Steve Hughes previews a super Saturday with Haydock and Ascot features
Top class jumping action today with the Betfair and 1965 Chases seeing two top contests, albeit with the emphasis very much on quality over quantity. From a betting perspective therefore I am looking to some of the chief supporting races for today’s bets at Haydock and Ascot. Duc de Beauchene was a winner in the previous column on Sunday (advised 7/2) whilst Quoi de Neuf was placed for the each-way bet (8/1).
Haydock 2.25: Highland Hunter & Tedham
Two horses towards the bottom of the weights appeal in this valuable handicap hurdle.
Highland Hunter is worth a wager if for no other reason he has transferred from Lucinda Russell to Paul Nicholls for this season. He has already displayed a high level of form, with two fine runs at this track in the winter. He was a close third on his only run in a handicap in January (only 3lbs higher today) which shows he is competitively weighted. He was then a respectable fifth in a Grade 2 on ground that was probably quicker than ideal. Any level of improvement for the switch in yards must bring him into calculations.
Tedham looks sure to win a big prize this season and on his performance at Cheltenham last time it would appear he is being primed with today’s contest in mind. He was never really put in the race with a chance that time, but did pass plenty of horses up the hill and that will have put him spot on for today. He ran well all of last season, but his one win came on a largely flat track at Wincanton and it could be that he is best off racing on tracks that place a greater emphasis on speed like Haydock. Nevertheless the way he finished off over 2m5f last time does suggest he is ready for a test at 3m.
Ascot 2.40: Call Me Lord
Very much a Sandown specialist so far, there is no reason why Call Me Lord cannot be as good around Ascot and he is taken to make a successful reappearance in this Grade 2.
His form around Sandown is 11213 including a win at this level and two narrow defeats in the Imperial Cup, the latter coming on his final start in March. That run off a mark of 160 was as good as any of his previous runs and with Ascot also a slightly undulating right-hand track he should be just as effective here.
We cannot draw any conclusions on his only previous run here in the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle last December as he was very badly hampered at halfway and may also not quite have lasted the extended 3m. We know he is fine at 2m4f and on soft ground as well as good enough for Grade 2 level.
Ascot 3.20: Capeland
This race very much centres around a dramatic race over course and distance just three weeks ago. On that occasion Capeland held every chance until being taken out through the wing by his quirky stablemate Diego Du Charmil. He can gain handsome recompense here.
One consolation for connections after than unfortunate incident was that the handicapper did not increase his rating when in reality he would have got at least a 4lb-5lb rise had things gone according to plan at the last fence. That means he is very well in for today and is 6lb well in with his stablemate/rival.
He loved the strong gallop making this a real test for 2m and will certainly get the same today with both Speredek and the blinkered first time Knocknanuss in opposition. All three of his chase wins last season came going right-handed and I think he is definitely best going this way around.
Haydock 3.40: Know the Score
Very limited on experience after just one chase under rules, Know the Score nevertheless looks the obvious choice in the finale.
He looks a relentless galloper who won his only point in Ireland with the minimum of fuss over 3m. A big money buy, his first two wins under rules came at two of the stiffest tracks in the country in Hexham and Towcester. He has been lightly raced since and had a wind op in the summer.
He seemed to benefit from that when making a successful debut over fences at Worcester last month. He has only been hit with a 5lb rise for that which seems lenient and takes on some old favourites here who are probably under the grip of the handicapper. With fitness on his side I think he can make the successful step up in trip into marathon company, especially around this sharp track.
0.75pts each-way – Highland Hunter – 2.25 Haydock – 11/1 Paddy Power (1/5 odds 1st 6)
1pt win – Tedham – 2.25 Haydock – 5/1 general
1.5pts win – Call Me Lord – 2.40 Ascot – 5/2 Betfred
1pt win – Capeland – 3.20 Ascot – 7/2 general
1pt win – Know The Score – 3.40 Haydock – 5/2 general