A field of twelve now go to post for the fourth race of the day at Haydock on Saturday, live on ITV. See our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: With our original selection Aleef now sadly a non runner, HOLMESWOOD looks set to add to his hat-trick of victiories. The five furlong trip has been the making of Michale Dods three-year old and expect him to take all the beating again this afternoon.
1 GREEN DOOR – Finished third in a tough handicap at Glorious Goodwood in August but he’s now two pounds higher after a fourth at Tipperary in Listed company. The form of that race looks nothing special and he looks vulnerable off top weight, though he will handle the softer conditions which is a plus. He’s an each way player but should be beaten by a few of these.
2 COPPER KNIGHT – Has developed into a useful handicapper for Tim Easterby this season, with his third at Listed level in June a standout performance from him in the context of this race. He was last seen when disappointing at York in the race won by Holmeswood but he’s now two pounds lower which is positive. Truly soft ground is a question mark, but if handling it he looks sure to make his presence felt for the placings.
3 BOOM THE GROOM – Backed into 11/4 favourite when unseating his rider after stumbling out of the stalls at Epsom two weeks ago, adding to the string of disappointing performances this season. He’s now five pounds below his last winning mark so he’s very well treated but the ground has gone completely against him here and the best he can hope for is placings under Robert Winston.
4 HOLMESWOOD – The drop to five furlongs has worked brilliantly for this three year old who has won all three of his starts at this trip, dead-heating in a big field handicap at York two weeks ago. He’s now five pounds higher but there is likely more to come from him, though the softer ground does add a question mark to his claims. Michael Dods remains in the winners and he should be in their swinging late on.
5 REFLEKTOR – Won three starts ago at Chester when making use of a good position to surge into the lead late on and he was a well backed 11/4 favourite at the same venue on his latest start. He failed to justify favouritism that day, failing to make use of a good draw and eased when his chance had gone. He’s still four pounds above his last winning mark which is concerning but he is suited by softer ground, so couldn’t be discounted for placings.
6 ALEEF (NON RUNNER) – Won three starts ago at Newmarket in October, making all despite being keen in the early stages and he backed it up with a good second at Chelmsford in November, with that form working out well. He was well backed into 10/3 favouritism on his belated seasonal debut at Ripon five days ago, clearly needing the run when finishing last. He is clearly capable of much better and with cut in the ground ideal, he can return to winning ways as the best of him is likely yet to come.
7 ORVAR – Has threatened to take a prize like this for Robert Cowell but he’s not the most straightforward of horses, often flattering to deceive as he did at Bath on his latest start. He was ridden quite some way out and kept on at the one pace, never looking like he was going to threaten the judge. He is a pound lower here and he may come good at some stage for Robert Cowell, but he couldn’t be backed with much confidence at present.
8 MONSIEUR JOE – Ten year old veteran who has been regressing on recent starts for Paul Midgley, last seen seven days ago at Sandown where he was ninth of ten, toiling from two furlongs out. He’s three pounds lower here but his best days are behind him now and although he’ll handle conditions, he’s best watched at this level.
9 DISTANT PAST – Finished sixth in this race two years ago and he’s five pound lower this time around, last seen at Hamilton where he was a good second, only headed in the final stride. That said, the run came in Class 4 company and he now steps up into Class 2 again. with his previous efforts in this grade this year not helping his case. Conditions will be fine but he’s set for a minor role in this.
10 SOIE D’LEAU – Won this race off three pounds higher on softer ground last year, but he’s been disappointing this season and comes here needing to bounce back. He was always towards the rear when bitterly disappointing at Chester on his latest start and although he does have conditions to suit, it’s hard to be confident that he’ll put his best foot forward. Silvestre De Sousa takes over but you’ll need to be brave to back him.
11 CONFESSIONAL – Won this race back in 2010 and 2013 for Tim Easterby, finishing second in this race twelve months ago. He arrives this year in decent enough form, finishing third at Chester two starts ago before a midfield finish at the same venue seven days ago. He’s on the same mark here and although he has each way claims if building on that, he looks vulnerable to younger legs for win purposes.
12 MAYLEAF SHINE – Finished second on softer ground two starts ago at Musselburgh, only beaten a head and she wasn’t disgraced when fifth behind Holmeswood two weeks ago off one pound higher. A return to softer ground looks ideal and she looks a solid each way contender for an in form yard, though with her record as it is currently, she looks vulnerable for win purposes.
13 MIDNIGHT MALIBU – In form filly for Tim Easterby who arrives here on the back of a good win at Epsom two weeks ago, making all in good style and never looking in any danger. She’s up three pounds which is fair but the biggest worry comes from the fact that she’s only won on good or faster, though she has gone close on softer ground in the past. She is an each way contender if managing to ping out and lead, but the ground may just bog her down in the closing stages.