Haydock, but the ground is likely to be a mix of soft and heavy after the recent rains in the northwest.
1.15 Haydock - Benson (Each Way)
Findthetime is 5lbs higher than when runner up at Wetherby last time when he was beaten less than a length by the Dan Skelton trained Rocky Man last month on his seasonal reappearance. That is significant because Skelton saddles the four-year-old French import L’Eau Du Sud who makes his British debut for his leading connections who include Sir Alex Ferguson.
Findthetime lost nothing in defeat at Wetherby, however, and it is interesting that connections have decided to persevere with him over timber given he looks every inch a chaser.
L’Eau Du Sud’s listed success at Auteuil back in the spring has not worked out very well although the fifth has won over fences. It is possible that he is well handicapped off his current mark and he was backed from 5/2 into 7/4 on Thursday afternoon with William Hill. Dan Skelton wrote in the Racing Post of the 4-y-o’s prospects for Haydock: “I’d like to think he’d be pretty competitive.”
The each way vote, however, goes to BENSON (EW) who won a valuable 2m Betfair sponsored hurdle at Sandown when trained by Dr Richard Newland a couple of years ago. The each way selection gave every indication when runner up at Carlisle on his first start for Sandy Thompson that he would appreciate a return to further and this near 2m 3f trip looks ideal. He has been raised 2lbs for Carlisle, but Bruce Lynn takes over in the saddle claiming 5lbs.
2.25 Haydock - Brinkley (Each Way)
I have backed a couple in the £125k 3m Handicap Hurdle Imperial Aura and BRINKLEY (EW) with preference for the latter who represents the David Pipe stable who have such a good record in the race.
Imperial Aura was tanking along in the Betfair Chase on this card 12 months ago before coming down a mile from home and he failed to finish on his two other chase starts last term. He reverts to timber for his seasonal debut and can race from the same mark as when landing the last running of the much-missed novices’ handicap chase at the Festival of 2020.
At his pomp he was rated 20lbs higher over fences, but he was a good hurdler who will enjoy the testing conditions. He will revert to fences sooner rather than later, but 25/1 – with Paddy Power and Betfair - is an insult although no 9-y-old has won the race since 2016.
Brinkley has a good record fresh, and he is another who spent much of last season over the larger obstacles. His best form is, arguably, going right-handed but he has won going left-handed and is 10lbs lower in the weights than when beaten 16L in last year’s Pertemps Final on ground quicker than ideal.
The Pipe yard did us a favour with Ramses De Teillee a grey who mixes chasing and hurdling at Warwick earlier in the week and the hope is that this inmate with a similar profile can double up.
Good Risk At All and Peking Rose have done us a favour already this autumn and they have their chance – as does the Cesarewitch winner Run For Oscar of course – but the each way vote goes to the Pipe horse.
3.35 Haydock - Houston Texas (Nap)
Trainer Nicky Richards nominated the 4m+ Eider Chase at Newcastle as the primary objective for HOUSTON TEXAS after he scored at Carlisle on his reappearance. A 6lbs rise for that win looks fair and he remains at the right end of the handicap.
This is a much stronger race than the one he contested in Cumbria, but he has won his last three over fences and is lightly-raced – just eight starts under rules – for one who is rising nine.
At the time of writing Venetia Williams has not saddled a winner for over 200-days but it is only a matter of time before her legions hit top form. Fontaine Collonges is one to consider although his stamina must be taken on trust.
3.15 Ascot - Boothill
The return of brilliant Constitution Hill is the Ascot feature, but I am also looking forward to the 2m handicap chase which sees the seasonal debut of Arkle winner Edwardstone who must give 10lbs and more to his eight rivals.
The vote, however, goes to BOOTHILL who looked a reformed character when scoring at Newton Abbot last month from an 8lbs lower mark. The runner up has since scored convincingly at Chepstow and the drop back to two miles looked pivotal last time. Remember the selections penultimate start was over three miles over hurdles on soft ground at Galway in the summer.
I have always thought there was a good horse waiting to get out and he receives 21lbs from the market leader.
* Betting odds correct at the time of publication. All odds are subject to changes.