Our racing expert has three to back at Haydock this afternoon.
It’s tempting to give Al Qahwa another chance in the 6f handicap on the card after a disappointing run as favourite at York on Saturday. A wide draw away from where the action developed and a strong headwind, which made it harder to make up ground, were probably contributing factors, and he had run a blinder previously when second (of 23) at Ayr. However, the five-year-old often flatters to deceive and given his winning record (2-23), I’m going to look elsewhere.
Mick Channon’s MOBSTA looks a solid alternative as they are calling the ground ‘heavy’ at the time of writing and he can’t have it soft enough. He’s well handicapped too on a mark 19lb lower than his prime rating and just 2lb higher than his last winning mark, which was achieved on heavy ground at Windsor in April. He’s run some solid races in defeat since, including when third (of 16) at Ffos Las (6f, good to soft) when last seen out in August, and has the services of Franny Norton. It’s hard to imagine him not being involved at the finish.
Plenty can be fancied in the 1m handicap and they include Mick Appleby’s progressive three-year-old Jackpot Royale, who is chasing a four-timer. Considering he won with plenty to spare at Newbury last time and that he has won over this far, a further 8lb rise might not be enough to anchor him.
But at bigger odds I prefer the chances of another three-year-old, the Richard Fahey-trained CROWNTHORPE. He was noted plugging on into fifth over course and distance on good to soft last time and today’s conditions, which will place more of an emphasis on stamina, should see him in an even better light. He’s also been dropped a further 3lb since, meaning he’s now 3lb lower than when winning on soft ground at Ripon in April. The application of first-time cheek-pieces is the final piece of the jigsaw and might be just what he needs to get back to winning form.
The closing 7f handicap looks a bit of a lottery but one who could go well at a price is John Quinn’s HERE’S ROCCO. The son of Charm Spirit left his previous two efforts well behind when upped to this trip at Redcar 13 days ago, when he would have finished closer than fifth with a clearer passage. That effort was also on the softest ground he had encountered so far, which is encouraging given today’s conditions, and it also qualified him for a mark (71). That may prove a tad generous and given that he has plenty of stamina in his pedigree – he is a half-brother to a 1m4f winner – he will be finishing better than most.
All odds were correct at time of posting.