Though he was beaten off 3lb lower at Windsor just 12 days ago Hanseatic (2:25) is given another chance to build on the promise he showed when winning on his belated racecourse debut at Lingfield last November.
John Gosden’s Galileo colt was beaten by a battle-hardened and race-fit sort in Duke Of Clarence and should be suited by the long straight at Haydock. The slightly longer trip ought to help him too and, with William Buick stating in his AtTheRaces column that any rain would aid his chances, the overnight forecast looks in his favour.
He was trading at a general 5/4 overnight, while the opening handicap hurdle on this tremendous mixed card looks extremely wide open, with the bookmakers going 8/1 the field.
Dual Aintree winner Battle Group and the lightly-raced Darley Sun head the market and, while both have plenty of ability, neither is straightforward. The former is up 15lbs for his brace at the Grand National meeting, while the latter gained his first success since the 2009 Cesarewitch at Stratford recently.
The big field will suit him in my opinion and he is sure to come there travelling strongly, so is very much one to note, but preference is for another novice Whisky Yankee (1:50) who was available at 14/1 last night with Boylesports and Hills.
Paul Nicholls’ six-year-old hails from the family of Denman and ought to relish the step up to 3m, though he appears to need decent ground, so he is only worth supporting if the Merseyside track avoids some of the rain that is forecast.
If the weather is kind to the track, he looks capable of going close off his low-weight and with Harry Derham claiming a valuable 5lbs. Twice a winner at Ffos Las recently, he remains a lovely long-term prospect and arrives here fresher and much less exposed than many of today’s rivals.
Another to note in a wide-open affair is Irish raider Jetson, who goes on any ground and is at the top of his game at present, having finished placed at both Cheltenham and Aintree. Up 6lbs since the Festival, he is another who could go well if not feeling the effects of a long hard season.
Nicholls and Derham hold each-way claims in the Swinton Hurdle, too, with the quirky Mr Mole, who should be suited by the return to a flat track and with the aid of a rail all the way to the line.
He has gone up 4lbs for his most recent defeat at Cheltenham, however, so the final selection of the day comes from Punchestown, where Andrew Lynch has a trio of nice rides for his boss, the Potts’ and Henry De Bromhead.
He starts off aboard expensive purchase Grand Jesture in the opening maiden hurdle and he ran better than the bare result would suggest in a bumper at the Festival here just 16 days ago.
This doesn’t look a bad contest, however, with Eligible also of interest for Noel Meade and the beginners’ chase in which he rides Sizing Rio is another contest to note with the future in mind; there are sure to be plenty of future winners lining up, with Willie Mullins saddling last year’s Neptune second Felix Yonger after a year off.
That leaves Absolutelyfantastic (3:45) as his best chance on the card and he looks worth each-way support against market leader Toostrong in the 2m handicap chase.
The six-year-old relishes decent ground and, after winning over fences on his second start, he was sent off favourite to beat Baily Green at Roscommon in June. He has run well on both the Flat and over hurdles of late and, with the stable in fine form, he looks sure to run a big race on his return to chasing.
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Last Year’s Book Results – Leading Prospects:
- SPRINTER SACRE – Unbeaten – winner at Aintree & Cheltenham
- SIMONSIG – Winner at Aintree & Cheltenham
- CINDERS AND ASHES – 10/1 winner of Supreme Novices Hurdle
- BOBS WORTH – 9/2 winner of the RSA Chase
- MENORAH & SILVINIACO CONTI – Both Aintree Winners
- SIR DES CHAMPS – Unbeaten inc 3/1 Jewson Cheltenham Winner
- FINGAL BAY – Won 4 times inc Challow Hurdle
- RAYA STAR – 10/3 winner at Wetherby, 12/1 Ladbroke Hurdle winner, 15/2 Scottish Champion Hurdle winner
- AMBION WOOD – 14/1 EBF Final Sandown winner
- CHAMPION COURT – 6/1 G2 Dipper Novices Chase winner
- PALACE JESTER – 14/1 winner at FFos Las
- SWINCOMBE FLAME – Hat-trick winner inc Lanzarote Hurdle at 9/2
- TEAFOR THREE – 5/1 NH Cheltenham Chase winner (Manifesto Novices’ Chase)