In fact, it will be essential at Haydock tomorrow, when the Betfair Chase takes place at 3.00. Further rain today means that the runners will be sloshing round the track and all but the pace-setter will be caked in the brown stuff by the end of the first circuit.
Favourite for the race at 7/4 (StanJames) is the perennial Cue Card, whose defeat at the hands of Irish Cavalier and Menorah in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby was due, apparently, to the horse being under-cooked by his esteemed trainer. That’s what comes from using a 60 grand race as a warm up, I suppose. Be that as it may, Cue Card is well clear in the official ratings on an exalted 176, but we can’t help thinking that the horse, who is approaching its 11th birthday, is not quite as good as that.
Second in is the returning Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Coneygree who missed almost the whole of last season through injury. Last seen just over a year ago winning a Listed chase by a distance, this 9-y-o has been the subject of favourable reports prior to his comeback and, unlikely a few of these, will simply love the ground conditions.
Regretfully putting a line through Silvianaco Conti and Menorah as lights of former years, we are left with the young pretenders in Irish Cavalier and See You At Midnight, both of which are set to acquit themselves with honour, but probably not to win.
There is no substitute for class in these races and Coneygree has an abundance of it, so an investment on Mark Bradstock’s pride and joy is advised at 2-1 (10Bet).
Feature of the supporting card is at 2.25 with the Betfair Exchange Fixed Brush Handicap Hurdle, worth a cool £45,000 to the winner. 15 are due to go to post, with the Dan Skelton trained Two Taffs installed as the 4-1 favourite (Racebets). Easy winner of a Carlisle novice event on reappearance, this 6-y-o has a progressive and consistent profile and will almost certainly give its backers a run for the hard-earned. However, having a quick lurk a little further down the card is my idea of a bet and that is Westren Warrior at 8-1 (Winner Sports). A staying on sixth at Cheltenham on comeback off 137, this 7-y-o has two factors which add considerably to its chances. Firstly it can’t be heavy enough for this son of Westerner and hock deep will do just fine. The second factor is the booking of my hero, Brian Hughes, which illustrates that the yard means business and is trying to leave nothing to chance.
Each way at ¼ the odds will do for me and let’s hope it keeps raining.