CeeBee previews Saturday's horse racing from Haydock on Betfair Chase day with bets on One for Harry & Barafundle in the Fixed Brush Hurdle and Holywell in the big chase.
14.25 Haydock – Fixed Brush Handicap Hurdle
One for Harry (OR 135) was running a fine race here 12 months ago when tipping up 4 out. He had yet to be asked a serious question, but was travelling well on the front-end when plenty were struggling out the back. That was off a mark of 133.
His form tailed off somewhat after that, putting in some very poor efforts, but it culminated with him starting this season off a decent handicap mark (OR 129). He capitalized on it with a win in Carlisle (2m4f on soft). In fact he had won the same race the previous year before his run in the Fixed Brush Hurdle. This time around at Carlisle the front two, One for Harry and Shotavodka, pulled 8L clear of the field. Shotavodka racing off 132 looks a very well handicapped horse (mid 140s over both hurdles and fences at his best). Behind them in 4th, 5th and 7th were in-form race-fit horses that had won or finished 2nd 3wks previously. It looks to be solid form.
Craig Nichol replaces Brian Harding in the saddle. Craig has had two winners for Nicky recently and his 3lb claim will help negate the 6lb hike he got for winning last time.
One for Harry finished that Carlisle race in the style of one who wouldn’t mind another few furlongs and he has finished 2nd over 3miles on heavy ground previously in his career so the trip shouldn’t be an issue, nor should the soft/heavy ground. He’s getting weight from almost all of his rivals and Nicky Richards yard has fired in 4 winners from 11 runners in November. At 20/1 for this in-form son of Generous there’s plenty of e/w value.
Barafundle (OR 140) is another long-shot who could go well. He turns 12 this season, but due to injuries (missed all of the 2011/12 & 2013/14 seasons) he doesn’t have big mileage up. He has Haydock winning form from last season (3m handicap hurdle OR 133) which ties in closely with Closing Ceremony and he will certainly handle the soft ground. The worse the better for him in fact. He placed in this race in both 2010 (behind Grand Crus) and 2012 (behind Trustan Times) and both those efforts were his seasonal reappearance. His overall form suggests he usually comes on for his first run so despite his effort at Carlisle two weeks ago being somewhat below-par I’m glad he had the outing and it should have brought him on a bit and ready for this test. In Carlisle he was checked/collided into mid-race, lost his position and seemed to sulk a little. It’s worrying enough, but hopefully a change in headgear and return to hurdles will help.
There’s enough in his profile to suggest he definitely shouldn’t be 40/1
Quickly to some of the others;
Shantou Bob looks well handicapped on his best form, but he has had wind problems (& an operation) last year and was very poor when last seen at Cheltenham so there’s obvious risks associated with him.
Tea for Two is 5lbs (+ another 2lbs for Lizzie’s reduced claim) higher than his Lanzarote win last year. In my opinion that was a race that fell apart due to non-stayers and poor performances – those who finished immediately behind him have done very little since. Price reflects previous stable success in the race.
The Pond House representatives Batavir and Low Key are hard to fancy with the yard going through a bad spell.
Closing Ceremony looks on a stiff mark. He won a dreadful G2 Rendlesham and went up 8lbs for it. Even his previous Haydock win from Araldur and American Life hasn’t worked out brilliantly.
Baradari also has question marks to answer at the trip. His best win to date was at 2m3f. His price towards the head of the market is based on the assumption that Dan Skelton will get some improvement out of him. This is only an assumption and not one I’d like to bet on. Coming from Venetia’s is very different to those Dan has improved from McCain’s yard.
Wychwoods Brook is similar to Barafundle (just half the price). He’s younger but has Haydock winning form and would also be at home in even worse conditions. He races off 132 and won the Peter Marsh chase here off 130 2yrs ago so is definitely on a workable mark. With 5 Pulled-Up efforts in his last 7 outings he’s a risky play however.
Bold Sir Brian has been given a chance by the handicapper but it would take quite a leap of faith to back him. The once smart horse has missed considerable time with various injuries and it’s now 3yrs since he’s even threatened to win.
Vics Canvas had a terrific season last term but this is a few furlongs short of his optimum trip. First time out, turning 13 later this season, he’s up against it.
1 point each way One for Harry 20/1 with Paddy Power, Betfred and BetVictor
0.5 points each way Barafundle at 40/1 with 888Sport
15.00 Haydock – Betfair Chase 3m
I’ve seen Silviniaco Conti described as a certainty in the Betfair Chase this weekend (I stopped reading at that point - for the record). His chance is obvious and yes he’s the most likely winner of the race but at 8/11 he’s worth opposing. Remember he was beaten here in 2013 and only got on top of Menorah in the final furlong last year. Menorah would’ve been the outsider of six had he run here this year and Conti was all out to beat him 2L. The last time he jumped a fence in public, Aintree last April, he only had a head to spare over Ballynagour in the Betfair Bowl. In fact he was behind a stride after the line and had Ballynagour not made a horrible mistake 4out the result would’ve been different. He’s not that much superior than this lost that he warrants being odds on to deliver. He’s definitely no certainty.
The issue with taking on Conti is all the others have obvious negatives. We’ll start with David Pipe’s duo of Dynaste and Ballynagour. Despite having winning and placed form at 3miles I believe both would prefer a few furlongs less. Dynaste’ sole win (from 9 efforts) outside of novice company came in the Ryanair Chase over 2m5f. The major issue today though is stable form. After watching many of their stablemates weaken out of contention after travelling well last weekend I couldn’t bring myself to back a Pond House inmate until a corner is well and truly turned.
Ah Cue Card, where do we start with this fella? The Charlie Hall and Betfair Chase winner who doesn’t stay 3miles - that makes sense doesn’t it? Seriously though I wouldn’t be rushing to back this fella. His Charlie Hall victory hinted at a return to form (didn’t get within 12L of winning in five outings last term) but on closer inspection I’d be sceptical. He was getting 10lbs off Sam Winner, Holywell or Many Clouds weren’t remotely fit, Ballynagour was ridden to get the trip and never in a place to put down a prolonged challenge whilst Dynaste looks in regression. He had been poor in France prior to Wetherby. Cue Card also had a more obscure/higher than usual head carriage when coming under pressure on the run-in. For a horse that had numerous muscle and wind issues in the past it would worry me. With Conti in the race this will be a more relentless gallop than Wetherby was, probably on softer ground. Cue Card could be found wanting when stamina reserves are required.
Holywell, the youngest in the field, has been described in many places as a spring horse. That’s somewhat unfair. It’s like calling Buena Vista a March horse – he was only fit and trying once a year! Jonjo wasn’t trying with Holywell in the past few winters with a view to having him well handicapped or peaking in March. After coming up short in last year’s Gold Cup there could be a different approach this season. The only truly bad effort he has put in (when fit and trying) during the winter months was at Aintree last year and he jumped woefully that day. Interestingly he had cheekpieces on. It was traditionally cheekpieces during the winter then blinkers on the big day in March. Now the blinkers are applied every time.
Holywell has never shown a whole lot first time out so his Charlie Hall effort was adequate. He got a fairly sympathetic ride once beaten and was also conceding 6lbs to Cue Card and the Pipe pair. Only 2 starts ago he was just 2L behind Conti and Ballynagour in the Betfair Bowl and Holywell was coming off a tougher Cheltenham Gold Cup run than Conti (Bally was fresh). He’s clearly a better horse on decent ground but that fine Cheltenham effort shows he can handle soft ground. In fact against suspect stayers he could actually be somewhat suited to the softer ground this time. He has very little to find and if Conti is a few lbs below his best I think Holywell is the most likely to capitalise. He has the extra bit of stamina that Menorah lacked 12mts ago.
0.5 points each way Holywell at 20/1 with Paddy Power, Betfred and BetVictor
1 point win Holywell w/o Silviniaco Conti (when prices available)