Haydock 3.15 Saturday (Swinton Hurdle) - Brentford Hope (Each Way)
The Flat season may well be in full swing now, but my head is still turned by some of the National Hunt contests and this weekend at Haydock we have the Swinton Hurdle, a juicy handicap for punters to get stuck into.
There will be some familiar names that will be lining up at 3.15pm on Saturday, including the likes of Afadil, Aucunrisque and Ben Pauling’s unexposed French horse Bad. However, it is former classy Flat performer BRENTFORD HOPE (EW) who looks to have major claims in my view. Rated 102 on the level, it is fair to say that the 6-year-old has a fair engine, and has started to get the hang of things over obstacles.
Since joining rookie trainer Harry Derham,the tongue-tie has been applied and he has produced two very smooth wins in Maiden and Novice Hurdle company. Thrown into deeper waters here, naturally he will have more on his plate off a mark of 123 in Handicap company, but has the raw materials which make look at an attractive proposition for this. His jumping is improving race by race and I am finding it hard to boot him out of the frame.
Chester 4.55 Wednesday - Broken Spear (Each Way)
To more immediate affairs, and one horse who has been burning up more tracker reappears in the concluding race at Chester on Wednesday. We are over 7f for this Handicap, where a return to Chester for the 7-year-old BROKEN SPEAR (EW) could be just the tonic needed for the gelding to get back in the winners enclosure.
He saves his best form for this meeting, demonstrated by the fact he won this assignment in 2021 off a mark of 85, twelve months ago he was 4th in this corresponding contest where he fluffed the start and was always on the back-foot from the get-go and probably went down as an unlucky loser and that was off a mark of 84. So here we are again - groundhog day.
For the 2023 renewal, Broken Spear runs off 80 - he looks very well handicapped, will enjoy the forecast rain, and perhaps crucially this time around, he has the plumb draw in stall 1. A low draw on the Roodee always helps, so connections won’t be complaining about the hand they have been dealt here. Arriving on the back of a narrow defeat at Leicester over 6f, he has had the perfect tune up for this, and I’m finding it hard to knock him out of the frame.
* Betting odds correct at the time of publication. All odds are subject to changes.
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