Given the mid-tier nature of this fixture, there are no outstanding performers, but Cause Toujours has the remarkable record of trading odds-on in every race he has contested except one, and the exception was the Grade 1 Champion Bumper in 2017. Even then he started favourite!
14:05 Challenger Two Mile Hurdle Series Final Handicap Hurdle
Do you want to back a horse who has traded odds on in defeat on its last four runs? I do, and while that may seem a risky strategy, it is mitigated by playing the place market with Cause Toujours in this competitive affair. The selection, as might be expected, is a very smooth traveller who does all his running on the bridle, and has been known to find very little under pressure.
I fully expect him to travel like the wrath of God into this contest, and I believe he will win, but am happy to hedge my bets given how alarmingly he emptied having looked certain to win over C&D back in November.
On that occasion, he looked all set to hand out a drubbing to Grand Sancy only to tie up in the dying yards. That run in Listed company was hardly shabby, with the winner going on to be second in the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle, before going on to slam Champion Chase third Sceau Royal and Vision des Flos in the Grade 2 Kingwell Hurdle.
I’m not a huge fan of relying on collateral form, but it’s worth digging through those runs to show how well treated Cause Toujours is.
He looked all over Grand Sancy in that C&D event, with the well-regarded Denmead beaten out of sight. Denmead bolted up at Wetherby late last month, while Grand Sancy beat Sceau Royal at Wincanton. Sceau Royal traded odds on to beat Altior at Cheltenham, and Vision des Flos beat If The Cap Fits at Fontwell. If The Cap Fits then won a Grade 1 hurdle at Aintree from Roksana and Apple’s Jade.
There are some huge names in those intertwining form lines, and Cause Toujours, who won after an absence on his first start for Ian Williams, is meeting an altogether different calibre of horse here. It’s a short price that he’s had this race on his agenda for some time, with his trainer a very good placer of his horses, and the track is ideal for his style, so he should be a huge player, and the worry about him producing off the bridle is offset by the generosity of his price in the place market.
16:55 Tim Molony Handicap Chase
Few here are at all convincing on recent evidence, including Mustmeetalady, but Jonjo O’Neill’s nine-year-old has fallen to a lenient mark, and he is now just 1lb higher than when winning this race two years ago. All his wins have come on left-handed tracks and below Class 1 level, and he’s best on good ground, so it’s easy to forgive his efforts since winning off a higher mark at Doncaster last season.
He’s not had conditions to suit in three runs during the winter, but they have served their purpose, and he can get back on track for his trainer and jockey son.
2:05 Haydock – Back Cause Toujours to win @ 9.0 or bigger [5pts]
2:05 Haydock – Back Cause Toujours to place @ 2.9 or bigger [15pts]
4:55 Haydock – Back Mustmeetalady to win @ 6.0 or bigger [5pts]
Your host Tom Stanley is joined by Sam Turner & Donn McClean to look ahead to a Bumper Weekend of Racing including the Irish Grand National from Fairyhouse on Easter Monday.