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Horse Racing

Haydock Park – Saturday 19th February

Saturday 19th February 14:40

WhichBookie racing analyst Will Smith provides a preview of Saturday's William Hill Grand National Trial at Haydock Park

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Bookie Selection Best Odds Market Bet
Bristol De Mai 15/215/2 14.20 Haydock Park
each-way (4 places 1/5)
Place BetPlace Bet
Blaklion 13/213/2 14.20 Haydock Park
each-way (4 places 1/5)
Place BetPlace Bet

Date of Tips: 18/02/2022

Disclaimer The odds for these selections were correct at the time of publishing (10:12 18/02/2022) but may have changed since. Please check the latest price before placing your bet.

Hopefully Storm Eunice will not be as devastating as feared, and everyone stays safe amidst it all – and fingers crossed that Saturday’s meetings aren’t blown away or submerged under the torrential rains that could accompany it.

If Haydock Park passes it’s 8am inspection on Saturday, then it will be ‘Haydock heavy’, as we have come to love and expect from the Merseyside track. The weak, unfit or unsuitable need not apply, and that can sometimes help out with finding selections and winners.

A commonly held opinion is that when the ground gets desperate, you can sometimes get strange results. Not at Haydock usually – form in the deep Lancashire mud is a tried and tested angle.

So, with that in mind, there are two each-way bets to be had in the William Hill Grand National Trial at 2.40.

Six of the field have won at Haydock Park before, so we have plenty of horses to sift through when it comes to a liking for the hock-deep turf. But I’d wager that despite most of the field having younger legs, they wouldn’t be able to draw breath at the kind of cruising speed the two elder statesmen of the race can deploy – Bristol De Mai and Blaklion.

Let’s start with top weight and five-time course winner Bristol De Mai. Three of those Haydock wins of course came in the Grade 1 Betfair Chase, and you may look at his recent form figures, including two ‘P’s in his last three starts, and feel that his best days are firmly behind him.

Those ‘P’s however came in last season’s Grand National (always forgivable), and the Betfair Chase won by A Plus Tard in November last year – a renewal in which Bristol De Mai was forced to go too fast, too early, on ground too lively for him.

To his eternal credit, he was right in amongst it at the top of the straight, and when making a hash of three out, Daryl Jacob wisely pulled him up. It was still a big run from the dashing grey.

So, having been saved a hard race in the Betfair Chase, he duly signalled himself right back to form by running a gutsy race in 3rd in the inaugural running of the Fleur De Lys Chase at Lingfield Park’s Winter Million. Given the horses that were just under a length ahead of Bristol De Mai are both contesting the Grade 1 Ascot Chase on Saturday with live chances, over a trip shy of Bristol De Mai’s best – it was as good a run as many of his career.

At 15/2 each-way with Betfair Sportsbook for 4 places, Bristol De Mai is certainly no back number, and if anywhere near on song at 2.40 on Saturday, the rest of the field simply won’t see which way he goes.

The one horse who could have the ability to lay up and not completely bottom themselves is the Dan Skelton-trained Blaklion, who Bristol De Mai’s trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies will know plenty about, having trained him for years, and will rightly be wary of the threat he holds.

At 13/2 each-way with Betfair Sportsbook for 4 places, Blaklion is also worth supporting in the William Hill Grand National Trial at 2.40, as his two recent course victories have been effortless. While if you note just how much spring he had left in his hooves over the last two fences when winning over course and distance last time, the you would suggest he has the tools to cope with everything Bristol De Mai could throw at this field.

Sam Brown, Secret Reprieve, Enqarde and Lord Du Mesnil are worthy of respect, but I really do wonder whether they have the capabilities to gallop as fast, for as far, as a peak Bristol De Mai, or indeed Blaklion. I can envisage the class and experience of those two lasting out, and at 15/2 and 13/2 respectively each-way with Betfair Sportsbook, they are without doubt the way to play the race.

Elsewhere on the card, I came close to suggesting backing last year’s Rendlesham Hurdle winner Third Wind at 9/2 to repeat the dose, but a combination of a skinny enough price and wanting to have seen slightly more from him at Warwick last time, means I have reluctantly passed.

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