This weekend’s big betting heat is the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock, a Grade 2 handicap run over 3m1f. It was an important trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the 1980s and 1990s with the likes of Little Owl, Bregawn, The Thinker and Jodami all past winners. But, nowadays, it’s viewed as more of a prep race for Grand National hopefuls and a few of today’s field will have designs on Aintree.
One of those will be Chance Du Roy, who has already shown himself to be well suited by the Grand National fences. Philip Hobbs‘ 10-year-old won the Becher Chase over the big obstacles on his latest start and was second in the 2012 Topham Chase. Already a leading fancy for the big race in April, another good run at Haydock will see Chance Du Roy’s odds shorten further and he’s a general 10/1 for the Peter Marsh with BetVictor and Paddy Power.
Sydney Paget would have been very near the top of my list had he not run inexplicably poorly when favourite for the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby on Boxing Day. He stopped as if shot when headed three out and was pulled up. That was a pity as he’d been very impressive when beating Silver By Nature at Haydock on his reappearance. Sydney Paget is a best 7/1 with Ladbrokes and William Hill. Katenko, despite his progress last season, hasn’t done it for me so far this term and looks short enough at 5/1 with Betfred and bet365 while Merry King (also a best 5/1) who has run well in defeat in the Hennessy and Welsh National since finishing second to Houblon Des Obeaux at Ascot in November, may be one of those that will always find at least one too good at this level.
VINTAGE STAR finished one place and a couple of lengths behind Merry King in the Welsh National at Chepstow and is actually worse off at the weights. But he was travelling as well as anything turning for home and will possibly be better suited by the drop in distance than Jonjo O’Neill‘s charge. Maybe Aintree this year will be a little too soon but Sue Smith‘s chaser remains a fine long-term prospect and has already won over this trip on heavy ground this season, at Carlisle. At 7/1 with BetVictor, he represents some value.
Night Alliance, who has won three of his last four including over 3m4f at Haydock last time, is a general 8/1 and may be the pick of the remainder ahead of the returning The Minack (10/1 with Betfred and BetVictor) and top weight Vino Griego (the same odds in several places) but the Smiths’ Star can turn in a vintage performance to get back on track.