The excitement is building ahead of the Scoop 6 Bonus in just half hours time. The race that has been chosen is the 2:25 at Haydock. A very tough Handicap Hurdle in which 6 tickets will be playing for the Bonus.
£209k is up for the grabs and I guess the starting point is, can we take on the current favourites in this race. The reason I say this is because, more than likely (almost certain), one of the other or even two syndicates will go with the favourite, meaning if we went for the top of the market, we are likely to share the £209k. You may all be thinking but £209k split between 2 tickets is still £104.5k, which is a hell of a lot of money but you got to remember we started the day playing for £209k by crossing over with other syndicates and taking away a huge amount of value from us is a big no from me.
So the current market leaders at the time of writing are Riggs and Rightplacerighttime who can almost guarantee a selection from the other syndicates.
Do I think they are there to be shot at?
It is a big handicap so without even studying, of course they are there to be shot at. The current price of both is 5/1 and to me if I was betting on my own, both would be bad value:
Riggs is 5/1 because of who his trainer is, Dan Skelton, who is in flying form but this is a horse who has won one race, off a mark of 115. He is rated 127 today and although running well off marks of 128, he has never looked like winning. He is up in trip to 3m for the first time which could bring out improvement but he is hardly value at the prices. A big plus would be the small weight he is carrying but I still believe he is rated correctly around the 125 – 130 bracket. Given I don’t want to be sharing the Scoop 6 Bonus, I am happy to swerve Riggs and look elsewhere.
Rightplacerighttime is right down the bottom of the handicap and is trained by Emmet Mullins, with Harry Kimber claiming 7lb. Emmet Mullins is a very shrewd trainer and he is capable of producing a horse for these big handicaps, as we saw last season with The Shunter. Trouble is I don’t think this horse is of The Shunter calibre and since joining Emmet Mullins, his 3 starts have been over fences. He looks every bit a chaser to me and last season when over hurdles, struggled in handicaps with marks of 112 and 110. No doubt Emmet Mullins has got improvement out of him and he is a danger but do I want to clash with other syndicates, am I that confident that I am happy to share £209k or go it alone, the answer would be to take him on at the price.
Now I am happy to take on the two short priced favourites and go through the race like I would any other handicap using all my skills and knowledge which have served me so well over the years. It is this type of race that I love so let’s get to work.
Next up is Orby’s Legend (since writing now favourite) who was a good winner at Chepstow in October. He has gone up the handicap 8lb for that win and if this race was over 2m 4f, I would be more keen. Trouble is I am not convinced he is going to stay 3 miles and this is a big step up in trip. He was getting closed down last time out at Chepstow so he has enough negatives to put a line through and the fact that 3 miles sends the alarm bells ringing. Just a risky proposition as this race is a ‘staying’ hurdle and is another horse likely to be chosen by other syndicates.
Bass Rock was another impressive winner last time out at Carlisle, beating a horse called Teescomponents Lad who went and won at Market Rasen on Thursday. Like Orby’s Legend this is his first try at the trip and to me he looks like a horse who has more speed than stamina. He is dangerous and I respect him but now up to 130, he has to improve once again. He does enter my shortlist as a possible play though as I am more confident he will get the 3 miles than Orby’s Legend.
Flight Deck is a horse who I have a lot of time for and have been on him quite a few times when winning twice in his last 3 starts. He is a proper stayer and if progressing as I expect, he enters the equation here. He also beat Teescompnents Lad last time out and that form as with Bass Rock was boosted, when he won at Market Rasen on Thursday. Flight Deck is now rated 133 which could still be workable given his style of racing. Trouble is he only ever does enough to win races and you can almost guarantee he will hit a flat spot. On good ground hitting a flat spot is not ideal but even so he has to be on the shortlist as he is a horse progressing and on the upgrade.
Stoney Mountain is up next and he won this race 2 years ago off a mark of 138. This time around he lines up off 142 and does come into the race in form, after winning at Newbury 3 weeks ago. He is dangerous but when weighing up his handicap mark of 142 against a handicap mark of 149 for If The Cap Fits, I have no doubt If The Cap Fits is a 7lb better horse on his day than Stoney Mountain. On that basis alone I am happy to leave him out.
Next up is Didtheyleaveuoutto who will love the good ground but you have to worry about his stamina in a fast run 3 mile race. He is a horse I respect but he is now up to 136 and he is hard to win with. He could play for place money but we need the winner in this race so I will have to swerve.
Finally the last horse I will be talking about before going through the shortlist is If The Cap Fits. He is top weight in this race but is down to a mark of 149 after being as high as 166 a few seasons ago. It is obviously hard to win off top weight but it has been done twice in the last 10 years in this race, with Paisley Park and Trustan Times. He is the class horse of the race and comes here in good form after finishing 2nd to Brewinupastorm at Aintree last time out with the likes of Wilde About Oscar and Summerville Boy in behind. He was also sent off favourite. It The Cap Fits is a former Grade 1 winner at Aintree and although he is probably not the horse he once was back then, I can’t help but think 149 in a handicap is very dangerous, particularly on good ground. He also joins the shortlist of 3 horses.
Although I can make a case value wise for some others, that is the cut off point for me. It may be different if I was having a single bet or tipping but I am happy to stop at that.
Who has made the Shortlist?
I have narrowed this race down to 3 horses in Flight Deck, Bassrock and IF THE CAP FITS and we will be playing the latter as our Scoop 6 Bonus selection. I am a great believer that class will always prevail in races of this nature if you have the right horse and IF THE CAP FITS in my opinion is that horse. Many often over complicate it when they see a horse who is top weight and try to look at the bottom of the handicap when in all my years of experience, as long as you have the right horse, you should stick to class. We saw it last week with Sporting John over 3 miles at Cheltenham who was way too classy even off top weight. Adagio came home 2nd in the Greatwood Hurdle running a cracking race, Gowel Road was 2nd top weight yet romped home, it has happened twice in this race in 10 years, Denman used to do it, Frodon has done it a couple of times. I could go on and on but the point being without making any comparisons to those horses mentioned, if you are going to do it, it has to be the right horses.
IF THE CAP FITS for me is that horse and as the saying goes, wear it. I can’t tell you how well handicapped I believe he is on 149 as I think he is a 155 – 160 horse and the reason he has come down the handicap is because he was sent chasing last season. By the time they were done chasing with him last season and then sent back over hurdles, he did not know if he was coming or going, hence the lacklustre performances when back over hurdles.
Now with a summer on his back and back in training with just a hurdle campaign on the agenda, the horse will have a different mindset. Last time out at Aintree he was well fancied when being sent off favourite against some very good opposition. He ran a great race to come home 2nd but his trainer Harry Fry said in the Racing Post before that race in the stable tour, released on the 3rd November, 3 days prior to his race at Aintree ”We are looking forward to starting afresh this time around at Aintree on Saturday, with a view to going to Haydock for the valuable 3m handicap hurdle on Betfair Chase day. After those races we can decide if we stick to hurdling or give fences another go.”
That means this race has been the plan all summer long, he has been trained to the minute for it and in the meantime managed to get himself a lovely handicap mark of 149.
IF THE CAP FITS is a top horse and we have already spoken about him winning a Grade 1 over 3 miles at Aintree when beating Roksana and Apples Jade but he has also won two grade 2s and placed in many other graded races.
Now throw into the mix Daryl Jacob who will be riding, a jockey who rides Haydock as good as anyone and we only have to mention Bristol De Mai to know that, who has won the Betfair Chase with, 3 times in the last 4 years with Jacob on board. He is an experienced jockey who knows IF THE CAP FITS like the back of hand and will have him in all the right places. We know our selection stays and we know if he has to get into a battle he will keep finding which are all the right attributes for a race of this sort. Furthermore he is 7th or 8th in the betting so we would be pretty hard done by if we clashed with the other 5 winners from last week. I also actually make him a 7/1 chance and should actually be around 3rd or 4th in the betting, given his class.
Another MASSIVE clue is the fact connections could have gone to Ascot for the Coral Hurdle TODAY which is not just any race but a race IF THE CAP FITS has won twice in 2018 and 2019. The fact they are swerving a race he has won twice in the past tells me just how well handicapped they feel he could be on a mark of 149.
Last but not least my late mother passed away recently, will be looking down on us and will be guiding us all the way. It was also one of her sayings as a hairdresser, when doing highlights in the kitchen as a kid, with the old fashioned highlight caps, IF THE CAP FITS, WEAR IT and that is without taking the race apart in as much detail as I just have.
Come on let’s do this and let’s think positively which so often breeds success.
SCOOP 6 BONUS SELECTION = IF THE CAP FITS