Saturday, 26 March 2016

Haydock

Some good quality action throughout the card although we were all waiting on weather conditions with a band of rain forecast to strike before and during racing.

As it happened it didn't arrive until before the sixth race, which meant it favoured those hoping for good ground and caused the withdrawal of a few soft ground merchants.

The opener was a deep mares race and they were not easy to separate beforehand. The winner Lady Of Longstone was one of the stronger ones and it was surprising she went off so big - I hadn't even considered betting in the race.

The three chases were of considerable interest however and I had quite easily got the middle distance series final down to three including the winner Ballybolley.

Twister's seven-year-old had looked capable of producing something like this when travelling all over them at Wetherby only to have his speed blunted by the heavy ground.

Things didn't quite fall right at Kempton last week but they went a more sensible tempo here and he wasn't off the bridle to despatch a predominantly northern field.

I quite liked Raktiman but this C2 event was probably a step too far and he never really got into it, while The Cobbler Swayne is a horse to keep on side next term when they will surely try him over further. Not for the first time he shaped as though 3m would suit and he looks the part.

I backed Five In A Row at the festival when he failed to get involved on the better ground. This was similar terrain but he got a much more positive ride and was the only one to give the winner anything to think about.

He's a horse I really like and I'm convinced he wants 3m and indeed further. His jumping looks really safe now and is another who i'm looking forward to seeing next season - softer ground will also help.

Emerging Force really fills the eye and I can't wait to follow his progress next season when they'll surely go over fences. He's got bundles of stamina and was well on top when unshipping Nico at the final flight here.

It was a double whammy as I'd backed him and then laid Petethepear at the top of the straight when the pack started to close. To make matters worse I had lumped on Pete when he flopped at Wetherby but has gone well twice in succession now, this time in some headgear. He stayed on better than I'd thought but was a clear second best.

Alzammar was a major disappointment with things evidently in his favour, but Fingeronthswitch looked in terrific order and just seems to have been stung by the assessor. Hainan is only five and rates as a big improver of late - this ground would be lively enough for him and he stayed on nicely.

The staying chase series final was a cracker and the good ground was important as it meant that I couldn't back my old friend Gonalston Cloud, whose stamina is his forte and this test would be too sharp.

I thought No Duffer looked magnificent beforehand and is everything a paddock watcher is looking for. He's been very in-and-out during his career but when he's on song he's pretty good. I had to back Jac The Legend as well as he's been so consistent and along with Baku Bay had a massive weight swing with Gonalston Cloud.

Baku Bay proved a bit disappointing as he had every chance in first time cheekpieces. They were the four I was interested in and they came clear of the rest. Gonalston Cloud's effort was tremendous on a day when it paid to lay up with the pace. As such he remains on a good mark and he's crying out for 3m4f.

I liked Apterix in the 2m handicap hurdle but the race wasn't really run to suit as he loves to come late off a fast pace. He seemed to have bumped into one in the well-backed Thunder Sheik, but the Swinton back here may suit better.

El Beau had to go close and he ran a weird race, travelling and jumping well early on. I looked down for a bit and when I looked back up he was gone! He trailed home and this couldn't be his running.

The marathon chase was very difficult especially after a short monsoon hit the track and turned the course quite a bit softer. Nothing stood out in the murk or from a value perspective. I had been mulling a go on the well-handicapped Kilbree Kid but the going had turned against him and he backed out of it under pressure.

The bumper was a disappointment after Asum was pulled out and there looked to be no reason why jolly River Wylde shouldn't win - he looked well and forward enough. However, the experience of Elgin told on the run to the line and A King's horse backed up the form of Happy Hollow's bumper at Southwell where the winner has gone and won again.  

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