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Haydock PlacePot 22nd Jan

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Plenty in this field who like to race handily so this is likely to be a truly run affair. Minella Drama and Antey have gone off the boil recently so the 2 to play look to be SHAKEM UP’ARRY and PAPA TANGO CHARLY. The former was an impressive 8-length winner here in December and should appreciate the step up in trip on that evidence, whilst the latter has won twice over fences at Carlisle this season and looks very progressive.


JONBON. We could endlessly debate whether he will beat his stablemate Constitution Hill at Cheltenham in March, but that is a matter for another day. This is the Supreme Novices’ trial, and the bare facts are that he has achieved significantly more than his 6 rivals. He is keen going and it is fair to say that both his starts over hurdles have been falsely run affairs, but he has got the job done on both occasions, including when winning the Kennel Gate at Ascot last month by 3-lengths.


Although this is a trial, there probably isn’t a Champion hurdle contender in this field, but TOMMY’S OSCAR is the solid option and could pick up a deserved win in Graded company. Ann Hamilton does remarkably well with her small string and given that he arrives here on the back of 3 straight wins and that he is at least 11lbs well in with his 5 rivals, it is very hard to see how he doesn’t make the frame at least on these terms.


ROYALE PAGAILLE absolutely bolted up when winning this by 16-lengths last season and his 2nd placed finish to A Plus Tard in the Betfair Chase here in November is a clear best in terms of recent form. He does have weight to give away but should still be involved at the finish. This is a handicap however and he does meet some progressive rivals, so it is worth adding in EMPIRE STEEL as well. Sandy Thomson’s 8-year-old was travelling like the winner when he fell 4 out in the Rowland Meyrick at Christmas and his 2nd placed finish behind Striclyadancer in November over this course and distance reads very well in hindsight.


So far so good(hopefully), but now things start to get a little more competitive as we move into the handicaps. This is a very competitive handicap hurdle, so we need a couple of perms here to get us through. POTTERS HEDGER has plenty of form at Haydock and although he was disappointing at Market Rasen, that was his first start since April, and he has often improved for the benefit of his first outing. Lucy Wadham’s yard are going well at present (33% strike rate in last 14-days) and we know he stays well. THE BRIMMING WATER is the potential improver in the lineup and provided he sees out the 3-mile trip on his first attempt, he could be well treated on a mark of 127. The same could also be said for FOILLAN who won on Heavy ground at Wetherby last month and should also be able to get involved despite his 10lb rise in the weights.


7-runners in the final leg of a Placepot, what a nightmare! There are some progressive types on show here in what looks a very tight Handicap chase, but we will get a free marker for the form of EST ILLIC when Shakem Up’Arry runs earlier on the card. He made the running here last month before tiring in the closing stages, but he wasn’t beaten too far and is beginning to look well handicapped. He isn’t the most straightforward though so it is worth having a cover with GALLIC GEORDIE who really should have completed a 4-timer at Newcastle on Tuesday but was left too much to do. He is turned out quickly on the same mark and if he repeats that effort he should be involved in the finish.

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