I have read in the press this week that Kauto Star doesn’t like Haydock. From memory, Paul Nicholls said as much after the dual Gold Cup winner’s defeat in this race 12 months ago. However, he unseated at the last that day when arguably coming with a winning run, having previously won the last two renewals over course and distance – he obviously hates the place!
He is as short as 11/10 with Boylesports to make a winning seasonal reappearance and as one of the greatest steeplechasers of the last century, he warrants more than plenty of respect. The one worry I have is the ground, which could easily turn heavy if the forecasted rain hits Haydock Park. Now, even though Kauto Star has won in desperate ground in the past, this will be potentially the worst he has ever faced over a three mile trip and I worry about him getting home. I’m also sure that he won’t be 100 per cent wound up on his first run of the campaign and Ruby Walsh won’t punish him if he begins to send out distress signals. After all, he is using this as a prep for Kempton on Boxing Day.
There is a chance that Haydock could even be off if it really pours and, even if it is on, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Paul Nicholls’ withdrew his stable star. Yet, if he is allowed to take his chance, I will take him on with last year’s Welsh National winner NOTRE PERE at a best priced 3.5 on Betdaq. He wants the ground just about un-raceable and will take plenty of catching if ridden positively from the front. Of the rest, one that could go well at around 16/1 is Halcon Genelardais who will also love the ground and will be staying on when others have cried enough.
Elsewhere on Saturday and I’m keen to give Nicky Henderson’s ZARINSKI another chance if he’s allowed to take his chance in Huntingdon’s 1.05pm contest. Regular readers of this column will remember I recommended him on his debut at Sandown when he was just reeled in on the run-in. He’ll strip fitter tomorrow and will take all the beating as long as the rain stays away.
Betdaq sponsor the Listed Churchill Stakes at Lingfield and Luca Cumani’s PRESVIS looks impossible to oppose even with the burden o nine stone and 10lbs. Kieren Fallon takes the mount on the five-year-old globe trotter who should take this on his way to Hong Kong.
Fallon is also booked to ride ELNA BRIGHT in the 1.55pm contest and the pair can go well at a decent price. The Johnson stable is in great heart and this seven furlong trip is perfect as 10 furlongs stretches his stamina – he’s been beaten at the trip on both of his last two starts. I’ll be at Ascot today and will be backing Alan King’s MANYRIVERTOCROSS to land the 2.05pm. He won’t be a massive price, but looks difficult to oppose even with a penalty. If you are looking for one at a bigger price, look no further than BOWLEAZE in the 3.15pm. He is ultra consistent and ran a cracker at Wincanton a fortnight ago.
MANYRIVERSTOCROSS 2.05pm Ascot (Today)
BOWLEAZE e/w 3.15pm Ascot (Today)
ZARINSKI 1.05pm Huntingdon (Tomorrow)
ELNA BRIGHT e/w 1.55pm Lingfield (Tomorrow)
NOTRE PERE 2.55pm Haydock (Tomorrow)
PRESVIS 3.40pm Lingfield (Tomorrow)