Seymour Biz looks ahead to Saturday’s action and fancies one of Anthony Honeyball’s charges to come good in the Peter Marsh Chase, at Haydock. Here are his Lucky 15 picks. Find all previous UK racing previews in his weekly column: Saturday Horse Racing Tips.
The ITV cameras visit two of the finest courses in the country this Saturday in Haydock and Ascot, it’s a pity some of the racing on offer does not match up to the backdrops. The most expensive and classiest race on offer is the Clarence House Chase at Ascot which has attracted just five runners. This looks like a match between three time winner Un de Sceaux and Defi Du Seuil, a repeat of the Tingle Creek where Phillip Hobbs’s gelding prevailed by a neck in a fighting finish. I expect Defi Du Seuil to confirm those placings over Willie Mullins’s 12-year-old warrior and snatch this prestigious prize from him. The rest of this week’s racing is pretty humdrum with trainers keeping their horses back as we are so close to Cheltenham and they won’t run their stable stars on soft ground. So with the going in mind I have trawled through this week’s cards for the best value for this week’s Lucky 15.
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Starting at Ascot with the 2.25 the Matchbook Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle over 2m 3f we have Pic d’Orhy from Paul Nicholls’s yard as favourite. This French import has been a star at Auteuil winning three times last year but was disappointing in the Triumph Hurdle last season on his first run for Nicholls finishing tenth. He was sent back to Auteuil in November but fell when prominent, I think he needs to to be watched. William Henry came out for his seasonal reappearance on New Years Day and ran third at Cheltenham, he may have that course on his mind as he tries his luck here. His trainer Nicky Henderson also has Colonial Dreams here along with Soul Emotion who were both in the same race at Newbury in December finishing 8th and 3rd respectively. I think Colonial Dreams could finish best of the three without winning. Bold Plan for Evan Williams won at Haydock in November beating Whoshotthesheriff and he can confirm those placings. My eye is taken by Irish raider, Thosedaysaregone, who crossed the water this time last year. He went to Wetherby and won before running in this race and finishing fourth a week later. Trainer Charles Byrnes gave him a run out at Punchestown in December and this race is his only target this time.
At 3.00 is the bet365 Handicap Chase, a 2m 5f contest. Espoir De Duye is the bookies choice after his victory here just before Christmas, but he is up 5lb in the weights and that may hold him back. Top weight is Kildisart from Ben Pauling’s yard but he has a lot to carry and may prefer less give in the ground. Clondaw Castle is highly fancied and Tom George’s charge ran well when second here in November, he followed that up with a poor run at Cheltenham in December and needs to improve on that outing to feature. Down at the bottom of the handicap is Brian Ellison’s Sam’s Adventure who was a good second behind Domaine de L’Isle at Newcastle earlier this month, he can reverse those placings but may have to settle for a place again. Happy Diva is my idea of the winner here, Kerry Lee’s mare won at Cheltenham in November then was just beaten a head at Doncaster last month.She has shown real improvement and though she has risen in the weights she may well be able to take this.
Moving north to Haydock Park the first race being covered is the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle at 2.05. Edwardstone is favourite here and trainer Alan King says of his Cheltenham Festival hope who has won both his hurdle races, “His form is rock solid and there are grounds for thinking there is a lot more to come from him.” Nicky Henderson has a strong hand here with Fred, Mister Coffey and Marie’s Rock. The latter may be the best of the the three as she showed in her recent victory at Taunton at the end of December. Prior to that she had won here at Haydock earlier in the month on soft going, so she handles the ground. Ribble Valley would be a popularly named local winner trained by Nicky Richards. He is a dual winner already this season but was a well beaten second in December at Ascot. In a difficult race to judge I will side with Alan King’s confidence in Edwardstone.
The Peter Marsh Chase at 2.40 is Haydock’s big race of the day and Definitely Red is saddled with top weight here. Brian Ellison’s charge is a prolific winner but has failed to get his head in front this year in three attempts. Another who looks high in the weights is Harry Fry’s Acting Lass who won at Chepstow in early December, he was just run out of it at Ascot later in the month. Sandy Thomson’s Geronimo won on his seasonal reappearance at Newcastle in December but this contest is an altogether different proposition, he would have needed to improve considerably to figure her. Prime Venture has been dropping down the handicap and now looks on a handy mark however Evan Williams’s gelding has failed to win since 2017. Midnight Tune on the other hand has won his last two, both on heavy ground and trainer Anthony Honeyball has had this race as his target for some time and been praying for bottomless ground for his front runner which is just what he’ll get at the Lancashire track.
Saturday Lucky 15
2.25 Ascot. Thosedaysaregone
3.00 Ascot. Happy Diva
2.05 Haydock. Edwardstone
2.40 Haydock. Midnight Tune