YORKSHIRE trainer Sue Smith, who is enjoying an excellent campaign, can strike it rich today – on the other side of the Pennines.
Bingley-based Smith, who made a similar journey last April when winning the Grand National at Aintree with Auroras Encore, has Haydock in her sights this time with Vintage Star, who is fancied to lift the £50,000 Peter Marsh Chase, one of four Grade 2 races on this afternoon's programme.
A winner at Carlisle on his reappearance, Vintage Star was then narrowly beaten in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle before finishing a highly respectable sixth last month in the Coral Welsh National over the marathon trip of three and three-quarter miles, which seemed to stretch his stamina to the limit.
Vintage Star will be much more at home back over three miles and one furlong today and, although he faces some stiff opposition in this prestigious handicap, Ryan Mania’s mount is expected to make a bold bid.
Taquin Du Seuil can provide Tony McCoy with victory in the Racing Post Celebrates 200,000 Social Followers Novices’ Chase, the first of the quartet of Pattern races at Haydock.
A former smart hurdler, Jonjo O’Neill’s talented charge has taken well to fences and went down by less than a length to the high-class Oscar Whisky at Cheltenham last time. He can resume winning ways.
Stand To Reason makes plenty of appeal in the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Chase.
A former mid-90s handicapper on the Flat, Stand To Reason is now trained by Nicky Henderson and is two from two over hurdles after wins at Wincanton and Newbury. He looks destined for exciting things this season.
Paul Nicholls and Daryl Jacob can clinch the stanjames.com Champion Hurdle Trial with Ptit Zig, who looks a very useful recruit from France.
On his sole run to date for Nicholls, he finished second off a mark of 151 in the hotly-contested Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot.
On ratings, he has a huge chance in this non-handicap, but he can be expected to be given a tough race by North Yorkshire challenger Ifandbutwhynot. David O’Meara’s gelding was a Listed race winner at Newbury two starts back and has since run well in defeat at Musselburgh.
Nicholls and Jacobs can also win the G4S Events Graduation Chase with Benvolio, who, after falling on his fencing debut at Fontwell, redeemed himself in style with a good win at Newbury last month.
At Ascot, the feature race is the Grade 1 Sodexho Clarence House Chase, which sees Sire Du Grugy bidding to add to his impressive scoresheet.
Gary Moore’s eight-year-old has won in Grade 1 and Grade 2 company on his last two starts and, although his task at Kempton last time was made considerably easier when the previously unbeaten Sprinter Sacre was pulled up, he has been nothing short of impressive this season.
A 4lb rise for winning at Haydock last month may not stop Bobcatbilly from following up in the Rosling King LLP Novices’ Handicap Chase, while Robert Walford’s Carole’s Spirit, three from three this term, is selected to extend her unbeaten sequence in the OLBG.com Mares’ Hurdle.
12.20 Western Jo, 12.55 Benvolio, 1.30 Taquin Du Seuil, 2.05 Stand To Reason, 2.40 Ptit Zig, 3.15 Vintage Star (NAP), 3.50 Straidnahanna.
12.40 Handiwork, 1.15 Bobcatbilly, 1.50 Carole’s Spirit, 2.25 Citizenship, 3.00 Renard, 3.35 Sire Du Grugy, 4.05 Call The Cops.
Today’s other meetings: Taunton and Lingfield.
Tomorrow’s meetings: Kempton and Towcester.