Saturday – Victoria Cup
There are some quite strong trends that have stood up well in this race in the past. Ideally you are looking for a 4yo carrying less than 9st with form in big field handicaps. Also, those that already have shown a strong hand by finishing first or second last time have a very poor record. The two obvious ones from all points of view are Keyser Soze who was poorly drawn in the Spring Cup though still managed to finish third, and Kynren who was third in the Spring Mile. Neither races have worked out that great from the runners to race since though both had their excuses as to why they didn’t perform better and arguably win. Preference in the end is with the latter, partly because of the bigger price, but also a nagging concern about the track for Keyser Soze who flopped at Ascot last year. Was unfancied in the Spring Cup at 25/1 so it also makes you wonder whether it was flattered in the race. Kynren was 8/1 in his race which was a big step up in class having won several races last year at lower. Just seems to be a bit more mileage in its price for me.
1pt win Kynren @ 12/1 Bet365, Skybet and WillHill
Saturday – Swinton Hurdle
Big old handicap hurdle which looks to hold plenty of value considering firms are betting 10/1+ the field. This is relevant because the betting has been a pretty good guide in previous years as 7 of the last 10 winners was priced at 8/1 or shorter. With all 7 winners aged seven or younger then no point looking at older horses either. None of the 10 winners had won last time out despite 54 trying whilst even those finishing second were only 1 from 27.
Evan Williams has a fantastic record in this race, often targeting it with his well handicapped runners. Therefore it is interesting it has the clear top weight in John Constable, carrying fully 11lb more than the next rival. This looks a common ploy used to bring in another rival off a much lower weight. The only horse they have entered is Silver Streak who impressed me back in October with the way it quickened clear to win a class 2 handicap at Chepstow. Was then a decent second at Ascot in a hot handicap which is working out ok. Was 16/1 for the Betfair hurdle but unseated early on, before 6th in the Imperial Cup. I think it found the soft ground against it in that race. All its form has come on better, possibly because it finds it easier to produce its turn of foot on a sounder surface. On a low weight and possibly with leading apprentice Mitchell Bastyan claiming as well it can continue the fine record of the yard in the race.
The horse who has the potential to be a big gamble in the race could well be Project Bluebook and so is worth supporting also. Still only the 10 runs over hurdles it has been rated 143 in the past and a grade 2 winner in Ireland just over a year ago. Down to 136 now it is another who has seen its form drop off on soft ground. Seems much better on faster, if the ground can hold off, which isn’t always the case at Haydock, then it looks a well handicapped horse.
1pt win Silver Streak @ 14/1 WillHill
1pt win Project Bluebook @ 12/1 widely available