Haydock Preview, 18/01/20

Haydock
Saturday January 18th

Haydock 2.40
Peter Marsh Chase Limited Handicap Class 1 Grade 2
3m1f125y – Going: Heavy – 10 runners

Definitly Red
After a disappointing reappearance in the Charlie Hall, much better from him in Becher Chase over the National fences at Aintree last month, although it was hard work in the last half mile; pushed along after 16th and again after omitted 17th, ridden and outpaced after 3 out, struggling home turn, put under pressure in 12 lengths 6th approaching 2 out, looked well held before last, driven and picked up a bit approaching the Elbow, switched wide, sustained effort to go 4th, no further impression last 200 yards and 4th to Walk In The Mill. Needs more but conditions in his favour
Acting Lass*
Returned to form after a period in the doldrums when winning Welsh National Trial at Chepstow in early December, then a better performance on form when chasing home Regal Encore at Ascot last month, prominent approaching 11th, within half a length 12th, disputed lead 4 out, arguably travelled best home turn, pushed along home turn, led 2 out, ridden, stayed on, narrowly headed last, stuck to task well under pressure, no extra final strides. Strong claims
Flying Angel
Won an uncompetitive, seven-runner handicap chase at Ascot in November (bit surprising he’s here and not there this raceday), but disappointing to an extent in Sefton over the National fences at Aintree on December 7th, ridden 4 out, hard driven and going worst of the main group approaching bend before 2 out, put under pressure and couldn’t go with leaders approaching last, kept on at the Elbow, no more last 200 yards, faded, well-beaten 4th to Hogan’s Height. With a record over 2m7f or more of five defeats from five attempts (highest position 3rd, shortest distance beaten seven lengths), an automatic elimination
Vintage Clouds
Disappointing since running a good 2nd in Ultima at last year’s Cheltenham Festival and no real encouragement to take from his distant 3rd to Lord Du Mesnil in Tommy Whittle over this c/d last month, mistake 13th and lost ground, midfield and struggling 14th, some 12 to 15 lengths behind leader and in rear turning out of back straight and looked well held, tailed off 4 out, driven and kept on a bit going to 2 out, passed beaten ones before steadied into last, kept on run-in and took poor 3rd post. He is off a competitive mark though, and is hard to leave out
Red Indian
Encouraging winning chasing  debut at Ayr in November 2018, led 11th, led a length and going more comfortably than at any other stage of the race after 5 out, pushed along off home turn, clear when steadied into 3 out, ridden after 2 out and stayed on strongly to draw further clear of No Hassle Hoff, safe last, decisive. It was a race of two halves – he was on and off the bridle on the first circuit, but warmed to his task on the second lap. Lost his way subsequently and was tailed off in the novices’ handicap chase at the Cheltenham Festival (hard ridden and couldn’t stay with them at the top of the hill, dropped back through field, weakened further and tailed off home turn) and handicap hurdle at Aintree. Very effective when fresh up to now and likely to stay, a good show from him wouldn’t be a surprise
Champers On Ice
In good form in handicap hurdles this season although was hard work when 3rd to Goodbye Dancer at Cheltenham last time, hard ridden before and after 2 out, put under pressure and kept on approaching last, stayed on under driving, passed a couple to go 2nd but lost that close home, stuck to task. Hasn’t raced over fences since March 2017; his best chase-run would give him a chance, 2nd to American at Warwick in January 2017, put under pressure 4 out, struggling in 8 lengths 4th home turn, kept on from 2 out, moved into 2nd last, driven, closed on American till flattened out and tired/no further impression last 100 yards – I put three ‘not fluents’ or ‘mistakes’ in my notes for that, and three ‘blundereds’ in my notes for his run in the 2017 National Hunt Chase, his most recent chase. After three years out of chasing, the way he jumped when last running over them, he’s not for me in this
Geronimo*
His pulled-up in the 2019 Scottish Grand National is the only time he hasn’t been out of the first three in all his starts under Rules to date (ten runs, three wins, five 2nds and a 3rd). Winning reappearance at Newcastle on December 21st, made ground to challenge leader approaching 4 out, ridden, 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 of defeat. Seems sure to take a hand
Prime Venture
Still a maiden over fences. Two good runs at Chepstow this season, the latest in the Welsh Grand National over Christmas, prominent, niggled along home turn, had a chance 5 out, pushed along, put under pressure after 3 out, couldn’t go with leaders when mistake 2 out, kept on and took 4th last, driven and kept on last 150 yards but unable to make a place. Already looking held when his error at the second last confirmed that this would be ‘placed at best’, mistakes have been a feature of his chase runs – but his form remains good enough to win chases
Midnight Tune*
Won three times over hurdles. Not out of the first two when completing over fences, and lines up on a hattrick here having won her last two chases, at Uttoxeter over 3m in November went on, clear, occasionally jumped right, was closed on turning out of back straight, moved best 4 out,  some 12 lengths up when in close to 2 out, not hard ridden to draw further clear after last, readily from The Toojumpa; then overcame drop in trip to follow up at Exeter last month, firmly pushed along approaching omitted 4 out, not going as well as challenger approaching 3 out, found more and went 3 lengths up, steadied into 2 out and went right, put under pressure approaching last, not fluent there, hard ridden run-in and stayed on well to pull clear of Dame Du Soir. Progressing, stays and acts on the ground
Claud And Goldie
Won two of his seven runs under Rules, both at Kelso and including last time out (also reappearance), although the form can be queried; moved comfortably but shuffled back to midfield bend before 2 out (normally 4 out), turned for home in 4 lengths 6th, pushed along, effort under a ride passing omitted 2 out, outpaced approaching omitted last, put under strong pressure and got the stands’ side (nearside) rail, stayed on well, led a few strides from the post. Best work here in the last 150 yards and may well be flattered – the omission of the fences in the home straight meant that he could take the nearside rail to race against and that undoubtedly helped him win, eventual 3rd Wild West Wind, who was 5 lengths up bypassing the last, rather falling in a hole. All the same he’ll be better suited by this trip; ground a query

Shortlist: Acting Lass, Geronimo, Midnight Tune

Haydock 3.15
The New One Hurdle Class 1 Grade 2
1m7f144y – Going: Heavy – 4 runners

There are no top-class hurdlers around at the moment, so the Champion Hurdler could easily be in here. Ballyandy** may well have won the International Hurdle at Cheltenham if he’d been ridden closer to the pace, but was ridden more positively in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton and couldn’t find more when coming under a ride at the second last; he could do this though, as it’s less deep than either of his last two races. Even before the Fighting Fifth those who’d seen Cornerstone Lad* in handicaps knew how tough and genuine he was, and it was no surprise that he just pulled out more and more when beating Buveur D’Air at Newcastle – everyone was talking about the runner-up, but it seemed to have been forgotten that back in third was the Champion Hurdle-third Silver Streak, so that was two horses that he supposedly wasn’t as good as, that he beat in the Fighting Fifth; so for me he’s in the mix here. I’m not interested in Pentland Hills – how many four year-olds don’t train on – after he faded late on in the International, giving him a bit to do with Ballyandy, and Darasso doesn’t look good enough on his hurdling form, it looking rather odd to me that his chasing career has been put on hold after one successful start – the horse he beat at Gowran Park last February, Forge Meadow, was subsequently midfield off 144 in a handicap.

Selection: BALLYANDY – Alternative: Cornerstone Lad

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