The big race at Haydock this Saturday is the Grade 2 Peter Marsh Chase (15:15), a limited handicap over an extended 3m 1f. In a typically wide-open renewal, the improving young chaser Daklondike makes most appeal after winning the Tommy Whittle at the Merseyside venue last time out.
Trained by David Pipe, the seven-year-old is four from eight over fences and the way he finished off that race on this course suggests the extra two-and-a-half furlongs here should be no problem. Although put up 6lb for a length victory when produced late by regular rider Tom Scudamore, he stayed on really strongly and won going away at the finish.
That suggests Daklondike was value for more than the winning margin and is well worth a punt at 8/1 with 888Sport to go in again. Handler Pipe knows what it takes to win this after saddling Our Vic to land the spoils in 2012 and he’s also in decent form in 2019 so far.
Reasons to oppose prominent pair Valtor and Robinsfirth
Dangers lurk everywhere in this ultra-competitive event. The betting suggests Nicky Henderson’s French import Valtor is one of those but, while owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede won this two years ago with Bristol De Mai, he has to carry top weight.
It’s clear Valtor was a handicap blot when always going well on UK debut and winning a Listed Ascot handicap impressively by eight lengths. The assessor has had his say for that, however, and put this 10-year-old up 12lb to a mark of 160.
That means Valtor hasn’t got into this lightly and no horse has carried top weight to victory in the Peter Mash since Jodami back in 1997. It suggests Daryl Jacob’s mount has it all to do to back-up that eye-catching British bow despite trainer and jockey remaining in top form.
Robinsfirth is low mileage for his age (also 10), but Colin Tizzard’s charge faces a tall order trying to win this first time out after 400 days off. The Venn Farm handler did win the race last year with The Dutchman, however, and champion jockey Richard Johnson is booked to ride despite a fall in the week.
Captain Redbeard may be most dangerous with others out the handicap
As this is a limited handicap, two horses must run from out of the weights. Of that pair, only the Charlie Longsdon trained Ballydine fulfills the age profile of most recent winners. Eight-year-olds have won three of the last five renewals, and seven of the last 14 runnings.
While those stats support Ballydine, there is no hiding the fact he is 5lb out of the handicap on his official mark of 135. Nigel Twiston-Davies captured a second Peter Marsh success with the aforementioned Bristol De Mai in 2017 and saddles Ballyarthur, who is only 3lb out the weights but meets Daklondike off 2lb worse terms for a length’s defeat in the Tommy Whittle.
Horses that were runners-up in this in the last couple of years are also back for another crack. Otago Trail chased home Bristol De Mai and represents in-form handler Venetia Williams off only 2lb higher than his last winning mark here.
The 11-year-old ran really well after a long layoff to finish a 3 1/2 lengths third to Lake View Lad in the Rehearsal Handicap Chase at Newcastle in December. While the winner has gone on to land the Grade 3 Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby, Otago Trail bounced when last to finish behind Valtor.
That leaves relative course specialist and last year’s Peter Marsh second Captain Redbeard, who runs off the same mark for in-form Stuart Coltherd under son Sam, as one to consider backing each-way at 11/1 with Coral. His form figures at Haydock are 31123, so he’s never failed to make the frame at the track.
Wakanda also worth considering each-way
Red Infantry stays further which is an obvious plus in these stamina tests and is a course winner for Ian Williams. This nine-year-old runs in the Peter Marsh off 10lb higher than when winning a class 3 handicap over an extended 3m 4f two starts ago and has since chased home Morney Wing when beaten a length in the London National at Sandown.
No trainer has been more successful in the race this century than Sue Smith, however, with three victories from 2000 onwards. That makes Wakanda another each-way possibility at 14/1 with Unibet as the four-time Listed handicap winner is eased by the assessor to just 1lb higher than his last winning mark.
The 10-year-old timed his run to perfection to prevail by a head 12 months ago in the valuable Sky Bet Handicap Chase at Doncaster. This demands more than that and subsequent outings, but Smith’s stable is bang in-form and Danny Cook is again aboard the Rowland Meyrick fourth.
Grand National hero One For Arthur tries to kickstart his career again after his rider got no further than the third fence on reappearance last time out. Lucinda Russell’s dour stayer probably wants further, but is reunited with Aintree partner Derek Fox here. It looks a big ask at the weights for the popular Scottish raider though.
Fergal O’Brien veteran Chase The Spud and Dan Skelton runner Three Musketeers complete a field of 12. It’d be a shock if either were to land the spoils, however, with the former finding it hard to maintain his form aged 11 despite being a course and distance winner. The latter has stamina to prove.