La Bague Au Roi arrives here having won her last three, including an excellent victory on first attempt over a three mile trip when last seen. Soft ground holds no fears for the seven-year old and she has been given a decent amount of time to overcome the exertions of her last victory so should be capable of giving favourite-backers a winning start to today’s ITV races.
Midnight Tune also brings decent form in to this race having won her last two. Her trainer is in excellent recent form and she has struck up a great relationship with jockey Aidan Coleman (three wins and a place from five) so looks a decent option for forecast purposes, although Dusky Legend could also prove a threat if she has recovered from a fall last time out.
LA BAGUE AU ROI (WIN)
D McCain Jnr has a 32% winning strike rate over the last twelve months at the course and saddles early favourite Waterlord in a bid to enhance this record even further. The seven-year old has improved markedly in his last two races, winning convincingly in heavy ground on both occasions. That said, the recent trainer form has to be a concern.
First Flow is unbeaten in two since tackling hurdles and is another at home in the forecast conditions. He is certainly worth a go at this level and is partnered with in-form jockey David Bass so shouldn’t be underestimated, however I am opting for Lostintranslation who was only two lengths behind subsequent Grade 2 winner Claimantakinforgan on penultimate run and followed up with a decent looking victory when last seen.
Crossed My Mind, Oxwich Bay and Le Breuil all appeal as types to get involved but their respective prices do not appeal considering the competitive nature of the race, while Nicky Henderson managed to get Jenkins back in to the winners’ enclosure last time out but I am not convinced he will be able to follow up here.
As such I am opting for a horse that I am hoping will improve for the step back up in trip having put in a disappointing run last time out. The horse in question is Air Horse One who races for Harry Fry, a trainer with a 30% winning strike rate with his runners over hurdles in the last three years at the course. He won on only previous visit to Ascot and is two from two over today’s trip so looks a decent each way option in what looks to be a competitive field.
AIR HORSE ONE (E/W)
The New One has won this race for the last three years and returns to defend his crown once again. At ten years of age there is no doubt that time will catch up with him at some point but he’s put in a couple of excellent runs against top class opponents in December and could be capable of notching up another victory here.
Clyne chased home The New One in this race last year and has also had to settle for runner-up spot when they met again earlier this season. He rarely runs a bad race and will likely be there to pick up the pieces if the favourite falters.
THE NEW ONE (WIN)
Tenor Nivernais has made the frame in three from four at the course and races for Venetia Williams who won this race with Dare Me in 2016. He has a good record when returning from a break so the layoff shouldn’t be an issue, although carrying top weight and considering the recent form of the trainer he is probably best watched today.
Shantou Flyer has won three from six over todays’ trip and was a decent second when last seen at Cheltenham on New Years Day. He is again partnered with Mitchell Bastyan who claims a handy 5lbs and should be capable of making his presence felt.
That said, preference is for Harry Fry’s runner Acting Lass who has won his last two since switching to fences. Race distance and forecast conditions look ideal for another victory today and he looks sure to progress even further as the season unfolds.
ACTING LASS (WIN) - NAP
Rock The Kasbah won on only previous visit to Haydock and has made the frame in eight from ten in soft or heavy ground so looks a solid option for anyone using the place market or betting each-way. That said, this looks to be a tough race with a couple who could get involved so the price doesn’t appeal and as such is passed over.
Captain Redbeard put in a commanding performance when last seen, winning by six lengths in heavy ground here at Haydock, and has made the frame in all four prior runs at the course. Today sees a step up in class but his course form puts him in with a chance.
Forest des Aigles arrives with the best recent form having won his last three and with conditions and distance to suit is another worthy of consideration.
CAPTAIN REDBEARD (E/W)
The final ITV race of the day sees Un De Sceaux attempt to win this race for the third year in a row and the multiple grade 1 winner has conditions in his favour once again so despite the odds being very short he looks tough to oppose.
Both Nicky Henderson and Nico De Boinville have also been in excellent recent form and team up with Brain Power who has plenty of scope on only his third run over fences, while Paul Nicholls has struggled for winners in recent weeks but has won this race four times since 2008 so San Benedeto is considered for forecast purposes.
UN DE SCEAUX (WIN)
written by Dean Kilbryde