This trio of runners at Haydock could brighten up your midweek no end
The midweek racing is more than up to scratch with the excellent jumps fare on offer at Haydock providing today’s bets.
The opening 2m handicap hurdle (due off 2.10pm) looks very competitive on paper, with the hat-trick chasing and likely favourite Satanic Beat being taken on by three other last-time-out winners and a couple of David Pipe-trained representatives. But I’m going to take them all on with Chris Gordon’s JEBRIL, who has got bogged down on soft ground on more than one occasion this winter and will appreciate the return to today’s quicker conditions.
They’re calling the ground “good to soft” and with no rain forecast it could dry out a little more, which would be perfect for the selection as his win at Plumpton in October came on good ground. It’s not as if he’s been disgraced since either as he ran the very smart Jolly’s Cracked It to a length on his next start at Ascot, and was a respectable ninth in the ultra-competitive Ladbroke Hurdle when returned to that track in December.
The handicapper has kindly dropped him 3lb since then and given his early season form he ought to pick up a decent handicap like this one off his revised rating of 127. I’m a big fan of his trainer, who places his horses well, and with the highly talented Tom Cannon riding the majority they have struck up a good partnership, with 21 winners from 120 runners (18%) already this term. Cannon has had just four rides at the track and he’s won on two of them. Let’s hope the selection can be another for him.
They team up again with Lightentertainment in the 2m4f handicap on the card (3.15pm) and the seven-year-old should go well on his first run back since finishing midfield in the Betfair Hurdle. He was four from five over hurdles before that, including twice over this sort of trip, and while up in the weights he may still some improvement in him. The worry is that he has to give stacks of weight to Dan Skelton’s MASTERFUL ACT, who absolutely hacked up at Huntingdon last week and has his 7lb penalty for that success negated by his rider Bridget Andrews claim. That can prove decisive.
The third and final bet, AMBION WOOD, looks thrown in on his old form in the 2m4f handicap chase (3.50pm), and he should be a decent price as it’s a competitive little race. Very lightly-raced for a nine-year-old, he’s clearly had a few problems and he’s been restricted to just one run this term, a tailed-off last of 11 finishers at Exeter in February, when he reportedly bled from the nose. He’s not without risks, admittedly, but when he’s on song he’s very good and has now won five of his 13 starts under Rules, including a Grade 3 handicap hurdle at Sandown and a beginners’ chase at Worcester from just three starts over the larger obstacles.
His Sandown success came off a mark of 132 and he achieved a 10lb higher rating when following up in a Class 2 race at Perth, so he’s obviously well treated here on a perch of 134. His trainer Victor Dartnall doesn’t send many up to the Lancashire track from his Devon Base, but when he does it’s worth taking note and I’m hopeful the selection can make could make the long journey worthwhile.