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Today’s Racing News: Two Amigos for racing at Haydock and Taunton

Haydock takes centre stage on Thursday with a gruelling stamina test on heavy ground over 3m4. Daryl Carter assesses runners and riders from that one and elsewhere across the country…

Just the three meetings today, but there is some good racing in amongst the 22 races shared between Haydock, Taunton and Wolverhampton.

It’s another day where non-runners are plentiful, so keep an eye out for those ever changes betting markets.

Unsurprisingly, Haydock is heavy, while Taunton is good to soft, soft in places.

Money Talk

Money Talk continues to highlight the Betfair Sportsbook big-money moves to keep you in the loop. This section highlights market moves between 1:00 am and 9:00 am.

12:15 Taunton – Spirit Of Rome 7/1 into 11/2
13:00 Haydock – Frimeur De Lancray 30/1 into 18/1
13:35 Haydock – Transfer Friendly 11/4 into 2/1
19:00 Wolverhampton – River Chorus 9/1 into 15/2

The morning market drifters !

Which horse is the Betfair Sportsbook market suggesting to Lay?

14:40 Haydock – Celebre DAllen 5/2 OUT 3/1 (is drifting)

Mark your card

The Betfair Sportsbook is paying extra places today!

In the 13:35 EBF “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle at Haydock, trainer Olly Murphy and jockey Aidan Coleman have a 67% strike rate when partnering here. Today they team up with Urban Grit 8.07/1. They also partner with Collooney 10.09/1 in the 14:40 Windham Handicap Hurdle.

In the 14:05 Last Fling Handicap Chase, Fergal O’Brien saddles Captain Cattistock 8.515/2, and the trainer has a 31% strike rate over fences at Haydock.

Trainer Jamie Snowden has an excellent 45% strike rate over fences at Haydock, and today he has booked Gavin Sheehan for the ride on Thomas Macdonagh 10.09/1 in the 15:15 Codrington Handicap Chase. They will look to boost their 20% partnership strike rate.

At Taunton in the 12:15 Dorset And Somerset Air Ambulance Training Series Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, three-year-old Kalzari 8.515/2 has to be taken very seriously given he receives 17 pounds as a weight-for-age allowance. He turns four in two days, and this is the last opportunity to make use of the allowance.

Trainer Ben Pauling saddles Bangers And Cash 5.59/2 for his chase debut in the 13:50 Summerfield Developments Novices’ Handicap Chase at Taunton. The trainer has scored with two of his four chasers at this venue for a 50% strike rate.

In the 17:30 Coral Proud To Support British Racing Nursery Handicap at Wolverhampton, trainer William Haggas will look to boost his 20% strike rate with two-year-olds by saddling Invasive 3.55/2.

Horses for courses

This section highlights horses that have won twice or more at today’s tracks and could be in with a chance today.

12:15 Taunton – Mi Laddo – Has won here twice (67%)
13:00 Haydock – Bushypark – Has won here twice (100%)
14:05 Haydock – Chef D’Oeuvre – Has won here twice (40%)
14:40 Haydock – Chti Balko – Has won here twice (22%)
15:30 Taunton – Le Musee – Has won here twice (100%)
17:00 Wolverhampton – Ballyare – Has won here twice (33%)

Weighted to go well

“Weighted to go well” highlights horses running that are more than 10lbs below their last winning handicap mark.

18:00 Wolverhampton – Koeman – Has won off 95 runs off 79
19:30 Wolverhampton – Power On – Has won off 67 runs off 56

Form Watch

This section highlights a trainer, owner or jockey who is in excellent current form and their runners or rides for the day.

Trainer N W Alexander has been operating at a 40% strike rate in the last 14 days. Today the trainer runs Charm Offensive 3.55/2 in the 12:30 at Haydock and Up Helly Aa King 9.08/1 in the 15:15.

Furthest traveller

Today’s furthest traveller is trainer Lucinda Russell with her runner Ballyare 5.04/1 in the 17:00 Handicap at Wolverhampton. She has travelled 303-miles in the bid to gain her runner back to back wins in eight days.

Ballyare takes a step up in class today but won convincingly with a career-best performance over course and distance last time out.

Race of the day

We head to Haydock for their 14:05 Last Fling Handicap Chase over a mammoth trip of 3m4 1/2f, and on heavy ground, this will be the sternest test of stamina for this field of seven runners. It could almost be mistaken for a Veterans Chase with five of the seven eligible for those contests and the sixth just two days away from qualification.

SBK9/4

EXC3.5

Trainer: Dan Skelton
Jockey: Harry Skelton
Age: 12
Weight: 11st 3lbs
OR: 136

Black Lion roared back to form with an excellent jumping performance here last time out over the slightly shorter trip of 3m1f. The 12-year-old was up five pounds in the handicap for that run 29 days ago, and he is entitled to go well once again with that form looking strong.

The 2016 RSA winner is certainly not the force of old, but he has few negatives to his chances, although expecting a repeat of his run earlier this month might be a bit optimistic given his record over the last year or two.

He is interesting but short enough in the market, and stamina might be a question over this longer trip.

SBK5/2

EXC4

Trainer: Nicky Martin
Jockey: David Prichard
Age: 9
Weight: 11st 7lbs
OR: 140

The Two Amigos fell on his seasonal reappearance in the Grade 2 Many Clouds Chase for which he had an impossible task on the ratings but was an excellent eighth in the Midlands National before, and this task looks more his bag.

He is a dour stayer, and although zero for three here at Haydock, he has run some creditable races and the track is no barrier to success. A repeat of his placed effort in the Welsh National or his Midlands National eighth off this seven and nine-pound lower mark (inclusive of the jockey claim) will see him in with a big shout.

He has very likeable claims.

SBK6/1

EXC7.6

Trainer: Tom Symonds
Jockey: A. P. Heskin
Age: 10
Weight: 10st 7lbs
OR: 126

Bobo Mac has slipped a long way in the weights and his run at Ludlow, although beaten by a wide margin, was a step back in the right direction on ground that would have been quick enough for him. Today he is two pounds better off with The Two Amigos for a narrow defeat when the pair were second and third in the Welsh National Trial at Chepstow.

The ground will suit, and so will this small field scenario. He tends to give himself too much to do in big field contests by being held up at the rear of the field, and he will likely be closer to the pace with fewer numbers.

He hasn’t won for two years but is at least back to that last winning mark, and he gets on well with Adrian Heskin.

Big race verdict

This is competitive, and the youngster of the party, Captain Cattistock, has likeable claims for Fergal O’Brien. However, it may pay to side with The Two Amigos, who makes plenty of appeal under this talented five-pound claimer. He has had two of these in behind in the Welsh National, has proven stamina over this trip, and has shown no signs of decline unlike many in this contest today. He looks a good bet at the morning odds.

Timeform power up with three tips for Wolverhampton

Timeform’s Adam Houghton highlights a Nap, Next Best and Each-Way selection at Wolverhampton on Thursday.

New trip can suit unexposed Only The Bold at Taunton

Evan Williams’ Only The Bold should benefit from this step up to 3m for the first time in the 15:30 Thatchers Cider Handicap Hurdle on the evidence of his latest run at this venue when out-paced midrace only to stick on for an eye-catching sixth.

SBK7/1

EXC7.6

Trainer: Evan Williams
Jockey: Adam Wedge
Age: 6
Weight: 11st 4lbs
OR: 121

His run at Aintree on seasonal reappearance can easily be forgiven on ground that was too quick for him when held up in a small field race that turned into a sprint.

He looks like an out and out stayer, and, likely, his potential will only be seen now at a more suitable trip, and the return to a softer surface is another positive.

Nothing in this contest outside of the favourite looks potentially well-handicapped, and his lowly mark of 121 could underestimate him with further improvement to come.

Final Word – Very good, but great?

What an incredible performance from Sharjah at Leopardstown yesterday to equal the record of Hurricane Fly and Istabraq to etch his name in the history books.

It’s some achievement to win the same Grade 1 hurdle four years on the trot, and he must be commended for that. However, and here comes the gripe…

Is he a great? Does his name belong side by side with those outstanding horses mentioned above?

I think some people, the media in the main, rank horses more by the status of the race they have won rather than the quality of opponents that the horse has beaten.

The phrase “a Grade 1 in name only” has never been more appropriate in the 2m division unless Honeysuckle is lining up. Perhaps the races should be given a rating similar to an RPR or Timeform to distinguish between the real top-class two milers over the years and those that have just picked up the pieces during the poor period.

I am no bloodstock agent, but surely giving horses “great” status because of the name of a race will have a poor effect on breeding down the line?

Sharjah can only beat what has been put in front of him, but what is in front of him should always be considered.

Until tomorrow, be lucky

Follow Daryl Carter on Twitter @DarylCarter7

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