Haydock has managed to pass a late inspection this morning with the threat of a frozen track posing a risk to proceedings on the card today. It is set to be a grueling 3m 2f trip here in the Peter Marsh with plenty of dour stayers in the line-up.
The conditions could be spot on for Yala Enki, who has a liking for this track having won the Tommy Whittle last season, but he has not been as consistent this time round and has struggled to finish off his races during the campaign.
Hainan was high on the shortlist for this race having absolutely bolted up here in November over 3m 4f, but the Sue Smith inmate got nowhere near ROCK THE KASBAH over a 3m 2f trip at Uttoxeter last April (when only losing to the talented American in testing conditions).
The latter is just preferred as they race here on similar terms, with Rock The Kasbah having put in a fine round of jumping to win going away on his only start of the season during a handicap at Chepstow in October.
Rock The Kasbah has since had a long break, but goes very well fresh for Philip Hobbs and the champion jockey. His staying credentials were underlined on several occasions last season and he looks tailor made for a race of this nature despite the 7lbs raise.
He is used to carrying a bit of weight, albeit 11st 6lbs is not the worst he could be lumped with, and with a weight-carrying (11st 9lbs) career win on the track already to his credit, he ticks plenty of boxes.
An eight-year-old still, he remains lightly-raced and open to further improvement. His novice campaign was fairly successful and included a good second to Grade 1 Tingle Creek winner Politologue, and looks to be the class horse in the race.
The ground and trip should hold no fears for Rock The Kasbah and this one time Welsh Grand National favourite of earlier in the season may have been perfectly placed to land this having failed to run in the Welsh National with this looking a weak renewal of the Peter Marsh Chase.
1pt each-way Rock The Kasbah @13/2, 15:15 Haydock, Saturday (1/4 odds first three places with Coral)