Race Time: 2.05pm Meeting: Haydock Day: Saturday 19th December 2015 Full Race Name: nationwidevehiclecontracts.co.uk Handicap Hurdle Class Two
The first thing we note here is the predicted heavy going so although the trip my be relatively short, we suspect horses with a little more stamina than that will come to the fore once they get anywhere near to the finishing line. Plenty of interesting options leap off the page in our view, and none more so than the Sue Smith trained De Boitron (14/1) who is still in good heart at the veteran age of eleven. Third to Baby King at Haydock last time out when running on over the minimum trip, he has won off ratings as high as 138 over fences yet gets in off of just 125 over the smaller obstacles today, leaving him as an intriguing each way possibility even if he only has the one solitary hurdle win to his name from Pau back in his native France in December 2007!
Searching out well-handicapped options also leads us very much to the Jonjo O’Neill trained Mondragon (3/1) who is rated 128 today which seems pretty generous. Still a novice, last time out saw him take care of Laurium at this sort of trip quite comfortably, with a rating of 124 about right for that performance. However, we also had the more consistent 124 rated Faithful Mount sixteen lengths behind which, when taking the weights in to account, would give Mondragon a theoretical mark of 135 or so which is why we feel he could be well handicapped today. Sadly, these things invariably have a negative side, and the long lay off from early May to this afternoon has to be an issue, without which we would be an awful lot happier about suggesting him as a bet this Saturday afternoon.
Moving on, and Three Faces West (7/2) arrives here with a three wins from four races record – assuming you include a point to point at Largy in Ireland as a starting point. Moved to the professional care of Donald McCain, he was fourth in an Ayr maiden before winning at Ayr, Carlisle, and Haydock, the last two at this sort of distance, though all in novice company. Although the original stable plan was to go chasing he has now changed stables all the way south to Somerset and Philip Hobbs, who has entered him here over the smaller obstacles, but with the option to go novice chasing shortly should he fail to have the attributes of a handicap hurdler.
For our last two options it’s sort of baby time with Baby King (5/1) representing the Tom George yard next on our mini list. A lightly raced six year old, he has only visited the track the seven times, winning the first and last of those, with a narrow victory here over the minimum trip on his return last month the obvious highlight. He stayed on very strongly that day so should be well suited to the extra quarter mile plus he faces today, and with the stable in decent enough form of late he must have place chances at a minimum.
Baby Bach (8/1) is the other youngster we have an interest in as he is sent over from Ireland by the Crawford yard in the hunt for British prize money. They quite like sending him over the Irish Sea with three runs at Ayr and one at Perth already, though the son of Bach (how novel) was most impressive last time out at Newcastle when hacking up in a maiden hurdle. That makes our life tough as it was a poor race but put to bed impressively, yet his rating of 125 does look potentially pretty generous and he could yet be well in here.