*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change
Grade 2 novice hurdle winner ADRIMEL bolted up in a novice chase here in December and on that evidence holds appealing claims in this first handicap. Shaman Du Berlais and Keep Rolling arrive on the back of good runs, with the consistent Shaman Du Berlais feared most.
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It is hard to oppose PORTICELLO who had serious form even before he won a Grade 1 at Chepstow by eight and a half lengths. That was on soft ground and he races off level weights with today’s four rivals who have won lesser contests. As something of an unknown quantity in Britain, Tanganyika is feared most on her first outing for Venetia Williams, although it’s possible that the fitting of a hood just might transform the prospects of Skycutter who was headstrong at the front when Porticello won that Grade 1.
Thomas Darby and Molly Ollys Wishes have leading form claims having already landed Grade 2 prizes this season, and there can be optimism they’ll handle conditions. However, a couple of the others may be better suited by a heavy-ground slog around Haydock, and TOP VILLE BEN is a major player if tapping back into the ability shown in staying chases a few seasons ago. He travelled well when winning a conditions hurdle at Lingfield last time and gets the nod ahead of Third Wind, who won this last year.
This isn’t an easy race in which to whittle down the contenders, testing ground at Haydock has brought out the best in several of them. Top of that list is three-time Grade 1 Betfair Chase winner BRISTOL DE MAI (nap), who was pulled up in that race this season but bounced back with a creditable third at Lingfield last time. Better could have been expected from Lord Du Mesnil in the Peter Marsh here last month but he has an excellent record at Haydock otherwise and is feared most in his bid to land back-to-back runnings. Sam Brown, Blaklion and Enqarde also ran cracking races here last time out, while last season’s Welsh National winner Secret Reprieve retains potential.
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Small Present and Tokyo Getaway have solid claims having finished first and second over C&D four weeks ago but a chance is taken on FOILLAN who was disappointing in that race. The form of his win at Wetherby earlier last month reads well and this unexposed 7yo could get back on track with a big performance. Tamar Bridge also retains potential despite being pulled up last time, and he’s second choice, while Optimise Prime may appreciate the step back up in trip.
Hillcrest is an exciting prospect and staying may well be his game, but this is going to be a gruelling test on his first run beyond 2m5f and he’s going to be a short price. Today’s contest could be tailor-made for ANGLERS CRAG, who looked all about stamina when winning over 2m4f at Leicester on his recent hurdle debut. Hillcrest is feared most, ahead of recent Sandown handicap winner Green Book.
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The Paul Nicholls-trained BOB AND CO won this easily last year and holds stand-out claims, having added the Champion Hunters Chase at Punchestown in April. Aintree Foxhunters’ winner Cousin Pascal could be best of the rest.
*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.
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