A dark horse for Haydock....

Friday, 21st January 2022

A dark horse for Haydock….

Royale Pagaille won the Peter Marsh at a canter last year – marking himself out as a horse with Gold Cup potential in the process….

Remastered still looked very much like he was going to figure in the finish at Newbury in the Ladbrokes’ Trophy in November – before crashing out four fences from home….

Empire Steel’s current claim to fame is that he gave Protektorat a thrashing in a novice chase at Kelso last year….

The Skelton horse – now a ‘live’ fancy for the Gold Cup – was probably off colour that day. But the form is in the book and Brian Hughes has been booked to replace regular pilot Ryan Mania in the saddle for tomorrow’s assignment….

These three are up at 5/2, 4s and 5s for tomorrow’s 10-runner Peter Marsh renewal (2.35) – and it’s crystal clear why a large majority of punters will look no further than this group to find the winner….

  • Dark horse....

Fair enough. Each to his own. It’s about 8/15 one of those three horses will come out on top. But following the market is not my game….

My role – admittedly self-appointed – is to dig out a dark horse that can run a big race at an off-the-radar price….

Like View Lad is a candidate. He’s dropped 16lbs on the official rating scale in just over 12-months; the 146 he races of tomorrow is a winning perch for him; and for the first time in a long time he carries a light racing weight….

But he’s getting on now – and he disappointed last time at Wetherby where more was expected. There were excuses – not least being held-up in traffic on a 5-hour journey to the track and only having an hour to recuperate before lining up at the start….

He could roll back the years tomorrow. For sure. He’s rated to do so. But I’d rather be on a horse with its best days ahead of it and Dan Skelton’s ALNADAM fits the bill at the general (and bigger) 14s…. 

He was 3rd in a big-field handicap at Cheltenham last time – having seen plenty of money. He kept on at the end but ran in snatches. I’m not sure he was 100% fully fit….

It might have been that he simply bumped into two much better-handicapped horses on the day. It might be that he isn’t good enough to figure in big handicaps off a mark of 143 (down to 141 now)….

You could make those arguments. But I reckon this horse is good enough to win off 141 and I reckon the step up in trip will suit the 9yo….

Think back to last season’s Cheltenham Festival. Dan Skelton chose that meeting to race Alnadam at 3-miles for the first time in the Ultima….

That’s a big call. The horse was running off 145. But Skelton was bullish that day and the market bought into the horse – Alnadam was sent off at 11/2. In other words, he’d seen plenty of money….

Four fences from home he was travelling as sweetly as anything in the race. He made a mistake – but still jumped into the lead. At that point he held every chance. But it didn’t happen. Between the second fence and the last fence Alnadam cut out and faded – ultimately finishing 7th and beaten 12-lengths….

He lost a shoe. Maybe that had an effect. Maybe he’ll get stronger as he gets older. Maybe headgear would keep him honest. Maybe he just won’t stay 3m at any point. I don’t know. But my point is that he went deep in an ultra-competitive handicap off 145….

Tomorrow – with another year under his belt – he gets another crack at the trip off 141 on ground that will suit. He’s 2lb out of handicap but that’s factored into the price….

Each-way backers take note: William Hill, Sky Bet, Betfair Sportsbook & Paddy Power are 1/5 the first 4….

Nick’s weekend Dark Horse….

To recap on where my idea of the value lies tomorrow afternoon….

In the Peter Marsh Handicap Chase (2.35 @ Haydock).

That is my take on where the value lies – but you will no doubt have your own ideas and that’s exactly as it should be.

  • The final word….

In addition to the Peter Marsh, I’m also backing an underestimated horse in the Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle at Ascot tomorrow afternoon….

My pick sits on what I reckon is a nice mark – and there’s a feature of tomorrow’s race that should enable my selection to improve on previous efforts….

Sign up for a 90-day trial of my service to get direct and immediate access to my Holloway’s selection in the ATC archive (on the website). Do that here….

That’s all for today. Back next week. Meanwhile….

Anything to report? Anything to say? Anything to share? Contact me at: nick.pullen@oxonpress.co.uk
Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd

P.S. ATC goes out Monday to Friday with contrarian betting intelligence you won’t find elsewhere. ATC is the hardest-working racing advisory service in Britain – bar none. Think I’m talking rubbish? Put me to the test….