Haydock Saturday

1.50 Double Daily Rewards With Betfair Graduation Chase 2m 5f 127yds

Bravemansgame is just about the best of these, but his reputation precedes him with the result that he’s always under-priced when turning out, and while he may win, there is value in opposing him.

It’s hard to fancy Alnadam unless he’s handed an easy lead, and that would be a surprise as he’s owned by Brian Drew, who has a half-share in the favourite, who also races handily. They won’t want to cut each other’s throats, and it may be that Alnadam is taken back for that reason.

In that scenario, I’d hope Danny McMenamin on Pay The Piper would try to ensure the favourite is not unpestered in front, as Itchy Feet is invariably played for a turn of foot, and won’t be going forward when the tapes rise.

Pay The Piper has taken really well to fences, even accounting for his sole win coming in what was effectively a schooling session at Wetherby. He split a pair of talented chasers on his debut at Perth, both of whom have won good races since, and he did so conceding lumps of weight, which shows his ability, and he then travelled best of all only to be worn down on the run-in when second to Fiddlerontheroof in the Colin Parker Memorial.


I’ve no doubt at all that Pay The Piper has achieved much more in his short chasing career than Bravemansgame has, and he’s now won on all types of going despite having only seven starts under rules to his name. There is more to come from Ann Hamilton’s gelding, and he can win this in receipt of weight from all his rivals.

2.25 Betfair Exchange Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 3m 58yds

The most striking aspect of this Grade 3 handicap (previously the Fixed Brush Handicap) is that most of the field have shown their best form on soft or heavy ground, and underfoot conditions are sure to be closer to good here, even with Haydock’s history of incomprehensible going descriptions.

On winter ground, this would be a really difficult handicap to solve, but filtering the form based on expected ground conditions raises plenty of questions, and there is a chance that this will turn into a test of speed, which will certainly suit Orby’s Legend, who landed the competitive Silver Trophy at Chepstow last month on quick ground, and who is the least exposed of these as he steps up in trip from two miles, three and a half furlongs.


I don’t think I’d fancy his chances of staying a well-run three miles in the mud, but on good ground around Haydock’s tight turns? That’s a different matter altogether, and I think he can blind his rivals for speed as long as the ground rides on top.

Of the others, Didtheyleaveuoutto proved he stays this trip at Newbury last time, and will always be at his best when able to deliver a late challenge on decent ground. He’s also shortlisted, and Ask Dillon is another who is entitled to maximum respect having won a big field handicap over this trip at Cheltenham in April on good ground. He hated chasing when tried next time, and was unsuited by the tempo of the West Yorkshire Hurdle on his return.

The handicapper has already dropped him back to his winning mark, and he has the assistance of Peter Kavanagh, who has won on both rides for Fergal O’Brien.

3.00 Betfair Chase (Grade 1) (Registered As The Lancashire Chase) 3m 1f 125yds

I really can’t summon up much enthusiasm for most of the runners in the Betfair Chase – at least under these conditions, and while Bristol De Mai seems sure to put his heart into his bid for a fourth win in the race, he looks set to play second fiddle to A Plus Tard, who looks head and shoulders above this opposition on the form he showed over three miles-plus last term.

It’s been pointed out that he’s yet to win on his reappearance, but he’s come back over two miles for the past two years, and for once he’ll be coming back in a race which has been his main pre-Christmas target.

Sounder surface

A Plus Tard copes well with soft ground, but he has that rare combination of speed and stamina which is best showcased on a sounder surface.

He was held up when winning the Savills Chase and finishing second in the Gold Cup last term, but is more than capable of sitting on the pace if required, and the bottom line is that it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which he will be compromised.

Ascot Saturday

2.05 Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase (Grade 2) 2m 5f 8yds

There is potential for the 1965 Chase (which celebrates the opening of the jumps track at Ascot) to become very messy, with three apparent front runners in a small field, and I don’t think it’s a race to approach with maximum confidence.

Going through the card the first time, I managed to rule them all out, so I’ve had to go back in more forgiving mood, and I am taking a swing at the outsider.

I’ve noticed that when a race looks like having a strongly contested pace, the result is often that some jockeys deliberately change tactics to avoid such a scenario, and it’s certainly true that riders are more likely to take notice of the proliferated use of pace maps to help them.

As such, I wonder whether Rex Dingle and Sam Twiston-Davies will be more circumspect on the penalised pair Dashel Drasher and Master Tommytucker rather than get into a speed duel.


If so, they might be happy to let the unconsidered Pistol Whipped take the field along, and if he gets into a rhythm on good ground, he might prove hard to catch.

Of course, there is a chance that all three will press on, or that Nico will be the one to take back, but whereas Dashel Drasher and Master Tommytucker have shown their best chase form on soft ground, Pistol Whipped is best on summer turf, and his lifetime record on good ground reads 10112, with his latest second when worn down on the line at Uttoxeter when conceding 18lb to Francky Du Berlais, who then went on to win the Summer Plate at Market Rasen.

That form is smart, and while Pistol Whipped is not a winter horse, keeping him for this looks like it could pay dividends given the unusually dry autumn.

2.40 Coral Hurdle (Registered As The Ascot Hurdle) (Grade 2) 2m 3f 58yds

Buzz has been bandied around as a Stayers’ Hurdle contender, and while I’m not sold on that notion – the idea that a Cesarewitch winner is sure to stay three miles has been shown to be folly in the past – he does look to have an ideal opportunity here, with the combination of track and trip giving him outstanding claims.

He showed a tendency to hang when going left-handed last season, and he’s been unplaced in eight of a dozen lifetime starts going that way around.

When racing on a right-handed track, however, Buzz is almost always at his best, and his form reads 12112314121 in such circumstances. He was better than ever when winning at Newmarket last time, and he should prove too good for his rivals here.

I’d fancy him to beat Goshen and Song For Someone at level weights over this track and trip, and he gets a generous 6lb from both of those here, making him hard to oppose.

3.15 Gerard Bertrand Hurst Park Handicap Chase 2m 167yds

Sully D’Oc has been underestimated in this contest based on a modest run over course and distance last time on ground too soft for him. He is best judged, not on that effort behind Amoola Gold and Monsieur Lecoq, but on his runs on yielding ground at Aintree and Punchestown in the spring.

His victory in a Grade B handicap chase at the latter track was a career-best effort, and he should be closer to his peak after that introduction here last month when he wasn’t given a hard time, unlike the pair who fought out a desperate finish that day.


Pay The Piper 1.50 Haydock – 2pts win @11/2 (Hills, BetVictor, 888Sport)

Orby’s Legend 2.25 Haydock – 2pts win @ 13/2 (Bet365, BetVictor)

A Plus Tard 3.00 Haydock – 4pts win @ 13/8 (Hills)

Pistol Whipped 2.05 Ascot – 1pt win @ 14/1 (Bet365, 12/1 general)

Sully D’Oc 3.15 Ascot – 1pt win @ 10/1 (Bet365)


Rory tipped two Cheltenham winners last week, Third Time Lucki @ 2/5 and Gowel Road @ 13/2