Our racing expert marks your card for the afternoon action at Haydock.
Tom Dascombe has been the trainer to follow in handicaps at this track with his 55 winners (from 265 runners) since 2012 yielding a profit of £114.40 to £1 level-stakes.
His CALDER PRINCE is therefore worthy of respect in the 7f handicap on that record alone and a glance at the five-year-old’s CV only increases interest further. That’s because he has won twice here in the past, including once over this trip on soft ground, which is forecast, and is now back down to his last winning mark, achieved when bolting up on the all-weather at Wolverhampton in April. He’s posted some decent efforts since, including a fifth over this track and trip in June, when paying the price for disputing a strong pace, and his wind has been operated on in the meantime. It all points to a big run and he’s deserving of favouritism.
They are a pretty exposed bunch in the 5f handicap but one who is going to relish the easy ground is last year’s winner MAJOR PUSEY. John Gallagher’s six-year-old has not troubled the judge since, doing best when third of five at Bath on his seasonal reappearance, but he’s slipped down the weights as a result and lines off a 4lb lower mark than when awarding favourite backers 12 months ago. The ground was riding soft on that occasion and that is clearly the key to him as he has now won three times on such a surface. It’s therefore easy to forgive him two fairly heavy defeats the last twice on fast ground and he’s going to be a different proposition here.
The opening two races can go to well-bred newcomers with John Gosden’s SPARKLE ROLL, a 750,000euros yearling and a half-sister to Derby hero Wings Of Eagles, initiating a short-priced double in the 1m fillies’ novice. Just over half an hour later, William Haggas’ HIDDEN MESSAGE can do the business against eight rivals in the 6f novice for fillies. Both have Group entries so should be up to winning at the first time of asking for their powerful stables.
A £20 double on the above two selections at current William Hill odds (5/4 and 13/8) pays £118.13.
All odds were correct at time of posting.