After what feels like a period of three months non-stop rain, the ground is unsurprisingly very testing at racecourses across the UK.
The ITV Cameras are live at Ascot and Haydock this weekend at which the ground is currently heavy. Here are eight mudlarks who will relish the testing conditions. Be sure to make use of all our tips and analysis as we build towards the King George on Boxing Day, for which our selection is live on site.
The eight-year-old won a heavy ground novice event in 2016 by fifteen lengths when trained by Alan King. Things haven’t entirely gone to plan since then, but he bounced back from an underwhelming run of form to finish third at 66/1 on heavy ground over two-miles-three at Haydock last December.
Dropped back to two-miles, he again outrun his odds of 14/1 when scoring on heavy at Newcastle in March. He’s been nudged up three pounds for that success and his conditional rider claims eight pounds. Provided he’s ready to go after a break, he’s a strong contender.
Anthony Honeyball’s mare has won both her starts on heavy ground by a combined aggregate of fifty-one lengths. She put forty lengths between herself and the field in a maiden in November and was no less impressive when defying a mark of 122 on handicap debut.
This Listed contest represents a step up in class, however she’s only going in one direction. With both her yard and her jockey Rex Dingle amongst the winners, and with figures suggesting she’s the one to beat, she has strong claims of completing a hat-trick.
Raced five times on heavy ground, Joke Dancer has scored on three occasions, two of which have come at Haydock. He ran a creditable race on heavy on his reappearance, just finding two-miles-three too far when third to Chti Balko.
He was struggling when falling on chase debut, but he’s sure to have learnt plenty from that experience. On a slower surface today, an each way price could look good value for the six-year-old who is back on his last winning mark and enjoys his racing on both a testing surface and at the Merseyside venue.
The heavier the better for David Pipe’s charge who has won all three starts on heavy ground. He landed a novice hurdle back in 2016 before two wins on soft over fences. His last two wins have come on heavy, including when landing this race last year.
He’s five pounds higher now but has shaped with promise in both runs this term on unsuitably quick ground. Outpaced in the Ladbrokes Trophy when last seen, he stayed on stoutly to finish a far from disgraced eleventh.
The final contest on the card at Haydock looks a one-horse race. Donald McCain’s admirable Chti Balko put ten lengths between himself and the field at Bangor on his second run after a wind operation when last seen.
That was his third win on heavy ground, one of which came at this venue in 2017. He finished third from a six pound higher mark in this race last year, so he’s feasibly treated and gets his ground. He should be tough to beat.
Kim Bailey’s lightly raced gelding won his first two starts on heavy ground. A twenty length demolition job at Newbury in 2017 was followed by a facile win in a Haydock Novice Grade Two.
He was sent off just 12/1 for the 2018 Supreme, a step he found too far. He’s returned to form over fences this year however, placed behind useful rivals twice before bolting up at Hereford. From a workable mark of 140, he has a great chance in the two-miles-three handicap.
Dual Grade One winner L’Ami Serge has been off the track since an underwhelming effort at Auteuil in May 2018. The break is of no concern however. The Henderson yard always get theirs ready and their gelding has form figures of 21122 on his return from breaks of 100 days or more.
He’s raced twice on heavy ground, winning a Plumpton novice chase by twenty-seven lengths and a similar race at Wetherby by six. His best RPR came over track and trip when second to Sam Spinner in this race in 2017. The nine-year-old is an interesting each-way bet against Paisley Park in the Long Walk Hurdle.
Venetia Williams is well known for her success with handicap chasers, particularly on testing ground. Her Yalltari is understandably the favourite for a competitive handicap at Ascot over three-miles.
He’s been off the track for over 300 days, but the yard are flying. Furthermore, he won twice over hurdles in January 2018 before returning from a similar absence to finish second on a similarly testing surface on chase debut. Third in a Grade Two when last seen, he has both the class and the stamina to take this Listed affair.