Finals Day today at Haydock, with the culmination of the Challenger series of contests, sponsored by Smarkets (no – me neither).
6 races all worth £30,950 to the winner, run over a variety of distances, hurdles and fences.
First off is the Middle Distance Chase Series Final Handicap Chase, which has just the ‘dead’ eight declared, with Crievehill installed as the 9-4 favourite on the back of a 20 length romp at Sandown three weeks ago. The second and third re-oppose today, but even at the revised weights would appear to have limited chances of reversing the result and Crievehill must run well off an eight pound higher mark. Our first job, then, is to place a win bet at the aforesaid 9-4.
Much further down in the price list is the Ian Williams trained Amber Gambler, available at 10-1 and we also suggest an each way bet on this 8-y-o. Completed a four-timer at the start of last year, 3 over fences, before being given a long break, from which it has taken time to recover its form. However, the run in January at Sandown, which qualified the horse for today, was by far its best performance and you can be sure Mr Williams will produce his charge in prime condition.
With no strong opinion on race 2, we move on to the Staying Chase Series Final Handicap at 3.15, which has a field of 10 and our selection here is the Harry Fry trained Behind Time. This 7-y-o put in a much improved performance last time out, when cheek pieces were added, beating the well-handicapped Big River by a comfortable four lengths and, off just 7lbs higher, there is surely more to come. We advise a win bet at the prevailing 4-1 to make Barry Geraghty’s only ride of the day a winning one.
Harry Fry retains our interest in the 3.50 as well, the Mares Hurdle Series Final Handicap Hurdle, in which we expect his Lamanver Odyssey to take all the beating under Noel Fehily. Back to form last time out and with the yard firing again, this 6-y-o should be belted each way at the offered 5-1.
At 4.25 the Stayers Hurdle Series Final Handicap Hurdle takes place, with a field of (ho, ho) 16. Yes, we know there’ll be a non-runner, you know there’ll be a non-runner, so let’s hope our selections don’t come 4th, eh?
This is a wide open event and we go two against the field, each way, with Tara View at 12-1 and Hatchet Jack at 16-1. Time and space preclude explanations, so just get on with it.
The Mares Chase Final, which completes the set, is filed under ‘haven’t a clue’, but, before you go, chuck some each way money on Zerachiel at 15-2 in the 5.35. Just may be a happy ending.
Crievehill 2.05 Haydock win @ 9-4
Amber Gambler 2.05 Haydock e/w @ 12-1 (1/4 odds bet365)
Behind Time 3.15 Haydock win @ 4-1
Lamanver Odyssey 3.50 Haydock e/w @ 5-1 (4 places)
Tara View 4.25 Haydock e/w @ 12-1 (4 places)
Hatchet Jack 4.25 Haydock e/w @ 16-1 (4 places)
Zerachiel 5.35 Haydock e/w @ 15-2