The 48-hour declarations were made for the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock on Saturday. Ten will go to post yet it is 5/1 the field with Harry Fry’s recent lightly-raced 9-year-old Acting Lass, BetVictor’s market leader. The horse has only had 11 career starts – 10 going right-handed – but did win going left-handed at Chepstow back in December.
Only five go to post for the Clarence House Chase tomorrow and it does look a rematch of the Tingle Creek last month when Defi Du Seuil just touched off Un De Sceaux. The former heads the market at 4/5 with BetVictor with the Irish challenger 6/5 to win the Grade 1 prize for a fourth time at the age of 12.
Heavy ground forecast at Chepstow and the opener is a cracking handicap chase over three miles. I shall be keeping a close eye on the market for Alberto’s Dream who ran better than his finishing position would suggest on his first start for Katy Price at Ffos Las last month. My two against the field, however, are Lac Sacre (1.10) and Alminar with marginal preference for the former.
The selection ran out a cosy winner at Ffos Las from a 7lbs lower mark last time, but such was the ease of that success that he could still be ahead of the handicapper. Ben Jones again takes 5lbs from his back. Alminar finished third in this corresponding race 12 months ago and he is fitted with first-time blinkers – replacing usual cheek-pieces – this afternoon. Leading amateur Kieran Buckley – who rode a winner for the Anthony Honeyball yard on the level earlier in the week – takes over in the plate and the seven-year-old is entitled to come on for his reappearance when third at Ffos Las back in November.
Keppage won a poor novice hurdle at Leicester despite his jumping but has an engine and it will be interesting to see how he jumps in the novice hurdle. He is sure to have been well schooled in the interim period by David Pipe and he does have an engine, but he must jump with more fluency in this grade.
Getaway Fred was a bit keen in a good race at Kempton on Boxing Day over the minimum trip and Robbie Power will likely try and dictate his own pace from the front stepping up in trip by an additional half-a-mile. He must give 6lbs, however, to Fado Des Brosses (1.45) and I just favour the Evan Williams-trained runner.
The selection has just turned five and has run two good races in defeat over C&D and at Ffos Las. The old cliché anything he does over hurdles will be a bonus fits as he really will make a smashing chaser in time. He gets the nod but this winner between the flags is certainly one to keep on the right side of going forward.
At Musselburgh if Highway Companion (1.20) settles better than when beaten by three-quarters of a length over C&D by Not The Chablis – reopposes on 2lbs worse terms – then he could be very well handicapped. The selection has been a beaten favourite on three of his last five starts, but today’s better ground – given as good to soft at noon on Thursday – saw him in a better light last time and Brian Hughes keeps the mount.
Kajaki (3.00) is a horse I have been waiting to run since he finished second to Pagero at Doncaster last month. The winner is now rated 15lbs higher, but the problem is that the selection has been raised by 6lbs himself for finishing runner up. I still think he may be well treated for Nicky Richards.
A market move for Irish raider The Mouse Doctor would be worth noting as he ran on from a long way back to finish a never nearer fourth at Leopardstown in a hot handicap on St Stephen’s Day. He is 9lbs higher in Britain than Ireland but receives 13lbs from the selection and Tony Martin brings him over for the forecast decent ground.
Donald McCain’s Chuvelo chases a hat-trick but he must give 10lbs to Martin’s Good Time Jonny (4.00) who finished third on the same Leopardstown card that stablemate The Mouse Doctor finished fourth on Boxing Day. That is usually a hot Leopardstown Bumper and he should give the likely favourite plenty to think about in receipt of the weight.
At Lingfield Haddaf made all over a mile at Chelmsford last week but can actually race from a mark 1lb lower this afternoon. Grace McEntee is very good value for her 7lbs claim and the likely market leader would be carrying 7lbs extra if this race were run 24 hours later.
I am going to take him on, however, with Qaabil (12.00) who was drawn wide and may have done too much too soon over a mile at Kempton last time. The drop back to 7f should suit and Haddaf should give him something to run at.