My Pension Expert Handicap Chase
The formidable partnership of Henderson and Jacob team up with the French import Janika. He was a four-time winner in his native country and now makes his British debut. He has been gelded since his last run and could just be anything.
Paul Nicholls is responsible for another French import in this but his Magic Saint is only a four-year-old. He was well beaten on seasonal/British debut at Haydock last month but that was his first start in 220 days so there should be much more to come and he is undoubtedly an interesting runner.
De Dollar Man has been slightly disappointing in his recent starts, having shown so much potential over hurdles and early on as a novice chaser. That being said he seems to be on a workable mark and if he can reproduce the form he showed to finish ninth in a Neptune, then he should go close.
Hell’s Kitchen has always been highly taught of but as of yet hasn’t really shown it on the track. He was well-fancied at Aintree recently and although not disgraced he still finished some forty lengths behind the winner War Sound. I’m sure he will once again have his supporters he’s beginning to get costly to follow.
Selection: Magic Saint
JLT Hurdle Long Walk
This year’s renewal sees the last two winners, Unowhatimeanharry(2016) and Sam Spinner(2017) go head to head in what promises to be an absolute thriller
Unowhatimeanharry showed he retained plenty of ability when proving too good for Clyne in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury when last seen. The former Albert Bartlett winner will prove tough to beat and looks the one to side with.
Jedd O’Keeffe’s Sam Spinner had an incredible season last year and the highlight came when beating L’Ami Serge in this twelve months ago. He was well beaten when unseating Joe Colliver behind Uknowhatimeanharry in the Long Distance Hurdle but if bouncing back to form then he will give a bold showing for back-to-back victories.
Call Me Lord is the young pretender in the staying division and showed much improvement when upped in trip in the Select Hurdle at Sandown last season. That was the last time we saw Nicky Henderson’s five-year-old and he may have enough potential to improve past the old guard.
Others to consider include Agrapart and the improving Paisley Park.
Selection: Call Me Lord
Garrard Silver Cup
It could be a very good day for Daryl Jacob and he partners Full Glass in this, who came from France with a big reputation but has yet to win in two starts on British soil. That being said he has shown some smart form and he must hold leading claims of first British success.
Gold Present heads the market in his bid to land back-to-back victories in the contest. He races off only a five-pound higher mark than last year’s win and showed he retained plenty gusto when finishing third behind leading King George fancy Politologue in the 1965 Chase most recently.
Otago Trail seems to appreciate soft ground and a trip, which he looks sure to get here. He ran well last season behind Bristol De Mai in the Peter Marsh Chase and went close behind Lake View Lad in much talked about Rehearsal Chase when last seen. He will find life a little more difficult off a career-high mark of 154 but he looks sure to run his race.
Others of note include Benatar and Thomas Patrick.
Selection: Full Glass
This valuable handicap hurdle has attracted some very classy individuals including the likes of recent winner Man Of Plenty, Irish-raider Toronado Watch and the young pretender Lisp.
Of those, Toronado Watch has a rather unorthodox campaign, having finished second in the American Grand National Hurdle behind Jury Duty at Fair Hills. He followed this up with a fine fifth in a good handicap at Fairyhouse behind the very well handicapped Wonder Laish. There may not be much improvement left in him but he should run well.
Alan King’s Lisp has yet to be out of the first three when standing up over hurdles. He finished second in a listed event at Newbury at the start of the month and if he continues to progress then he may hold onto his enviable record.
Fiesole makes his first start for up and coming trainer Olly Murphy having previously been trained in Ireland by Eion Doyle. He was an easy winner at Tipperary when last seen and if he can improve like many others that join the stable than he may make his stable debut a winning one.
Jolly’s Cracked It heads the weights following a runaway victory at Ascot most recently. This was only the lightly raced geldings second start in over 1000 days following some obvious setbacks. He now races off a career-high mark but there could be much more to come from Harry Fry’s inmate.
Smarkets Handicap Hurdle
This race kicks off proceedings for ITV viewers at Haydock and the pick of the runners is the Donald McCain trained Chti Balko. He races of a career-high mark of 147 following two commendable efforts this season when conditions were far from ideal. Donald McCain obviously thinks plenty of Chti Balko having run him in a Grade 1 as a novice and with the softer underfoot conditions coupled with him running at his favoured Haydock Park, a big run looks assured.
Spirit Of Kayf is a very intriguing runner here as he makes his first racecourse appearance in 756 days. Prior to this layoff, he had some very smart form to his name including running in the 2016 renewal of the Champion Bumper. Since that run, he began a campaign over hurdles where he was unbeaten when standing up. There have obviously been some issues but if he retains the ability he showed previously then he should run well.
Ballymoy lost his unbeaten record since a wind-op at Newbury on his latest start but it was still a fine effort in defeat. He may be able to regain the winning thread here and should go close.
Selection: Chti Balko
Tommy Whittle Chase
Donald McCain took this contest back in 2007 with Cloudy Lane. The same connections are represented by Testify this season and the lightly raced seven-year-old was a Grade 2 winner last season at Haydock. He ran disappointingly on seasonal debut in the Rehearsal Chase on the back of a wind surgery but he may have needed this and off a three-pound lower mark he may be on a lenient mark.
Kimberlite Candy heads the market and has been a much-improved horse since tackling the longer distances and was a snug winner on seasonal debut at Ayr. However, I think a mark of 138 may be beyond him and he looks booked for a place at best.
Sharp Response is on a real upward curve this season and has risen a total of eleven pounds for a nine-length victory at Carlisle and two very credible efforts in the BetVictor Chase at Cheltenham and the Rehearsal Chase where he was only beaten by four lengths by Lake View Lad. I think he may find this trip a bit on the sharp side and is a horse to follow when back up in trip.
The front-running Valadom turns his attention back to chasing having been a late recruit to the hurdling division in recent times. He was a beaten favourite at Bangor last week and although he looks sure to run well, he may struggle to win it.