It’s Lancashire Chase day at Haydock on Saturday, or Betfair Chase day as we know it now. The huge Grade One event will be handing us not only the joy of seeing some of the best chasers in the business strut their stuff in tough conditions, but also some major Cheltenham Festival clues too with the Gold Cup already in focus.
We begin on the flat on Friday at Newcastle however with a couple of horses who look decent value to land their respective events.
Friday 20th November 2020
4.45 Newcastle (Handicap) – WITH RESPECT
Hughie Morrison sends his With Respect up to Newcastle for the second division of this one-mile handicap on the Tapeta track and he has a fabulous chance of landing the odds.
He’s been on the go for a while now having had six runs since August, but as a three-year-old there is bound to be improvement to come from him yet and he might just unlock it on this surface.
Newcastle takes some getting and a look at the profile of this colt suggests that this is exactly what he needs now having run two solid thirds at Newbury and Doncaster. Ray Dawson rides and takes off a very handy 3lbs.
His main market rivals look like the biggest threat with both Perfect Swiss and Daniel Deronda having solid each-way chances on the book.
5.15 Newcastle (Nursery Handicap) – ALBERT CAMUS
John Gosden has a fantastic record at Newcastle, but while sending the Enable’s and the Without Parole’s to Gosforth Park is done simply to get the best racing conditions for a horse on its debut, travelling only one 75-rated juvenile for a Class 5 nursery suggests he’s doing so because he knows it has an outstanding chance.
The selection is of course based on more than that. Albert Camus ran well enough on debut at Sandown when third to the smart Maximal to be worthy of at least this handicap mark and that was back in September. Consider then that he will undoubtedly have improved plenty since then, he can be expected to run a good 5-7lbs better than his mark. He has the excellent PJ McDonald up top to help him along.
His rivals are strong, Mark Johnston’s Annandale being a last time out winner who has the potential to improve, though it wouldn’t necessarily make him better handicapped than the selection and runners from this stable don’t always go on from race to race.
William Haggas is another Newmarket trainer with a good record here and his Currency Exchange isn’t out of this considering his gelding operation and the addition of cheekpieces, but again improvement is not guaranteed with him.
Saturday 21st November 2020
12.10 Haydock (Newton Novices’ Hurdle – Listed Race) – DO YOUR JOB
A good quality listed race over what will prove to be a tough enough two miles on this track, one which even while flat is very, very testing when the rain gets in.
The presence of Paul Nicholls’ Flic Ou Voyou, on a four-timer here, has kept the price on our horse very respectable and we have to take advantage of that here.
Officially rated 4lbs inferior to his main rival, Do Your Job’s latest run when winning ever so easily at Ayr was worth more than that and he has been improving in absolute lumps in between races.
To top it off, the horse he beat with ease, Dan Skelton’s useful Cadzand, came out himself next time and won comfortably. The up and coming Severance is next on the list
1.45 Lingfield (Novice Stakes) – TOUCHWOOD
The likely favourite here is Richard Hughes’ Elektronic who was fourth on debut at Kempton Park recently. While that form is solid enough in the context of this juvenile race, he leaves him vulnerable as a favourite and I’d say that a similar run at the same track from Touchwood was better and he may prove that here.
Charlie Hilles’ Invincible Spirit colt made a slow start to his racing career at Ascot but greatly improved last time. He is better bred than his main rival, has Kieran Shoemark on board and possesses the pace needed at this track to get into position when and where it counts.
3.00 Haydock (Betfair Chase – Grade 1) – CLAN DES OBEAUX
I seem to remember being really sweet on Lostintranslation when he won this race last year, finally defeating Haydock specialist Bristol De Mai who reopposes once again.
Bristol is a wonderful horse and not done with yet, but in stepping back and taking a wider looking at his bare form, his ratings, his ups and his downs, he’s not a horse who seems likely to run to his very best and that would have been what was required here.
Lostintranslation was terrific in this race last season and ran third in the Gold Cup no less, but on the books both performances were of a similar standard and if that’s how good he is then he is top-notch, but not unbeatable.
It may also be worth pointing out that this is his seasonal debut. Two seasons who, he was a beaten 13/8 favourite on seasonal debut and last year he won an easier race at Carlisle before coming here making his chances this year look a little less certain.
Step forward Clan Des Obeaux. The 2018 and 2019 King George winner actually does appear, overall at least considering the understandable peaks and troughs, to be getting better. He loves a flat track, goes well on soft ground and is back nice and fresh for the season having had a breathing operation.
Even when he was fourth in this race back in 2018, statistically it was his career high to that point. Paul Nicholls’ runner is no certainty, but between the three principals he is easily the best value.