What are the best bets at Haydock and Chester on Saturday?
There is plenty of competitive action this afternoon and, in the hope of putting you onto a winner or two, here are my thoughts on the seven races being shown live on Channel 4.
14:00 Haydock – 25 Free Bet At 188bet.co.uk Handicap, 1m
It might be worth chancing Pam Sly’s GHINIA in this competitive handicap at a value 12/1 with Sky Bet. She showed progressive form in the second half of last season, including when finishing runner-up in another class 3 at this track last July, and she may have improved again judging by her fine second at Nottingham on her reappearance. An out-and-out miler who is proven on the forecast ‘good to soft’ ground, she looks sure to be in the mix under Adam Kirby, who has a healthy 19% strike rate on the stable runners.
Hugo Palmer’s Strong Steps is feared most after a couple of career-best efforts in decent handicaps this season following a winter gelding operation. Bought as a lead horse for 2000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold, he should be able to find one of these off his current mark and has the assistance of Frankie Dettori this afternoon.
14:15 Chester – Betway Fillies’ Handicap, 6f18y
Justice Angel is the only course winner in the line-up, that success coming at the May meeting earlier this month, and she’s entitled to plenty of respect on that score alone. However, she’s up 6lb here and the fifth horse, Alsaaden, is weighted to turn the tables and will strip fitter with that run under her belt. It should be close between them but both might struggle to give weight to Richard Fahey’s lightly-raced GIDDY.
A winner over 5f at Beverley on her racecourse debut last August, she showed she had trained on when going down by a head to a progressive sort over this trip at Ripon 13 days ago, despite not getting a clear run, and granted normal improvement she will be hard to beat here. Stall five is perhaps wider than ideal but it’s not enough to desert her at bet365’s 11/4.
14:35 Haydock – 188bet.co.uk Stakes (Registered As The Pinnacle Stakes) (Fillies’ Group 3), 1m3f200y
The John Gosden-trained Journey improved out of all recognition last season (38lb officially) and she may not have finished yet judging by her reappearance third at York, where she perhaps paid the price for running a little too free early, only losing second close home. She has a Group 1 entry later in the season and looks a worthy favourite for this Group 3 at around the 13/8 mark.
However, there are some equally promising fillies/mares in opposition and one who looks overpriced is James Tate’s NAMHROODAH, a 25/1 shot with bet365. She needed the run when finishing a well beaten third behind Journey at Newmarket on ground that was perhaps faster than ideal and has reportedly done very well over the winter, running a nice race at Ayr on her reappearance. That will have brought her on and a career-best effort is very likely this afternoon on ground with some cut in it. Her trainer has made a solid start to 2016 with five turf winners on the board already and it’s worth noting that he picked this filly out as his ‘trainer’s pick’ in a recent Stable Tour. His runners at this track are always worth a second look – he can boast a 21% (4-19) strike rate for a £1 level-stakes profit of £20.58 in the last five seasons – and his booking of Andrea Atzeni (23% strike rate on the stable runners) takes the eye.
With three places up for grabs (and one quarter the odds), she looks well worth an each-way interest to fill one of those and, for further insurance, combining her in a dual forecast with Journey makes plenty of sense too.
14:50 Chester – Betway Handicap, 7f122y
Predominance ran better than his final finishing position of 12th (of 26) at Ascot last time would suggest and he was a taking winner at Haydock previously. It’s easy to see why he’s favourite here, but I’d rather take a chance on OCEAN TEMPEST at Hills’ 12/1. The winner of the 2014 Lincoln, he’s dropped back down to a mark of 95, which is a whopping 20lb lower than his last winning one, and John Ryan’s gelding is defending an unbeaten record of three from three at this track, with two of the wins coming over this extended 7f track. He has a great draw in stall two to boot and rates cracking each-way value.
The Godolphin runner, Best Of Times, is a general second favourite, but he’s likely to need his first run back, given he needs plenty of work to get fit (I’m using a Stable Tour as a source), and a bigger danger may be recent Ayr winner Al Khan.
15:10 Haydock – Timeform Jury Stakes (Registered As The John Of Gaunt Stakes) (Group 3), 7f
It could be worth concentrating on the two top-rated runners, Hugo Palmer’s Home Of The Brave and the David O’Meara-trained SO BELOVED, who is rated 2lb inferior. Both are proven winners at this level and were taking winners on their reappearance, but the ground could be the deciding factor here.
Home Of The Brave is rated a fast-growing horse by his trainer, though he does act on a slower surface and it didn’t stop him winning on ‘good to soft’ at Leicester last month (he bossed that race from the front). The O’Meara runner on the other hand doesn’t seem so ground dependant and it was hard not to be impressed by the way he put six rivals to the sword in a Listed contest over track and trip 21 days ago, suggesting he’s still improving at the age of six. That effort and the fact he’s a couple of points bigger in the betting earns him the vote at Betfred’s 5/1.
15:25 Chester – Champions League Final Betting At Betway Handicap, 1m5f89y
Mark Johnston’s Yorkbidding has worked his way back to form, running a close second over 1m4f at York last, and he stays this far. However, he’s still 10lb higher than the last time he won and TRENDSETTER (6/1 Sky Bet) is preferred. John Quinn’s charge won this race last year off just a 3lb lower mark and looks to have been trained with a repeat in mind, with his third behind the reopposing Indira over an inadequate trip at the May meeting here an ideal prep. That was his first run since slipping up in a handicap hurdle at Cheltenham last November and, with that run under his belt and over this longer trip, he can retain his crown.
The hat-trick seeking Sir Chauvelin is respected most of the rest and, while up another 8lb for his latest success, he should make a bold bid.
15:45 Haydock – 188Bet Sandy Lane Stakes (Group 2), 6f
Hugo Palmer’s Gifted Master is going for a six-timer and, having being considered a 7f horse at the start of the season with the Jersey Stakes over that trip a nominated target, he has done plenty to dispel that notion by winning twice over today’s trip this spring. He’s now under consideration for the 6f Commonwealth Cup, for which he’s a short as 5/1, and a convincing win here might see him see him displace Acapulco as favourite. However, you can pick holes in his form as Waterloo Bridge, his only serious rival at the Craven meeting, ran well below form, and the horse he beat at Ascot last time, Dream Dubai, was beaten out of sight at Newbury on his next start. That makes him opposable at just 13/8 for a race that is deeper than the betting suggests.
Mark Johnston’s Buratino is next in the betting and he’s a fascinating runner now dropping back to this trip after appearing not to stay in the 2000 Guineas on his reappearance. However, he was in trouble well before the two-furlong pole on that occasion and there’s a chance he hasn’t trained on after what was a brilliant juvenile campaign. He’d also want the ground to be faster than he’s going to get here.
Cut in the ground is just what LA RIOJA needs, on the other hand, and Henry Candy’s filly may well be up to winning this in receipt the sex allowance. She looked potentially top class when comfortably winning her last two starts last season over this trip, including a Group 3 at Salisbury, and has reportedly thrived over the winter and in her work of late. She looks an out-and-out sprinter, which might not apply to the favourite, and with conditions very much in her favour she makes plenty of appeal at bet365’s 6/1. I’d be even more confident if her stable was in better form – just the one winner on turf to date – but I’m not going to let that put me off her.
Fancy some free bets? Back a winner at 4/1 or bigger in any of the above races with bet365 and they will give you a free bet to the same stake (up to £50 per customer per race) on the next race shown live on Channel 4.
Good luck all!