Race Time: 2.00pm Meeting: Haydock Distance: 2m 45yds
Full Race Name: Betfred Membership “Play Your Way” Handicap Class Two
We had to double check if this was on the flat or over hurdles once we saw the two miles plus trip but no, it is on the flat so we are talking about a serious marathon for all participants. Stamina plus handicap often equals Sir Mark Prescott in our book as the master trainer excels when moving his horses slowly up in trip, and he clearly fancies his chances of taking this having entered three at the early stage, though we are delighted to say the booking of Luke Morris suggests William Of Orange (6/1) is first pick. We don’t necessarily think he is any better than the likes of Alcaeus, but he does have a fairly recent run when runner up at Salisbury after getting stopped in his run more than once, running on well over a quarter of a mile less after the race was over. His CV follows the typical Prescott pattern of three runs over inadequate trips as a youngster to get a favourable handicap mark followed by two wins over a mile and three quarts last season, though whether that upsets the handicapper long term is open to question and we are not overly convinced he is well handicapped today unless he can improve further this season. She’s Late (12/1) catches our eye as Jonjo O’Neill sends her back on to the flat after her hurdling campaigning where she won last time out at Warwick when staying on well over two miles and three furlongs. She seems to have improved a few pounds over the winter, which may possibly leave her a little ahead of the handicapper this afternoon, and in a tricky race she could make a place at a big price with George Baker a very early jockey booking.
Totalize (20/1) is of interest as trainer Brian Ellison seems to be after this prize with multiple entries and the son of Authorized could get involved if at his peak. He has won over a mile and three quarters on the flat and two miles on heavy ground over hurdles but not off a rating this high (six pounds more than his highest winning mark), which has to be a serious question mark in what looks like a competitive renewal.
Brian Ellison has another interesting one with Seymour (10/1) who is very lightly raced for a four year old and with room to continue improving. A debut second on the all-weather track at Kempton over a mile and a half, he stepped up on that effort when next seen at the same track with an easy maiden win over the same trip, after which he was promptly sent off hurdling. Wins at Market Rasen and then Wetherby followed (all good so far), before a return to the flat at York when sixth of sixteen over a mile and a half, running on late and never nearer than at the finish. The step up in distance today seems just what he needs and if there is a big surprise he could provide it – sure to be overpriced but not without a decent chance in our book.
To end with, Hughie Morrison is a very shrewd trainer who we keep an eye on at all times, and it looks as though he means business with Nearly Caught (7/1) with William Buick booked to ride. Less than three lengths sixth to Big Easy in the Cesarewich last October, he is clearly a pretty decent animal and runs off the same handicap mark today which seems pretty generous considering, and with a pretty good running on second at Chelmsford over an inadequate trip on his return to blow away the cobwebs, he should be absolutely spot on for the race today.