Haydock Race Preview, 20/02/2021

Haydock, Saturday February 20th

Haydock 2.40
William Hill Grand National Trial Handicap Chase Class 1 Grade 3
3m4f97y – Going: Soft (Heavy in places) – 9 runners

Ramses De Teillee
Close 2nd to Robinsfirth in this race in 2019, after he’d been runner-up to Elegant Escape in the 2018 Welsh Grand National. His getting the better of Yala Enki in a tight finish at Cheltenham in November appears to have had an adverse effect, tailed off in Becher Chase at Aintree and – surprisingly given his record at Chepstow – was 12th to Secret Reprieve beaten 55 lengths in the Welsh National in January, several mistakes and trailing in from 3 out; could now be best watched
Lord Du Mesnil
In this race last year was 2nd to Smooth Stepper, was 4 lengths up 2 out but gradually reeled in and couldn’t find more on the run-in; filled the same place in National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival,  was closed on approaching 3 out and was joined jumping, ridden approaching home turn, found extra turning in and disputed lead as 1st 2 pulled clear, together 2 out, ridden and stayed on, hit last, couldn’t go with Ravenhill under pressure last 150 yards. Currently having the difficult following season (although what possessed connections to run him in the Grand Sefton at Aintree over a woefully inadequate 2m5f, only they know); last time in Welsh Grand National at Chepstow niggled along after 18th and made a bit of ground to tag on to leading group, pushed along approaching 5 out, hard ridden and outpaced approaching 4 out, faded, well back when mistake 3 out, put under pressure after 2 out but made no ground, kept on after last, 9th beaten 20 lengths behind Secret Reprieve. Connections blamed the ground, which wasn’t the heavy going they called it on the morning of the race (changed to soft, but actually it was more like good to soft at worst) – more testing going here will see more of a good show from this one
Notachance
Followed up his Bangor-win and, as anticipated, proved well suited by the longer trip when successfully going up to 3m5f to take the Classic Chase at Warwick last month, niggled along after 18th, caught a bump on landing 4 out and momentarily unbalanced, pushed along, took 2nd under a ride home turn, led straightening, hard ridden, was challenged 2 out, put under strong pressure, all out, led half a length last, 1st 2 clear, driven out in a slow-motion finish, jockey going faster than the horse last 100 yards but always finding enough. Along with the reopposing runner-up Achille he had a very hard race and we’ll see here if it’s had any effect; obvious chance if not
The Two Amigos
Maintained his fine sequence when runner-up in Welsh Grand National at Chepstow in January, niggled along in a length and a bit lead from 5 out, was challenged by Secret Reprieve from 4 out, pushed along, headed 3 out, stayed on, a length down 2 out, switched to winner’s outer on landing, put under pressure, kept on, was 3 lengths down last, driven and kept on one pace, no extra last 150 yards, stuck to task. His record in this race doesn’t stack up so well – a faller in 2019 (halfway down the back straight on the final circuit and doing okay at the time) and tailed off behind Smooth Stepper last year, beginning to drop off the leaders when pecking on landing 2 out and well back last; not sure what to expect this time but, as was the case last year, comes here in good form
Perfect Candidate
Was the only one able to cope with borderline-raceable conditions in the last race on the Betfair Chase-card here at Haydock on November 21st, chased leader final circuit and clearly going best of the field even at that stage, led approaching 4 out, was the only one galloping at that point, just carried on to beat Fortified Bay 45 lengths (couldn’t make that bit up) – there was only one other finisher from the 11 who set out. Not raced since. The ‘form’ is a complete write-off – that runner-up checked out on the back straight when his stamina ran out in the Edinburgh National last time – and surely there’ll be no repeat off an undeserved 8-lbs higher mark, even if it turns into a swamp again
Sojourn*
After beating subsequent winner Amateur at Carlisle in November (keeping up the gallop when rather sideways and all over the place 2 out, hard driven, stayed on and pulled clear approaching last, ridden out hands and heels in clear lead run-in, in no danger, unchallenged), was a good 2nd to Sam’s Adventure in Tommy Whittle at Haydock in December, niggled along and led approaching 4 out, at most a length up 3 out, pushed along, stayed on approaching 2 out, hard driven between last 2, hung left, headed approaching last, hard driven and not stay on last 150 yards, faded close home and was being closed on by the next ones last strides. Travelled well and jumped soundly but an unconvincing finishing effort last time; all the same he has to be in the mix here
Achille
Lightly raced in recent seasons but ran a stormer on reappearance to chase Notachance home in Classic Chase at Warwick on reappearance and only run so far this season, started a move wide approaching 16th going comfortably, closing in midfield 18th, niggled along and further good ground to be prominent 3 out, widest of all and pushed along home turn, passed rivals to take 2nd when mistake 2 out, hard ridden, half a length down last, 1st 2 clear, hard driven, all out, no extra last 150 yards, looked held 100 yards out, closed on Notachance final strides but never getting there. Gave his all but had a very hard race – here’s where we’ll see if it’s set him back
Potters Legend*
Had a busy season already, this his fifth start: best of the campaign when 2nd at Cheltenham in December, was in a line of 3 disputing 2nd 3 out, vigorously pushed along and going worst of the leaders home turn, stayed on approaching 2 out, put under pressure between last 2, faded approaching last, looked held when left disputing 2nd by Commodore’s unseat, hard driven, stayed on well up the hill and closed on the idling Storm Control, got to within half a length, couldn’t find more when winner picked up again last 50 yards. Was 5th to Seeyouatmidnight in the veterans’ final at Sandown then last time was comprehensively mullered by Royale Pagaille in Peter Marsh at Haydock on January 23rd, chased leader 12th, shaken up home turn, ridden along and outpaced 4 out, hard driven after 3 out, left behind going to 2 out, no chance with Royale Pagaille but kept on approaching last, took distant 2nd jumping, stuck to task. In the Cheltenham race he shaped as though worth trying over an extreme distance, so a contender here
Enqarde*
First chase win since joining current connections when taking a 0-135 handicap over 2m7f180y at Ascot on January 23rd, a little keen, tended to jump slightly left, briefly shufffled back 4th, shaken up 16th, effort and within half a length 4 out, nearly upsides 3 out, pushed along and led approaching 2 out, drew clear and some 3 to 4 lengths up when put under pressure between last 2, ridden out hands and heels from last, stayed on well and maintained clear lead, workmanlike and decisive from Cobolobo. None were able to get to this one from the second last there and this could be an improving chaser; in terms of pedigree influence for the extreme trip, you have to go back a bit but there is some – on the dam’s side, Quart De Vin is one of the great-grandparents (he was the sire of – to pick just one out – Granit D’Estruval, who fell at the last when in with a chance of beating Grey Abbey in the 2004 Scottish Grand National)

Shortlist: Sojourn, Potters Legend, Enqarde

Haydock 3.50
Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle Series Qualifier Class 2
3m58y – Going: Soft (Heavy in places) – 12 runners

Champagne Platinum
Maiden chaser with best effort in Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival when a well-held 7th to Milan Native, blundered 19th, pushed along for a few strides after and good ground to close on leaders approaching 3 out, came back on the bit, pecked on landing, at most niggled along and within 3 lengths approaching home turn, pushed along on straightening, outpaced before mistake 2 out, looked held when put under pressure, no chance last. Switched to hurdles for reappearance at Newbury on November 28th and did well, started a move on the bit approaching 3 out, niggled along approaching 2 out, briefly pushed along between last 2, effort and improved to hold a chance jumping last, hard driven run-in, one pace, stuck to task but no extra last 125 yards, 3rd to Flash The Steel. Goes up in trip here and is not bred to stay – certainly didn’t stay at Cheltenham – and there’s also a suspicion that this one’s a bridle-horse
Clyne
Now in the veteran stage, best of four runs this season when 2nd at Haydock under 12-2 just before Christmas, disputed lead turning out of back straight, hard ridden and reminders home turn, chased leader before mistake 3 out, driven, lugged left, jumped left and across rival 2 out but led, stayed on under pressure in narrow lead, half a length up last, hard driven, was challenged a furlong out, soon headed, hard driven, no extra, all out last 100 yards, weakened close home and beaten just over 2 lengths behind Queenohearts; not quite so good last time behind Potters Hedger, chased leader 9th, firmly pushed along and faded coming off home turn, weakened approaching 3 out, no extra between there and 2 out, well back in 5th jumping, kept on after last and closed on those ahead last 200 yards, 5th beaten 11 lengths. Now in cheekpieces first time – his trainer Evan Williams is 14 wins from 70 runners first time in that headgear (20% strike rate) over the last five years, including Ring The Moon at Leicester on Thursday this week
Redford Road
Has failed to confirm a promising reappearance and chasing debut at Perth in September on all three subsequent runs, last time at Newbury just after Christmas prominent 17th, closed up more to track leaders home turn, niggled along, every chance approaching 4 out, soon firmly pushed along, hard driven after 3 out and faded approaching 2 out, well held there, weakened markedly between last 2, looked heavy-legged, tailed off when in a bit of a heap last, 7th to Amateur beaten nearly 42 lengths.  Returning to hurdles here, best watched
Sykes
His last win was in this race two years ago, as usual making the running; in this race last year was a below-form 4th to Welsh Saint, headed approaching 3 out, kept on but one pace approaching 2 out, put under presure and lost ground approaching last, left well-held 3rd by faller, lost that place last 150 yards.  No form this season, beaten 37 lengths and 22 lengths on his two runs, last time at Chepstow on January 9th held up, pushed along briefly after 4th, moved largely comfortably turning out of back straight, pushed along home turn, made a couple of places and rear of leading group around 6 lengths down 3 out, hard ridden, fading when not fluent 2 out, well held between last 2, weakened further run-in and 8th to Storm Arising. Little expected now
Potters Hedger*
An unlucky half a length-2nd at Lingfield on reappearance,  led 2 out, wandered right, hard driven between last 2, went left (right-hand whip) approaching last bumping rival, every chance when mistake last, headed, hard driven, still a chance last 150 yards, closed on leader only for Storm Arising to swamp the pair, took narrow 2nd post. After a very poor effort at Sandown in December behind Portrush Ted, was visored instead of blinkered and returned to form when winning at Haydock on January 23rd, midfield, ridden along after 9th, tracked leaders going better turning out of back straight, put under pressure and stayed on approaching 2 out, 1st 3 clear, was a length and a half behind last, hard driven, went 3 lengths behind 200 yards out, driven and stayed on 150 yards out, closed on leader, led inside last 100 yards under strong pressure, going away final strides. In a race in which an excess of stamina was called for, this one had the most on the day as he beat Farrants Way half a length, with Clyne back in 5th; races a bit lazily but could go well again
Farrants Way
Good reappearance effort when 3 lengths 3rd to Portrush Ted and Storm Arising in Pertemps Qualifier at Sandown in December, disputed lead 7th, mistake 9th, niggled along, mistake 3 out, held place, travelled largely comfortably home turn, niggled along approaching 2 out in slight lead, soon hard ridden, in close to 2 out and headed, hard ridden and faded between last 2, looked held last, hard driven and no impression run-in. Disappointing when well held behind Storm Arising at Chepstow in January, making mistakes and beaten 20 lengths, but back to form when running Potters Hedger close at Haydock last time, made much of the running, went 2 to 3 lengths up before was closed on approaching 3 out, took off on the wrong leg 2 out, sustained effort under very strong pressure between last 2, a length and a half up when mistake last, very hard driven, drew 3 lengths up 200 yards out, all out, tired last 125 yards, wss closed on, headed and no extra last 75 yards. Left it all on the track and had a very hard race – we’ll see if that had an effect on him here
Elf De Re
Best form over hurdles to date when stepped up to 2m6f151y and running Kiltealy Briggs to half a length at Kelso on January 12th, led, niggled along approaching 2 out, was joined jumping, hard ridden, stayed on in narrow lead between last 2, lugged left a little approaching last but sustained effort, a head up last, hard driven, headed 150 yards out, no extra final strides. Hasn’t cracked it over fences in two starts, double-digit defeats on both; was returned to hurdles at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day and did nothing, blundered 2nd, nudged along before mistake 5th, lost place and dropped rear 7th, pushed along, mistake 9th, well back and making no ground when mistake and lost hind legs 3 out, left alone, tailed off 2 out behind Navajo Pass. The trip won’t be a problem (half-brother to 3m chase winner Brook); present form suggests he’s best watched, however last time, along with the two chase-runs (his three career-worst), were also his only starts to date on right-handed tracks – now he’s back the other way round
Look My Way*
Took a couple of runs to hit form this season, then ran a stormer when splitting Mint Condition (subsequently 2nd in Grade 2 Leamington Novices’) and Supremely Lucky (winner next time) at Wetherby on Boxing Day, headway when mistake 9th, edged closer home turn going largely comfortably, niggled along approaching 3 out, soon more firmly pushed along, stayed on though not going best approaching 2 out, had 2 lengths to find when put under pressure between last 2, sustained effort and chased winner approaching last, hard driven, kept on one pace last 150 yards – didn’t flinch, but met one too good on the day. Was 6th to Proschema in jumpers’ bumper at Newcastle on February 2nd when last seen, disputed lead 3 1/2 f out, pushed along 2 1/2 f out, headed 2f out, faded, put under pressure, no more entering final furlong, stuck to task. Stays well on the Flat (won Chester Plate, the Chester Cup consolation, in 2018) and not expected to have a problem with 3m
Captain Moirette
Won a small-field 2m3f handicap hurdle at Haydock in December 2019 (tracked leaders turning out of back straight, produced to challenge 3 out, niggled along approaching 2 out, 1st 2 clear, jumped it a neck down,  stayed on under only a hand ride, upsides when hit last, hard driven, stayed on well last 175 yards to assert over Chti Balko close home), but no form since in two starts this season, both over fences, last time at Haydock on December 19th tracked leaders approaching 6th, pushed along and lost place/reminder after 7th, not fluent 8th, dropped to last home turn, weakened, tailed off 4 out and trailed in behind Equus Millar. Not bred to stay this far (half-brother Dakota Moirette barely stays trips around 2m4f)
Everglow*
Won small-field novice at Ascot in November, the better jump 8th and pressed on in a half-length lead, niggled along approaching home turn, pushed along home turn, ears pricked approaching 2 out, a length up jumping, hard ridden, put under pressure between last 2, stayed on well and further clear when mistake last, wandered run-in, driven out, stayed on well last 150 yards, decisive from Fearless Fracas; ran okay in Lanzarote at Kempton last time, held up, mistake 7th, edged closer and midfield approaching 3 out, soon ridden along, tapped for pace home turn under a ride, kept on in midfield approaching 2 out, passed a few, no impression when steadied into last, well back run-in, kept on last 150 yards and was closing on the 6th final strides, beaten 12 lengths by Boreham Bill. Should stay this trip (dam’s dam was the dam of 3m chase-winner De Soto and hunter chaser Dammam, who ran a close 3rd in the four-miler at Cheltenham’s hunter chase-evening in 2013)
Faire Part Sivola
Joined Lucinda Russell prior to this season and best effort for new yard so far when 3rd to Rock On Fruity last time out at Kelso over 2m6f151y on December 29th, midfield, mistake 7th, in close to 8th and niggled along away from it, not fluent 9th and niggled again, outpaced and dropped to detached last bend before 3 out, pushed along, in close to it, pushed again, stayed on going to 2 out, hard ridden, strong effort between last 2 and started to pick rivals off, closed on leaders under pressure and 3 lengths 4th approaching last, soon took 3rd, stuck to task run-in but no further impression last 100 yards. The run of the race didn’t suit him – could have done with it being more strongly run as he ended up a detached last when things cranked up approaching the third last – and there’s more to come from this one when he gets more of a test
Bushypark
Completed a four-timer in three weeks (off marks of 83, 98, 98 and 105) when winning at Doncaster on December 11th, made all, mistake 3rd, pushed along in  2-length lead home turn, mistake 3 out, hard ridden, stayed on well, clear 2 out, sustained effort under a hard ride approaching last, mistake, hard driven, was closed on run-in, all out but always holding on – harder work than for the previous three as he beat Eyeofthescorpion just over 2 lengths in a 0-115 handicap. Failed to land odds of 4/6 in a jumpers’ bumper at Newcastle on January 8th when last seen, led, niggled along 3f out, soon more firmly pushed along and quickened, headed 2f out, weakened markedly and dropped back through field last 300 yards, well back post 10th to Set In Stone beaten 13 lengths. My rating for him coming in to this is 20 lbs shy of the 120-mark he has here and for me, stepping up from Class 4 to Class 2-company, he’s outclassed

Shortlist: Potters Hedger, Look My Way, Everglow