Our racing expert marks your card for Wednesday's jumps action at Haydock.
Connections of Just Georgie spurned what looked a winning opportunity at Wetherby on Tuesday to wait for the 2m4f handicap chase on today’s card, and the eight-year-old gelding could well build on his first chase win last time out. However, he needs to come on again having been raised 8lb and that might leave him vulnerable in what is a more competitive contest.
You can make a case for any of his five rivals but the one that makes most appeal is Donald McCain’s lightly-raced HILLS OF DUBAI. Whilst he too is up in grade, the nine-year-old is 2-2 since going over fences (both on heavy) and is up just 2lb for his latest success over a similar trip to today’s at Ayr. A big imposing sort who had quite a reputation in point-to-points, he may well be capable of rating higher still and gets in here off joint-bottom weight.
DOC CARVER appeared to struggle on good ground when finishing a well beaten fourth at Plumpton last time and is worth another chance in the 2m2f novices’ handicap hurdle with conditions more in his favour. The Henry Oliver-trained four-year-old has twice this season shown himself to be fully effective on a deep surface, finishing a half length runner-up in a Bangor novice three starts back and then looking all over the winner when falling three out at Towcester on his next outing.
Given his Bangor conqueror is now rated 129, he looks well treated on a mark of 119 and the drop back into class 4 company could be just what he needs to get the win he deserves. He’s a fair price too at 8/1 in what is an open contest.
I doubt there is a better handicapped runner in the 2m7f veterans’ handicap chase than Venetia Williams’ Katenko, who is lining up off a mark of 119 having been rated as high as 157 at his peak. However, the now 12 year-old is returning after a 382-day absence and he’s always needed a run or two in the past to reach peak fitness. With his stable also struggling for winners, he’s reluctantly passed over.
Instead, I’m going to take a chance on SOLID STRIKE in the hope he wasn’t flattered by his third in a Catterick novice chase 14 days ago. The winner Cracking Find is a horse on the up and the runner-up is rated 137, so it was to his credit he finished just four and a half lengths behind the winner, with a similar gap back to the 139-rated fourth. Indeed, if you take that form literally (?) he is thrown in here off a mark of 114, with Ross Chapman taking a further 3lb off.
A prolific winner in point-to-points and with very few miles on the clock for a ten-year-old, he looks well worth chancing now taking on mostly older and more exposed rivals. And clearly I’m not the only one to spot his appeal as he’s already been clipped a couple of points (opened at 11/1) whilst I’ve been writing this piece.
All odds were correct at time of posting.