BREAD and butter, rhubarb and custard, bacon and eggs; some things just go well together. You can say the same about Sue Smith and Haydock.
In the past five seasons, the 2013 Grand National-winning trainer has had 73 winners at the Lancashire track. If you’d had £1 on all of her runners there, you’d be £73.81 in profit.
That’s quite a staggering record and it has to be of interest that she has entered WAKANDA in tomorrow’s Peter Marsh Chase (3.15pm), a race she landed three years ago with Cloudy Too.
The 10-year-old won last year’s Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster, so it’s eye-catching that she has declared him for this rather than waiting a week for a repeat bid at Town Moor.
Wakanda has won one of his two visits to Haydock and is only 1lb higher than his success almost 12 months ago.
I thought he ran a respectable race in the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby over Christmas, just getting tired in the closing stages after chasing the strong pace.
That was his first start over fences this season so there should be some improvement to come from that.
The presence of Nicky Henderson’s top weight Valtor, who was so impressive at Ascot last month, means my selection carries just 10st 10lbs which is a lovely racing weight.
The step up in trip to 3m1½f should be ideal on the likely good-to-soft ground and he is worth supporting each-way at 12/1 with Ladbrokes.
Valtor is a big threat, but he went up 12lbs for his Ascot win and this will be a tougher test.
David Pipe’s Daklondike won the Tommy Whittle Chase here last month, staying on at the death to take the prize.
He can go well, although he has another 6lbs to carry and would like the ground to be a bit softer.
Venetia Williams can do little wrong at present, so you have to respect Otago Trail who was second to Bristol De Mai in this race two years ago.
The 11-year-old is a very good horse on his day, but he was disappointing behind Valtor last time and may just be a couple of pounds too high in the weights.
Course specialist Captain Redbeard is another with decent each-way claims in an open looking race.
The preceding Champion Hurdle Trial has been renamed The New One Unibet Hurdle (2.40pm), which is a nice touch considering the recently retired popular horse has won this for the past four years.
In truth, this race never has much bearing on the Champion Hurdle, but this year’s contest looks pretty competitive.
Brain Power is the favourite after his impressive win in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham last month.
It was another example of a chaser returning to the smaller obstacles and running off with a decent pot.
He is now no bigger than 16/1 with Coral for the big one in March, although he still needs to improve to take a hand in that.
I’m keen to take him on tomorrow with Evan Williams’ SILVER STREAK, who was beaten less than two lengths by Brain Power at Cheltenham.
He was carrying 4lbs more that day, but receives 2lbs tomorrow, so the 6lb swing should be enough for him to reverse the form.
The six-year-old is improving fast and was a decent winner of the Swinton Hurdle over course and distance last May.
He won the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las in October and was then only a neck behind Nietzsche in the Greatwood Hurdle in November.
Everything looks set for a big run and he should be backed at 2/1.
The betting market suggests it’s MISTER FISHER not Angels Breath who is going to run in the Supreme Novices’ Trial (2.05pm) and the hint should be taken.
You couldn’t fail to be impressed with Henderson’s son of Jeremy at Kempton on Boxing Day and he looks the one to beat in this at around evens.
Mister Fisher 2.05pm Haydock
Silver Streak 2.40pm Haydock
Wakanda e/w 3.15pm Haydock