It’s another excellent afternoon’s racing, with Altior the undoubted star of the show in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot and, while the action there is excellent, that at Haydock isn’t far behind.
The Peter Marsh Chase features, but it is ably backed up by a trio of other Grade Two contests and it’s in the New One Unibet Hurdle, a Champion Hurdle trial, where we begin.
SILVER STREAK (2.40 Haydock) has enjoyed a very productive season to date, winning the Swinton Hurdle here over course and distance before going to Ffos Las in October to land the Welsh Champion Hurdle.
Both of those take a bit of winning and the successes show that he is undoubtedly talented while possessing a nice blend of speed and stamina.
Since the two wins, he has arguably then put up even better performances – in the Greatwood and International Hurdles at Cheltenham.
First up, he saw everyone off bar Nietzsche (who was getting almost two stone and was 3lbs out of the handicap) in the prestigious handicap and then Evan Williams would have been snapping when only Brain Power, returning to hurdles after an aborted chasing career, was the only one to beat him.
What made it worse was that he was giving 4lbs then to a rival officially rated 8lbs superior so the result reads even better in the circumstances.
Quick ground is probably best for this classy six-year-old but he has done plenty of winning on good to soft terrain so today’s underfoot conditions shouldn’t be too much of a hindrance and he is confidently selected.
In the Peter Marsh itself, RED INFANTRY (3.15 Haydock) is still progressing and can take this valuable pot for Tom O’Brien and Ian Williams.
After a fair reappearance at Cheltenham to kick his campaign off, this gutsy stayer came here to Haydock and won well from Bishop’s Road (who was tipped in this column on the day), before he went to Sandown for another big staying handicap and finished second behind Morney Wing, giving him a tonne of weight.
What bodes well here despite that reverse is the fact that he pulled a mile clear of the rest, who were quite strung out on the day and, although he has been raised 5lbs for it he looks to still have a bit up his sleeve from the handicapper.
It’s clearly an open race but the selection looks progressive, boasts course-winning form and runs off a nice racing weight of 10stone 6lbs.
He ticks plenty of boxes and is worth back at the 8/1 or 9/1 on offer around the place this morning.
Over at Ascot, Herald columnist Robbie Power can grace the winners’ enclosure on Jessica Harringtons’ MAGIC OF LIGHT (1.50 Ascot) in the olbg.com Mares’ Hurdle.
It was a bit surprising when Harrington sent her to Newbury last time for a Listed Chase but she won that with loads in hand and clearly the top trainer feels that she has found the mare another good opportunity.
Obviously it remains to be seen if she is as good a hurdler as she is over fences but she is clearly in good heart at the moment and is good enough to get involved here today.
In the Matchbook Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle, SEDDON (2.25 Ascot) looks fairly handicapped off an opening mark of 137 and he can make his presence felt in this Grade Three handicap hurdle.
Tom George’s six-year-old Stowaway was a good Bumper horse last season and finished in midfield at the Cheltenham Festival.
He won his novice well and was subsequently not far behind Elixir De Nutz and Jarveys Plate, both of whom who have won better races since (the former the Tolworth Hurdle) and could really be dangerously handicapped today.
His form behind Angels Breath too reads well seeing as though that one is the Supreme favourite and he is worth backing here.
1.50 magic of light
2.40 silver streak
3.15 red infantry