More to come from Hills Of Dubai at Haydock
Fingers crossed, the recent spate of abandonments might be a thing of the past with the weather forecast encouraging for the start of the turf flat season this weekend. We mentioned the booking of Ryan Moore for Michael Bell’s Fire Brigade yesterday and, after further support, the four-year-old was cut to 6/1 favourite (from 8s) with BetVictor with doubts surrounding the participation of 7/1 Lord Glitters.
Gordon Elliot reports his Cross-Country Chase winner Tiger Roll (16s from 20s with BetVictor) on course for the Grand National and the brilliant Irish handler could be mob-handed in the race with last year’s runner up Cause Of Causes, Monday’s Down Royal winner Mala Beach and Ucello Conti all reported to be on target for Aintree.
Haydock is sure to be testing for this afternoon’s jumps card and the Novices’ Handicap Chase over two-and-a-half miles is a cracker with four of the six having won last time out and the other couple having finished runner up.
Hills Of Dubai (3.15) will not get an easy lead with Hogan’s Height in the field but I feel there might be more to come from Donald McCain’s lightly-raced nine-year-old who has been raised just 2lbs for his latest Ayr success.
Bako De La Saulaie will have the race run to suit given he gets further than today’s trip but a bigger danger on this occasion might be the recent 3m Wetherby winner Just Georgie who hinted that a drop in distance would not be an inconvenience.
The combination of good ground and two miles around a sharp track was too much for Doc Carver at Plumpton last time and he must go close for Henry Oliver. I just favour top-weight Secret Legacy (3.50) who might be a little better than a 120-rated animal and hope he can give weight to his nine rivals.
The selection won a Bumper at Tipperary on his racecourse debut and fell on his British debut at Leicester when he had been joined when coming down at the last over two-and-a-half miles. Secret Legacy will jump a fence in time but the hope is that he can take this decent prize before switching his attentions to the larger obstacles next term.
The handicapper has given Katenko a chance in the Veterans’ Chase, but he was a light of his former self when last seen over 12 months ago and is best watched unless the market says otherwise. Until Winning has the best recent form and Noel George gets on really well with the 10-year-old but I am going to take a chance on Shockingtimes (4.20) despite the fact that he has more letters (FR2U) than numbers in the recent formbook.
The selection has his quirks but has not had too much luck of late and remains well treated on his best form. Tom O’Brien was in the plate when the gelding last won back in December 2015 and he is taken to reward each way support.
Heavy ground at Chepstow and Samburu Shujaa will appreciate going left-handed having hung left in his last couple of starts. Marginal preference, however, is for David Pipe’s Garran City (3.25) who finished third after a near two-year absence over C&D last month.
The gelding won his sole point in his native Ireland and will jump a fence next term, but he showed enough on his comeback to suggest he could take a modest novice hurdle – although he does have the profile of a horse who might ‘bounce’.
You could argue the handicapper has taken no chances in raising The Bay Birch (4.00) 6lbs for winning at Towcester last time given the vast majority of her rivals either fell over or ran off the track. I just feel she might have a bit more to offer, however, and can follow up at the expense of the hat-trick seeking Market Road who has actually won four of his last six starts.
At Kempton, Warburton (6.45) drops back in trip, having faded into fourth over an extended nine furlongs on debut and this gelded son of Dawn Approach should appreciate dropping back in distance.
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