Our resident tipster says 'back the outsider of three at Haydock.'
There are some small fields at Haydock this afternoon with a couple of races attracting just three runners.
They wouldn’t be great betting mediums normally but I fancy an upset of sorts in the 2m graduation chase (due off 1.20pm), with outsider of three and recent Lingfield winner DOCTOR PHOENIX definitely worth an interest at the forecast 7/1 – indeed, I’d snap your hand off for that price!
He’s up against one of my horse racing tip favourites Paul Nicholls and Solar Impulse, who was fairly consistent in his first season over fences, winning once at Wetherby, but is likely to need his first run back. Indeed, Nicholls said in a recent Stable Tour that he was a “bit behind the others at present.” King’s Lad, the other member of the trio, shouldn’t lack for fitness having finished third at Kempton his reappearance earlier this month, but he is no world-beater and has to give 7lb to the David Dennis-trained selection.
Dennis is a trainer on the up and is gradually increasing the quality of his string. In Doctor Phoenix he has a serious chaser to go to war with and, having been too immature for fences last season, when he won twice over hurdles, the seven-year-old was strongly fancied when landing a touch last time. Jumping brilliantly and clearly relishing the soft ground, he proved far too good for some more experienced rivals and his trainer – writing in a Stable Tour this week – reports him to have come out of that race well, describing him as “very exciting.”
It could well turn out to be a good day for the trainer as he has double prospects with WADE HARPER, who contests the “fixed brush” “national hunt” novices’ hurdle run later on the card (3.05pm). A winner of a bumper last season, he has come up short in both his hurdle starts this term, but there was no disgrace in his second to subsequent winner Marracudja – who runs in the 1.55 race – last time. The handicapper has given him a mark of 129 based on that evidence and, while he should be able to win off it, this looks an easier option to get off the mark.
He’s a full-brother to World Hurdle winner Cole Harden and his future lies over fences – has schooled well according to his trainer. But he can definitely win over hurdles and today’s longer trip and testing conditions should help him do just that. Daryl Jacob, who is having his first ride for the stable, has been booked.
There are bigger fields at Ascot and the best bet there looks to be the Tom George-trained BALLINVARRIG in the 2m5f handicap chase (2.40pm). The eight-year-old is best going right-handed on soft ground and landed a big payday for connections when winning over 3m at Kempton last Christmas off just a 3lb lower mark. But he’s won here too and his trainer considers him to be better over shorter, so today’s trip looks ideal.
You can make a case for each of his six rivals, the best of whom may be Tenor Nivernais, trained by the in-form Venetia Williams, but the selection goes well fresh and according to George (Stable Tour) has been “lined up” for this.