The 2007 Welsh Grand National winner, who joined Williams from the Alner’s at the beginning of this campaign, has a terrific record at Haydock. He has finished in the first five in all four races he has completed at the north-west track and followed up his 2008 win in this race with a gallant third under top weight 12 months ago.
His run in the Welsh National last time showed that he retains plenty of his old ability and he is set to shoulder 7lbs less than 12 months ago as Our Vic stands his ground at the top of the weights. The useful William Biddick takes off another 5lbs and it is difficult to envisage the partnership not taking a hand with conditions in their favour.
Of the remainder, Le Beau Bai is clearly progressive and deserves his place at the head of the market. However, the handicapper is catching up with him fast and I can see no reason why he, Silver By Nature and Dream Alliance are that much shorter than our selection as they all meet him on worse terms than at Chepstow. I’d far rather have a small each-way saver on L’AVENTURE at 16/1 as she is another with a terrific Haydock record, loves the mud and has benefited from a change of stables.
Cheltenham Festival clues will come thick and fast at Ascot tomorrow and MENORAH can cement his position as the main threat to Dunguib in the Spinal Research Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Philip Hobbs’ runner will carry top weight, but he looked a serious prospect at Kempton over Christmas, beating the useful Bellvano in a very quick time.
The Hobbs yard could be celebrating a double on the card with PLANET OF SOUND in the Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase. The eight-year-old has already lowered the colours of Twist Magic this season and although Albertas Run beat him here in November, I fancy him to reverse the placings on six pound better terms.
Alan King’s OH CRICK is a horse I like and even though I don’t think he will win tomorrow it might be worth having a few quid each-way on him at 40/1 for the Queen Mother. He loves Cheltenham and I can see him sneaking into a place behind Master Minded.
For those of you that can’t wait until tomorrow I wouldn’t put you off backing the Robert and Sally Alner-trained BOWLEAZE each-way in this afternoon’s Chemring Group Handicap Chase at Sandown (2.45pm). The 11-year-old is a real gutsy type and is two from two over this course and distance. The Alner’s also have the likely favourite in top weight Shillingstone, but I fancy the stable second string to bounce back to form at a course he loves.