WE will be counting our gold after backing CAPTAIN REDBEARD to bag the loot in Haydock’s Peter Marsh Handicap Chase (3.15).
The sharp course with notoriously stiff fences is not everybody’s cup of tea but the Captain loves the place as course form figures of 312123 prove.
He was second in this race 12 months ago and produced probably his best track form when third to Vintage Clouds here in November.
He was bang in contention at the last that day, despite twice being badly hampered by horses falling in front of him, so the form is even better than it appears.
The bonus is he has been left on the same mark which gives him a handy racing weight of 10-8, before good claimer Sam Coltherd takes off 5lb.
He did not take to the National fences last time so the run can be ignored.
Otago Trail is also in with a shout, he was well behind Valtor at Ascot but is better judged on his encouraging return at Newcastle.
He was second in this race in 2017, the stable are in great form and he is a solid each-way option.
One For Arthur fell early on at Aintree and will surely need the run and fitness is also a worry with Robinsfirth.
The Ballys – Arthur and Dine at the bottom of the card – are in good form but are both carrying more than their allotted weight and are up in class.
I spy an eyecatcher…
Newbury’s Wednesday fixture was modest by the track’s standards but VOLPONE JELOIS ran an eye-catching race in the 2m handicap hurdle.
On his second run for Chris Gordon and ridden by his new enthusiastic owner/amateur jockey David Maxwell he was given a lot to do and may have challenged on the softer ground so his run in finishing second to a well-backed favourite can be marked up.
He will go up a few pounds but was rated higher when with Paul Nicholls and can find a race. He stays further but needs ground no softer than good. His new owner is pretty decent as unpaid pilots go so look out for Volpone in an amateur-riders handicap.
At Kempton later that day Sir Mark Prescott’s BATTLE OF PARADISE was backed at fancy prices all day to make a winning debut in the mile maiden.
He was returned at 11-2 and ran a cracker, despite having the worst of the draw in box 14, to finish second to the more experienced – and also well supported – Target Zone.
The first two pulled clear and the runner-up, who holds a Derby entry and is related to Leger winner Millenary and Derby third Let The Lion Roar, looks to have a bright future. Battle Of Paradise is one to go to war with in the coming turf Flat season.
GLOBAL CITIZEN looks overpriced in Haydock’s New One Hurdle at 2.40.
He was outclassed in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton last time but he impressed when winning earlier at Newbury, showing real tenacity to foil well-treated Lisp in a quality handicap.
His front-running style is ideal in a small field round a sharp track. Silver Streak is the form pick having progressed well to finish second in Cheltenham’s International Hurdle last time.
He won a good handicap here in May but loves fast ground and is unlikely to get that with more rain, or even snow, forecast.
Mohaayed won at Ascot last month and took the County at Cheltenham in March but is ideally suited to the hustle and bustle of big handicaps.
This will be a different kettle of fish. Western Ryder is not out of it but usually finds one or two too good.
Ascot’s card looks tricky for punters with two devilishly difficult handicaps and a lap of honour for Altior in the Clarence House Chase but the mares’ hurdle (1.50) has a value bet in Irish raider MAGIC OF LIGHT as she has a massive chance.
She bolted up last time in a Listed chase at Newbury and has shown steady improvement over fences.
She has not raced over hurdles for some time but, if she runs to within 7lb of her chasing form, she will be hard to beat.
This could be a very clever bit of placing by her shrewd trainer.
If You Say Run, who had Culture de Sivola behind last time, looks best of the home team but has hung left on both her starts this term and that has to be a worry.
There is a good card at Taunton where BELTOR can land the 2m3f handicap hurdle at 2.15.
He was very promising as a juvenile but has had injury problems so it was encouraging to see him make the most of a lenient mark on his return at this track last month.
The way he stayed on at the end of two miles suggests this longer trip will be perfect and a 4lb rise still leaves him chucked in on his best form.
Unison has a good track record but is best at the minimum trip, Air Force One has questions to answer after two poor runs and Blue Rambler probably needs further.
The first should be Last in the £50,000 Portman Cup at 2.50. THE LAST SAMURI ticks plenty of boxes for this 3m4f test.
He is strong on stamina having been second in a Grand National, enjoys good ground and is favoured by the weights, receiving 4lb from Present Man, who is unproven at the distance and Thomas Patrick, who has been bitterly disappointing on his last two starts.
The Last Samuri shaped promisingly on his first start for Harry Fry last month.
Vicente flopped on his reappearance but will be a big danger if back to his best.