Haydock Race Preview, 15/02/2020

Haydock
Saturday February 15th
Inspection 8:00am

Haydock 3:15
Unibet Grand National Trial Handicap Chase Class 1 Grade 3
3m4f97y – Going: Heavy – 11 runners

Elegant Escape
Blinkered first time in Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury two starts ago but still ran in snatches, pushed along after 5 out, strong run approaching 4 out, sustained effort straight, nearest finish when 3rd to De Rasher Counter; didn’t see the race out in Welsh Grand National at Chepstow, headway 18th and prominent turning out of back straight, firmly pushed along and had a chance 5 out, hard driven 4 out, mistake 3 out, no extra under pressure, looked held some 3 or 4 lengths down when slow last, faded behind Potters Corner. Chucks the odd mistake still, and not sure what we’ll get now
Yala Enki*
Been back to form last two runs, in Welsh Grand National when 3rd to Potters Corner, made some of the running, every chance 4 out as pushed along and moved upsides leader, ridden and chased leaders 3 out, one pace from 2 out, some 3 lengths down last, driven, kept on, no impression last 100 yards. Saw it out well at Chepstow and not disgraced. Confirmed that form when winning 3m4f conditions’ chase at Taunton last time, pressed on and opened up a 2-length lead going to 16th where not fluent, pushed along after 4 out, stayed on in front, led 4 lengths coming off home turn, stayed on in clear lead from 3 out, mistake 2 out, pushed along to maintain going to last, stumbled on landing, pushed out from Rock The Kasbah. Seems sure to go well
Ballyoptic
In this race last year ridden along 10th, mistake 11th, tailing off from 13th and pulled up before next behind Robinsfirth. Cracking start to the campaign with two wins including Charlie Hall at Wetherby, but lost form since, badly tailed off in Becher Chase over the National fences at Aintree, midfield, pushed along 13th, mistake 14th (Foinavon), ridden along approaching 16th, struggling passing omitted 17th, losing place when mistake 3 out, weakened markedly approaching home turn, tailed off 2 out behind Walk In The Mill. In the 2018 Becher it was ‘prominent travelling comfortably’ when he fell halfway, in the latest at about the same point it was ‘midfield pushed along’. Best watched if lining up (first preference race is 2:25 Ascot)
Vintage Clouds
After a modest 3rd to Lord Du Mesnil in Tommy Whittle in December (tailed off 4 out, driven and kept on a bit going to 2 out, passed beaten ones), stepped up to win Peter Marsh in January, made all, pressed on final circuit, reminder home turn, drew well clear from 3 out, in no danger from 2 out, ridden out, unchallenged from Definitly Red. Off 143 that time, he’s now up to an unfeasible career-high 154 and the highest mark he’s run to form off is 144, so no reason to suppose he’ll improve on his modest 3rd in this race in 2017
One For Arthur*
It’s been a better start to this season than last, with a nice keeping-on 4th to Mysteree at Kelso on first run of the campaign, a couple of slow jumps but strong effort home turn and closed on those ahead, stayed on into 3rd passing the omitted fences in the straight, lost that place inside last 200 yards but stuck to task. Maybe not so encouraging in Becher Chase at Aintree last time, struggling 3 out, effort home turn, passed a few and closed on those ahead approaching 2 out, sustained effort approaching last, one reminder, kept on approaching the Elbow though well held, took 6th 250 yards out and took 5th/closed on 4th inside final 100 yards, nearest finish behind Walk In The Mill – an okay effort with good late work in the last half mile, but disconcertingly he was on and off the bit in the last mile and a half. In first time cheekpieces and off his Grand National winning mark, this might not be his ultimate target but he has a good chance of winning it – if he does there won’t be a penalty to carry in the 2020 National, for which he has a favourable weight
Steely Addition
Best effort last season when defeating Yalltari in novices’ limited handicap at Chepstow in December 2018, moved well home turn, chased leader 5 out, looked the winner approaching 4 out, drew upsides there, 1st 2 drew clear, on the wrong leg 3 out, still not shaken up 2 out, finally ridden a few strides after that and quickly put under pressure/wandered, still only upsides jumping last, hard driven, asserted 150 yards out. Total contrast to that when last of 4 to Santini in intermediate at Sandown only start this term, mistake 14th, lost place and pushed along next, mistake 16th, relegated to last 17th, struggling home turn, well held 2 out, had got very tired and labouring when blundered last, no more. Inconsistent and career-high mark to overcome, but might take a hand at his best
Lord Du Mesnil
Completed the hattrick, the second leg of which was an easy win in Tommy Whittle here, by taking The Last Fling Chase over this c/d just after Christmas, travelled best of the field as went 3 or 4 lengths clear 18th, was closed on turning out of back straight, moved best home turn, nudged along approaching 4 out, pushed along after it, hard driven after 3 out, stayed on, was 7 lengths up jumping, drew further clear under a ride by last, ridden out to beat Perfect Candidate. Obvious chance
The Two Amigos*
In this race last year, when he came on the back of a good win in Sussex National at Plumpton, he fell when up with the pace going comfortably at the 14th. Looks in as good form this time round, having taken a different route to get here, taking in the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow; led after 12th, ridden into 15th, was joined 4 out and pushed along, ridden and headed 3 out, kept on from 2 out, faded after last, lost ground on 1st 4 last 150 yards. His jumping held but, after a positive ride, didn’t see out the trip – depending on how much rain falls, this could end up less testing
Geronimo
Went to the Peter Marsh here in January on the back of a good win over 2m4f at Newcastle in December,  led approaching 3 out, went through it, ridden clear, idled in front, driven, went further clear by last, ridden out, stayed on well enough, was closed on by River Frost last 150 yards but in no danger. Didn’t impress with how he went through the race here behind Vintage Clouds though, hard work from the getgo and reminders on and off, stayed on straight when the winner was away and just failed to get 2nd off Definitly Red. Likely to stay the longer trip (proven at 3m3f)
Pobbles Bay
In this race last year was struggling in rear going nowhere when unseating 18th. Some promise in two runs over hurdles this season, but didn’t show much in Welsh Grand National last time out, pushed along 15th, a little ground home turn and just about in contention in rear of main group, mistake 5 out, ridden and weakened approaching 4 out, well held from 3 out, pushed out run-in and not quite get modest 7th final strides behind Potters Corner. Has had his chances in races like this
Smooth Stepper
No form last season but better this, good 2nd to King’s Odyssey in veterans’ event at Warwick prior to a good show in the end in Veterans’ Series’ Final at Sandown last month although didn’t impress with how he went through the race, niggled along from 12th, mistake 14th, pushed along from 15th, outpaced and struggling under a ride 3 out, carried head awkwardly but kept on passing omitted 3 out, still well back 2 out, hard ridden, stayed on approaching last, sustained effort run-in, closed on 5th last 150 yards, nearest finish. Where he ended up after the last of the Railway Fences, looking more likely to tail off under a strong ride, is a fairer reflection of his merit than where he was at the line, and he seems more likely to get out of things before getting in to it

Shortlist: Yala Enki, One For Arthur, The Two Amigos

Haydock 3:50
Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle Series Qualifier Class 2
3m58y – Going: Heavy (Soft in places) – 12 runners

Unowhatimeanharry*
Not the force of old perhaps – whilst acknowledging he won the Champion Stayers’ at Punchestown last season (no Paisley Park there of course) – but still has most of his ability and after running fair races in West Yorkshire at Wetherby and Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury, chased Apple’s Jade home at Leopardstown over Christmas in the Grade 1 Frank Ward Memorial, held up, in close to 2nd, reached for 6th, ridden into 7th, moved comfortably and closer order from 8th, passed a few after 3 out with 8 to 10 lengths to find on winner, mistake 2 out, ridden, stayed on into 2nd under pressuire approaching last, no impression on winner, ridden out, all out, kept on to maintain clear advantage over the 3rd, Penhill. The choice of race here seems left field, but on what he’s shown this season, he could be competitive
Sykes
In this race last year made all the running and found more and more after the last to hold off Silva Eclipse. Good reappearance at Cheltenham when 3rd to Tobefair in October,  the better jump 3 out as tried to press on, was strongly challenged after 2 out, led a length home turn, was challenged last, soon headed, not much room 175 yards out, faded, no extra up the hill. Made most before fading in sthe straight when 4th to Eva’s Oskar at Chepstow last time. Has been dropped to 143, his winning mark from this race last year, and no prizes for guessing what the tactics are going to be
Kilbricken Storm*
On second run of the season a good show when 3rd to Skandiburg at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, tracked leaders, pushed along briefly 2 out, travelled better home turn and every chance within a length, disputed lead approaching last, pushed along, every chance jumping, put under pressure, faded last 175 yards, lost ground on 1st 2. Up in class, probably ran to his best when 6th to Paisley Park in Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on January 25th, looked well in the paddock, chased leader after 6th, moved well enough after 2 out as pace began to increase, niggled along home turn, outpaced approaching last, faded, hard ridden, no impression going to last, steadied into it and mistake, kept on a bit up the hill. Running well enough this season to suggest he could go close here (and by implication in the Final too)
Guitar Pete
Winning reappearance this season in Listed handicap chase at Wetherby in November beating the Betvictor Gold Cup winner Happy Diva, chased leaders under a push 4 out, sustained effort and every chance 3 out, ridden, stayed on, led approaching 2 out, ridden and stayed on to draw further clear approaching last. Nothing else since though, stepped up to 3m last time but tailed off in Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby behind Top Ville Ben. With four flops from four tries over 2m7f or more to date, not for me
Kris Spin
On first start for a year, little sign of retaining ability when pulled up at Chepstow on December 27th behind Eva’s Oskar, midfield when mistake 6th, niggled along after next, mistake 8th, lost further ground, ridden and weakened further home turn, tailing off when pulled up after 3 out. Now 12, after that he’s best watched
Fagan
Formerly trained by Gordon Elliott and was rated 149 over hurdles, 147 over fences, last seen in 2018 Scottish National when pulled up behind Joe Farrell,  lost place and rear/struggling 16th, tailed off 5 out, pulled up before next. Absent since and now with new connections (who bought him in May 2018, so they’ve been patient clearly), seems best watched
Portrush Ted
Winner of the Grade 2 bumper at Aintree in April 2018. Has clearly had issues as he’s had only two runs over hurdles, one in August 2018 and the other on January 2nd this year, 519 days later; he won both, so comes here unbeaten over timber. The comeback win was at Ayr over 2m5f, led  approaching 3 out, pushed along, stayed on and drew clear going to 2 out, some 6 lengths up there, still pushed along going to last, hard driven early on run-in, was closed on, stayed on well last 150 yards to maintain not-so-clear lead, workmanlike and decisive. Just beginning to come to the end of his tether having been sent for home at the third last, in keeping with his pedigree, which is not a stamina-one – his best known relative is Bun Doran, most often seen over 2m these days, and his dam is a half-sister to a 2m hurdle-winner; opposed therefore as he’s not bred to stay 3m
Welsh Saint
Won at Warwick in December; best run to date over hurdles when 3rd to Protektorat at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, mistake 6th, moved comfortably enough in 3 lengths 4th when mistake 2 out, pushed along and lost place approaching home turn, was 10 lengths 5th turning in, kept on under a hand ride and closed on the 4th approaching last, driven early on run-in, stayed on, took 3rd inside final 150 yards, no impression on 1st 2. Flattered to finish 3rd after mistakes took their toll. Not bred to stay 3m – his many relatives include full-brother Irish Saint, who flopped over 3m every time he raced over the trip, so best watched for me here
Young Bull*
Completed a hattrick when winning at Wetherby on Boxing Day, led narrowly 3rd, disputed it 4th, in close to 6th, led 8th, nudged along approaching turn out of back straight, soon more firmly pushed as disputed lead and 1st 2 drew a little way clear, came wide into home straight, opened up a 3-length lead going to 3 out, ridden along, stayed on, some 3 or 4 lengths clear 2 out, put under pressure approaching last, around 3 lengths up jumping, driven, idled and headed, picked up again when challenged, found more under pressure last 175 yards, pulled clear close home. Only dossed on the run-in and won that with a little in hand from Ozzy Thomas; a half-brother to Shanroe Santos who’s won over 3m3f, this one seems sure to stay and has a good chance
Tree Of Liberty
Most recently been over fences and checked out readily at Wetherby on January 23rd when trailed in behind Charmant, niggled along after 7th, lost place from 8th, well held in rear 12th, tailed off 4 out; best run when failing to complete at Cheltenham in Silver Trophy last April, midfield 4 out, niggled along going down the hill to 3 out, ridden and outpaced going to home turn, no impression on leaders and looked held when unseating 2 out behind Mister Whitaker. With staying chaser Bewleys Berry among this one’s relatives, he could well stay this new longer trip – the handicapper’s given him a serious chance too dropping him to 130
Silva Eclipse
Couldn’t have run closer when finishing 2nd to Sykes in this race last year, only giving best in the last 100 yards.  Looked a difficult ride despite winning at Haydock last time, the jockey at him from a long way out; midfield 6th, niggled along 7th, ridden into 8th, pushed along approaching 9th, rear of main group but not going best as outpaced under a ride turning out of back straight, began to stay on approaching 3 out, within 4 lengths 2 out, put under pressure, about 5 lengths down last, hard driven, stayed on wide final 200 yards, strong effort to lead 150 yards, out, ridden out, stayed on well to draw clear of the irresolute Imperial Knight. Could have gone up more for it and looks a player here
River Arrow
Only the one win over hurdles but there doesn’t seem much wrong with her temperament, seemingly disadvantaged by a steady pace when 2nd to reopposing rival Silva Eclipse at Uttoxeter on November 24th, some 5 lengths down 3 out, shaken up as the sprint finish started, strong effort wide approaching 2 out, within 2 lengths when mistake, hard driven, one pace, stuck to task but looked held going to last, driven and stayed on well run-in, closing on winner final strides but always just held. 4th to Dame De Compagnie at Cheltenham last time, a repeat of the Uttoxeter run would get her into this

Shortlist: Unowhatimeanharry, Kilbricken Storm, Young Bull

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