Humans and horses are very much creatures of habit, and so when it comes to campaigning and the subsequent performance of a racehorse, they can often follow quite distinct patterns. Often, these are self-fulfilling prophecies, but when a horse exhibits a tendency to run well in a particular race at a particular track at a particular time of year, the plan hatched by connections is often one that will play out in a similar fashion season after season.
I’m hoping that thought will be further emphasised on Friday at Exeter, as the runner-up of last year’s race, looks set to have a go at turning silver into gold in the 3.15, the Haldon Hill Handicap Chase, run over the stamina-sapping trip of 3m6½f.
Petite Power is the horse in question, and at 11/1 with William Hill, who offer 4 places for each-way purposes, he rates as a great opportunity to snaffle a generous looking price at even more generous place terms. With 19 currently entered, it would be a surprise if there were 16 or more final declarations, making the four places concession well worth grabbing now.
Back Petite Power in the Haldon Hill Handicap Chase on Friday with William Hill!
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As I mentioned, Petite Power was a gallant second in the race last year, when bumping into the progressive Belle Empress, who subsequently finished fourth and third in the Sussex and Devon Nationals on her next two starts. It was 19 lengths back to the third, and only 5 of the 11 runners finished.
It is true that he seemingly came into the race last year in better form than he does this time around. Wins at Cheltenham and Uttoxeter on his two previous starts in 2019 suggest so, but when you quickly glance at the times of his Cheltenham win in October 2019, compared with his recent Cheltenham fourth, then he actually ran a quicker race in defeat in his Cheltenham run this season, as opposed to his win last October.
Delve a little deeper again, and it’s not surprising that he found himself with plenty to do on the second circuit at Cheltenham three weeks ago, as the winner of that race Storm Control went stride for stride as quick in the middle section of the race as Coole Cody did in the Paddy Power Gold Cup a few hours later. Considering Petite Power was rated 127 going into that and essentially needs 3m4f+, and the Paddy Power Gold Cup is chock full of classy 2m4f horses, I think you can forgive him for getting a little detached!
But watch the final section of the race, and Petite Power comes home very strongly, and finishes still with running to give, to be beaten only 22 lengths by Storm Control in the end. Allied to his abundant show of stamina in the race last year, his clear retention of that ability at Cheltenham last time, and the fact that the handicapper has eased him 2lbs to a mark of 125 to guarantee him a run in this 0-125 handicap – it is hard not to be extremely bullish about his chances.
At 11/1 each-way with William Hill for the Haldon Hill Handicap Chase at 3.15 at Exeter on Friday, Petite Power rates as a strong hope to get yet another weekend’s racing off to a flying start (for all that he probably won’t be ‘flying’ at the finish!) I’d take a ‘plugging on’ victory instead…