By Andrew Atkinson
Top-weight Definitly Red (2.40) heads a field of 10 for the £75,000 G2 Peter Marsh 3m 1f Handicap Chase at Haydock Park on Saturday, January 18, Peter Marsh Chase Day.
Definitly Red (6-1) tipped each way, trained by Brian Ellison and ridden by Henry Brooke, carrying 11st 10lb, raced in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2018 and 2019.
The 11-year-old, who is a four-time G2 victor over fences, ran creditably in handicap company last time out, when fourth in the G3 Randox Health Becher Handicap Chase at Aintree on December 7.
Acting Lass (Harry Fry/Sean Bowen) and Prime Venture (Evan Williams/Isabel Williams, 7) are looking to back up good performances over the festive period.
Acting Lass was just denied by Regal Encore in a valuable three-mile Listed handicap chase at Ascot on December 21, while Prime Venture stayed-on to take a close fourth in the G3 Welsh Grand National on December 27.
Anthony Honeyball is expecting a bold showing from progressive mare Midnight Tune, ridden by Aidan Coleman, under 10st 4lb. A G2 winner over hurdles, the nine-year-old relished testing conditions, when landing mares’ novices’ chases at Uttoxeter and Exeter on her two most recent outings.
“Midnight Tune is in great form. This race has been the target and is essentially her Gold Cup,” said Honeyball.
“She won nicely at Exeter last time – where she made all the running – and jumped soundly before keeping on strongly.
“She relishes testing ground conditions and, whilst Saturday is a big test, she is a thorough stayer and I hope she can run a big race,” he added.
Trainer Sue Smith and jockey Danny Cook team up with Vintage Clouds, who was third over the course and distance in the Betway Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase on December 21.
Smith and Cook partnership won the Peter Marsh Handicap Chase with Wakanda (2019) and Cloudy Too (2016). Cook is the joint-most successful jockey of all time in the race, with three wins, having won on David Pipe-trained Our Vic in 2010.
Champers On Ice 10st 10lb – tipped each-way – trained by David Pipe and ridden by Tom Scudamore, returns to chasing after a successful first half of the campaign over hurdles.
After handicap successes at Ffos Las and Newbury, Champers On Ice (7-1) finished third of 11 at Cheltenham on December 13, carrying 11st 7lb.
Scottish-trained challenger Geronimo (Sandy Thomson/Ryan Mania) and Claud And Goldie (Sandy Forster/Richie McLernon) were both successful on their latest starts, winning handicap chases at Newcastle and Kelso, respectively.
Flying Angel (Nigel Twiston-Davies/Sam Twiston-Davies), a G1-winning novice chaser at Aintree in 2017, and Red Indian (Kelly Morgan/Ben Jones, 5) complete the line-up.
The £75,000 G2 The New One Unibet Hurdle (3.15), over 2m, which serves as a trial for the Unibet Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
Pentland Hills, tipped, trained by Nicky Henderson, the winner of last season’s G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle, is the 6-4 favourite with Unibet.
Stablemate Call Me Lord and G1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle victor Cornerstone Lad, trained by Micky Hammond, also go to post.
The New One Unibet Hurdle – Unibet betting: 6/4 Pentland Hills, 7/2 Call Me Lord, 4/1 Cornerstone Lad, 9/2 Ballyandy, 5/1 Darasso, 10/1 Song For Someone, 12/1 Ribble Valley, 25/1 Minella Charmer, 66/1 Eleanor Bob.
The G2 contests on the card are the £32,000 Patrick Coyne Memorial Altcar Novices’ Chase (1.30), over 2m 4f, with eight entries and the £30,000 Sky Bet Supreme Trial Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle (2.05), over 2m, with 11 entries.
The going at Haydock Park is Heavy. Further rain expected. More information is available at haydock.thejockeyclub.co.uk