Haydock Race Preview, 21/12/19

Saturday December 21st

Haydock 2.40
Betway Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase Class 2 0-145
3m1f125y – Going: Heavy – 9 runners

Last season’s Eider Chase winner and Scottish Grand National runner-up, in the latter at Ayr led 3 out, driven, headed 2 out, stayed on, still half a chance last, hard driven and weakened last 100 yards, was being closed on strongly by 3rd and 4th final strides. Inadequate trip at Cheltenham on reappearance but worsening conditions also surely played a part, dropped rear and pushed along 13th, mistake 15th, made a little ground, weakened quickly passing omitted 3 out, tailed off when pulled up before next behind The Conditional. Inadequate trip again but conditions in favour
Vintage Clouds
Best of last season when runner-up to Beware The Bear in Ultima at the Cheltenham Festival, making a lot of the running, in close to 17th and pushed along away from it, stayed on, held place to 3 out, put under pressure home turn, stayed on and led approaching 2 out, hard driven, headed last, no extra last 175 yards, stuck to task and closed on winner a little last 100 yards. Little encouragement behind Mysteree at Kelso on reappearance, vigorously pushed along starting final circuit, lost place 8th, looked well held 11th, tailing off when mistake last (normally 3 out), driven passing omitted 2 out, kept on late and passed a beaten one but essentially well back. His run in the Becher Chase is probably best not discussed, already hating the thing when coming up with a blunder at The Chair that had to be seen to be believed, soon pulled up. Anything but firing at the moment, however return to Haydock (two wins, five times runner-up) might bring about improvement
In this race last year, wearing a first-time visor, turned up late in the day to collar Ballyarthur close home. It’s mostly gone pear-shaped since, refusing to race in the Eider at Newcastle, although his reappearance over hurdles at Newbury was good, staying on well from the second last to chase Diablo De Rouhet home. Ran as he usually runs these days though in Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury last time behind De Rasher Counter, reminder after 5th, passed a couple 7th, not fluent 8th, raced wide, headway and midfield 10th, lost place and hard driven 12th, dropped rear and going much the worst of the field after 16th, mistake 17th, ridden and well back 3 out, no more. No knowing what to expect from him now, the visor left off as it was at Newbury
Top Wood*
Runner-up in 2018 Cheltenham Foxhunters’, 3rd in the latest renewal and won the Aintree Foxhunters’ this year, finding more under pressure than the better-travelling Burning Ambition. Given a try in handicap company, acquitted himself well on reappearance at Ascot last month when runner-up, prominent 10th, chased Militarian from 15th, niggled from 16th, pushed along 3 out, one pace home turn as winner went clear, stayed on under a ride going to last, was a length and a bit down early on run-in, hard driven, no extra final 125 yards as winner went clear. Has a chance here on that run
The Hollow Ginge
Won at Worcester in September on his reappearance and made a great attempt to follow up at Aintree in October, chased leader starting final circuit, mistake 14th, ridden into 15th, pushed along 4 out, every chance 3 out, hard ridden, a length and a half down 2 out, put under pressure, no extra approaching last, strong effort run-in, closed on idling winner final 150 yards, no extra final strides as Plan Of Attack picked up again. Once more made a good fist of it in graduation at Haydock last time, pressing on from the home turn, challenged from the fourth last to the second last, holding every chance under a strong ride till weakening going to the last and losing further ground run-in behind Keeper Hill. Good run likely again
Orchardstown Cross
On reappearance, completed a long-range hattrick when winning competitive handicap chase at Exeter in November, moved comfortably 11th though yet to pass a rival, finally started a move from 13th,  firmly pushed along home turn, closed on those ahead, prominent 4 out, further ground and led 3 out, went clear by 2 out, hard ridden, put under pressure and idled in front, led a length and a bit last, driven out, stayed on well enough. Gave the impression he’d have picked up if challenged, idling before and after the last in beating Dancing Shadow. Not in the same form at Ascot next time behind Militarian, again held up in rear, briefly niggled along after 13th, pushed along from 15th, no headway under a ride by 3 out, put under pressure home turn, no ground, tailed off. Reunited with Rex Dingle who rode at Exeter, worth another chance before concluding that his limitations are exposed
Late Romantic
First win under Rules when taking a 0-120 handicap chase at Wetherby in early November, disputed lead 15th, moved comfortably as led 4 out, pushed along going to 3 out, 1st 2 pulled clear, headed 2 out, hard ridden, stayed on going to last, led jumping, found more, drew clear under pressure run-in, workmanlike and decisive in the end from Renwick. Perhaps found out by a change of tactics and a longer trip over 3m4f at Haydock last time behind Perfect Candidate, held up, overjumped 1st, raced wide, hit 13th, midfield 14th, hit 16th, pushed along 17th, faded home turn, looked held approaching 4 out, tailing off 3 out, trailed in. Worth another chance
Calipso Collonges
Best performance last season when winning at Uttoxeter over 2m4f last New Year’s Eve, raced freely, in close to 11th, lost a couple of lengths and niggled along, ridden into and went through 4 out, pushed along, had 5 lengths to find 3 out, put under pressure, stayed on, upsides Aintree My Dream but the worse jump last, hard driven, not much room 100 yards out as cutaway-rail on stands’ side came in, strong effort under pressure final 50 yards to get up and going away at the post: also ran well when 2nd to Tommy Silver at Ludlow, arguably given too much to do that time. Not at his best this season, in Anne Duchess Of Westminster Memorial at Bangor last time held up, settled better than in the Uttoxeter race, midfield before mistake 9th, bumped rival 11th, ridden into 12th, moved comfortably till pushed along briefly after 4 out, looked held 3 out, ridden along, put under pressure home turn, weakened, well back 2 out, tailed off behnid Graceful Legend. He’s now down to his winning mark, but the flip side is he’s not wearing his usual hood
Lord Du Mesnil*
First win when taking 0-135 novices’ handicap at Newcastle on November 30th, setting steady to medium pace, quickened from 11th, in close to 4 out, hard ridden, found more going to 3 out, put under pressure going to 2 out, in close to it, was challenged, 1st 2 clear, headed approaching last, rallied, upsides last, hard driven and found more last 150 yards, led close home from Sam’s Adventure. Needs more in this better race, but is only six and may now start to improve

Shortlist: Top Wood, Lord Du Mesnil

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