Rowleyfile Preview: Peter Marsh Chase 2018

There are a few things of which we can be almost certain regarding Saturday’s Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock and there are a few things that are very much unknown.

Rowleyfile Preview: Peter Marsh Chase 2018

There are a few things of which we can be almost certain regarding Saturday’s Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock and there are a few things that are very much unknown.

Hainan Picture:Photo by Mark Robinson/Getty Images

In the former category is that the ground will be deep – the Going Stick reading is currently 4.6, with showers forecast, and anything under 5.0 is emphatically heavy – which allied to the trip of more than three miles and a furlong will make for a thorough test.

A strong pace – which seems likely with four of those declared having Timeform EPFs of 2.2 or less (indicating a pace-forcing style) – will only accentuate that if it materialises.

In the latter category is, of course, the identity of what will win the race! But the Peter Marsh Chase does at least seem a bit more solvable than some of the other races featured in these previews: a baker’s dozen of runners sees to that.

A field of 13 also means that a win bet is favoured over an each-way bet given the mathematics involved. The win market was 119% and the place market 141% at best early prices: the latter is especially unappealing.

As usual, we can consider precedent as a means for guiding us to what may be expected in the future. The following are from 2005 onwards, with the race cancelled due to waterlogging, frost and snow respectively in 2008, 2011 and 2013.

This provides a neat example of one of the problems sometimes encountered with so-called trends. Young horses have outperformed chance in terms of the all-important place impact value and % of rivals beaten. There are three such horses in Saturday’s race, and each of them won their most recent race, which is a similarly strong negative!

In usual circumstances, last-time winners could be expected to be in the high-50s, or even in the 60s. In the last 10 renewals of the Peter Marsh Chase they have provided 18% of the runners but only 11% of the placed horses.

The positive performances by higher-weighted horses and horses with a good chance on Timeform weight-adjusted ratings are also there to be seen, as are the negative performances by horses with longer layoffs (though the sample is very small with horses off for more than 12 weeks).

Represented trainers with good records in handicaps since November are: Robert Walford (59% RB, Walk In The Mill Horseform), Sue Smith (58%, Hainan) and Kim Bailey (58%, Knockanrawley) in Britain, and Stuart Crawford (61%, Fine Rightly) in Ireland.

Now then, with all horses having positives and negatives – that is usually the case – it comes down to which of them appears to be over-priced, as is always the case. Value is everything, though value, as stated previously, is in the eye of the beholder (which may be judged only in the long-term and not by one-off events).

Having priced the race up independently, I found that only two horses were more than a point bigger at best early prices than on my book, and the recommendation is to split stakes between them.

They are Walk In The Mill and one of those last-time-winning seven-year-olds, Hainan.

The former is a “fancy him if he stays” proposition, though, sadly, bookmakers pay on the result and not on such nebulous contingencies! He is in good form and was coming back for more late on when third to Gold Present in the Silver Cup at Ascot last time.

This is Walk In The Mill’s first attempt at beyond three miles, and he is going to have to get the extra distance, and some. The impression is that he will.

The trip and the ground will be no worry for Hainan Horseform, who has been there, done that, and got the mud-spattered t-shirt. The Going Stick reading was 4.4 when he powered home in front by 12 lengths over three and a half miles in November, and the rise in his BHA mark from 132 to 140 looks far from harsh if he is in the same mood as then.

That “if” is another contingency on which bookmakers do not pay. Hainan can be rather in and out: another reason to back him win only rather than each way.

None of the above is to belittle the duo’s main rivals, but Rock The Kasbah Horseform (off for fully 98 days) and Tintern Theatre look pretty short at the head of the market all told. The combined odds of the two selections come out at just under 4/1 at early prices and make more appeal.

Recommendations: 1 pt win WALK IN THE MILL at 10/1 and 1 pt win HAINAN at 15/2

Latest Stories