1pt win Emperor's Choice @6/1, Betfair Handicap Chase (Class 3), 12:40 Haydock

This is a tricky little handicap to unravel and acting as a pre-cursor to the Betfair Chase later in the day, it is in all honesty a weak affair by comparison.

Harry The Viking, a Scottish Grand National runner last year is a decent stayer and off a mark of 129 could be competitive. He is out of form with his last win materialising over two years ago further evidenced when he blundered the third and fell at the fifth on his seasonal debut. It suggests that he may have seen better days and could be vulnerable to his younger peers.

No Deal is well-fancied and remains unexposed, but this is the first time he has tackled a marathon trip and may be best watched to see if his stamina holds up at 7/2 favourite.  Buchaill Alainn is a consistent sort and should be thereabouts with a very good second to the improving Drop Out Joe in his first run this season. He is entitled to come on for that but is 5lbs higher, now racing off a record high mark he faces a stiff task off joint top-weight.

It may be worth siding with Emperor’s Choice on his seasonal reappearance. Lightly raced last season as a seven-year-old, he finished on a high with victory in the Welsh Grand National in testing conditions over 29f – he will be well suited by this trip and the ground to boot with just a 4lb higher mark to contend with since that victory. He must defy what is nearly a year off the track, but he did finish second in this contest last year behind Gas Line Boy having had a break of 210 days so goes well fresh. There isn’t many true out and out stayers in the race and he might just have a bit too much, albeit  the slight concern is that this could be deemed a prep race by connections for later season targets.

Venetia William’s stable is in-form which provides an element of comfort and with a familiar jockey in the saddle in Aidan Coleman who rode him at Chepstow, this Grd 3 winner could prove to be a snip at 6/1.

1pt win Emperor’s Choice @6/1 (Ladbrokes), 12:40 Haydock 


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