It’s great to have the racing back and there is plenty of action this Saturday afternoon with the feature race over at Haydock, the Grand National Trial, looking a strong renewal.
The favourite is the improving Ramses De Teillee, who ran Elegant Escape to a close second in the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow.
He will be high on many punters shortlists, but he hasn’t really done much away from that undulating track and the ground looks like it will be racing on the better side, which is also unlikely to suit.
The pace will be a good one with the likes of former winner Yala Enki, the improving The Two Amigos, and Red Infantry all out to make the running.
The Peter Marsh form-line could be one to follow with Captain Redbeard’s defeat of Definitely Red earlier in the week franking the form. Of those reopposing in this, I like the chances of ROBINSFIRTH most, he was the one for me to take out of that gruelling affair over this course.
He has a track record of improvement after long layoffs and having missed 400 days off the track, Robinsfirth really did better than the bare result at Haydock. He was entitled to be ring rusty and the run will have brought him on for that.
He goes well on this drying ground and could still be feasibly handicapped off a mark of 148 – a career high – with this just his seventh start over fences, remaining unexposed over marathon trips.
Robinsfirth was certainly staying on stoutly over an extended 3m 1f and was succesful on his previous attempt over 3m 2f in a Grade 3 at Cheltenham on his penultimate start back in December 2017. Sean Bowen gets the leg up for Colin Tizzard and he’s expecting a big run from this low-mileage 10-year-old.
It may also might be worth taking a chance on an improved showing coming from BALLYOPTIC with Nigel Twiston-Davies sure to be using this as a prep for the Grand National now that the weights have been published.
Ballyoptic was desperately unlucky not to win the Scottish Grand National last year on quick ground and although he’s six pounds higher now there’s still a good chance he could produce more off a mark of 155 having been rated in the 160’s as a hurdler.
Ballyoptic begun the campaign in the Becher Chase where he fell during the second circuit of the race and he put in a decent top-weight carrying performance in the Welsh Grand National to finish sixth on his second run of the season. Both of those races generally go to specialists and he can be excused if he failed to fully fire on either occasion.
Ballyoptic will enjoy a return to slightly better ground here and might just have the class edge on a few of his rivals with one of his highlights as a Novice last season including a fourth to Presenting Percy in the RSA Chase.
At 10/1, he’s a fair each-way play and is likely to beneft from the fast pace that should be set up front.
1pt each-way Robinsfirth @8/1, 15:35 Haydock, Saturday (1,2,3,4 places, 1/4 odds with Ladbrokes)
1pt each-way Ballyoptic @10/1, 15:35 Haydock, Saturday (1,2,3,4, 5 places, 1/5 odds with various bookmakers)