Haydock preview: Mind The Crack among Saturday betsPublished on: June 7, 2019Author: David Metcalf
Trainer Mark Johnston has his team in fine form and Mind The Crack looks to hold leading claims of providing him with another winner in the extended 1m 3f Betway Heed Your Hunch Handicap that gets proceedings underway on a cracking seven-race card at Haydock on Saturday (13;45).
This three-year-old son of Jukebox Jury shaped with plenty of promise to be make the frame in three runs as a juvenile, most notably when third of 11 to Olympian at Newmarket back in October.
Mind The Crack showed plenty of pace to track the leaders and then kept on nicely from the furlong marker to be beaten three lengths without being unduly knocked about.
The winner has previously finished a three-quarters of a length runner-up to Pablo Escobarr at Goodwood, and that one is now rated 97 having gone on to chase home subsequent Epsom Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck in a Listed contest at Lingfield.
Travel On, who finished 2 3/4 lengths in front of Mind The Crack in second, has also won since and finished fourth in a Group 3 to be rated 97.
That gives the form a strong look and suggests an opening handicap mark of just 83 for Mind The Crack could seriously underestimate his ability.
He also comes into the race on the back of a facile five-length success on return to action at Lingfield last month having been gelded and that will have boosted his confidence.
Mind The Crack looks a potential big improver now going down the handicap route and has a very similar profile to Sea Youmzain who landed the spoils in this 12 months ago for Johnston.
It makes him a fascinating contender and odds of 11/4 with Bethard look more than fair.
Alhaazm and Prejudice head dangers
The Sir Michael Stoute trained Alhaazm ran very well last time out when runner-up in a decent class 4 handicap at Newbury, so is 7/2 with Betway to go one better and open his account.
A bold bid to do that looks on the cards, but the three-year-old son of Cape Cross has been put up 5lb for that and that is going to make things tough in this better grade class 3 affair.
Prejudice, a best-price 9/4 with 888Sport finished 2 1/2 lengths behind Alhaazm that day, but travelled strongly for much of the race until weakening late on.
It was a highly promising return to action for David Simcock’s charge and he now meets Alhaazm on 4lb better terms.
That may well be enough to see the placings reversed and he thus rates the main danger to Mind The Crack.
Confessional each-way value in Dash
In the 6f Betway Dash Handicap (16.10), grand old campaigner Confessional looks decent each-way value at the 12/1 on offer with Coral given that he runs the track well and is set to get underfoot conditions to suit.
Trained by Tim Easterby, who has been amongst the winners of late, this 12-year-old has won three times and been placed on seven occasions in 20 starts at this venue.
He was last successful over course and distance back in October when racing up with the pace throughout and stating on dourly to beat Lord Oberon by three-quarters of a length on heavy ground off a mark of 87.
Confessional has had just two starts this season and, in the first of those at Chester, showed that he still retained all his old enthusiasm when a cracking two-length third of nine to Merhoob off 90 on good-to-soft going.
He then found quicker ground against him last time out when ninth of 14 to Muscika at Thirsk and has since been dropped 2lb.
It means that Confessional is now able to race off 88. just 1lb higher than when last victorious, and that gives the son of Dubawi every chance from a handicapping perspective.
The ground at the Merseyside is soft at the time of wiring and more rain is forecast. That will play to the strengths of Confessional for who it is a case of the softer the better.
High numbers are also favoured when the ground is testing, so Confessional looks drawn to attack from the off in stall 14 and has more going for him than his odds would suggest.
Pendleton weighted to strike on handicap debut
Pendleton opened his account in good style last time, so looks worth a punt at 9/2 with William Hill to cash-in on what looks a lenient mark to follow-up in the 6f Betway Sprint Handicap (15:46).
That came on just his third start when landing a six-runner maiden auction stakes at Newcastle by half-a-length from You Little Ripper.
After racing with the leader, jockey Paul Mulrennan produced the son of Garswood to take up the running travelling strongly at the furlong marker.
He then only had to resort to a hands and heels ride to get Pendleton home and he scored with far more in hand than the winning margin suggests.
It was a most taking performance and You Little Ripper was rated 79 going into the contest. The pair also pulled 4 1/2 lengths clear of the third home Delachance, who has since run really well to go down by just a head to the well-regarded Local History at Yarmouth.
That gives the form a solid look and suggests an opening handicap mark of 82 for Pendleton may well be on the lenient side. He is also unexposed and appeals as the type to keep onside now going down the handicap route.
Pendleton hails from a yard that has a tremendous strike rate of just under 28 per cent with its runners at the venue in the last 12 months. So, taking everything into account, there is simply nothing not to like about his chances in this.
Whelans Way an in-form rival
The Roger Teal trained Whelans Way comes into the race in fine fettle having showed improved form to make a winning return to action on soft ground at Ascot.
He backed that up with a fine effort in defeat when a three-quarters of a length second of 12 to Gabrial The Wire at Doncaster.
Whelans Way has been nudged up another pound since, but is clearly going the right way and a revised rating of 79 should therefore not be beyond him.
William Hill make him 7/1 to get back to winning ways and he looks the one most likely to take advantage should Pendleton fail to live up to expectations.