The only thing that might match the number of race meetings on this busiest of Saturdays, is the number of mm’s of rain to fall up and down the country. Without a doubt, it will be prudent to exercise just a little bit of caution with your selections, until you know exactly what the ground is like at each of the nine designated venues.
One meeting that is sure to be run on very testing ground is the annual mixed card at Haydock Park, featuring the Pertemps Network Swinton Handicap Hurdle at 3.10. Given the value, with a winners’ pot of £56,950, and also, it’s prominence as a late spring target for decent handicap hurdlers who want a sound surface, today’s set of conditions might scupper a few well-laid plans.
One horse who certainly won’t be disadvantaged by the rain falling, is the Irish raider Shanroe, who is 7/1 with BetVictor and 888 Sport, who are offering five places for each-way bets. Shanroe was a ready winner of a competitive handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse five weeks ago, in which plenty of the vanquished have advertised the form since. Most notably, Jiving Jerry who won at the Punchestown Festival, and was among a host of horses to run well from the Fairyhouse race at the Punchestown showpiece.
Shanroe has swiftly developed into the high-class horse that he always promised to be for Karl Thornton. While the Irish and UK handicappers have combined with a one-two combo by raising him a whopping 21lbs in the handicap, today’s race won’t be about who might be a pound or two ahead of the assessor. It will very much be about who is fit, in form, and likely to handle conditions.
Shanroe’s last two runs on the flat showed his ability to handle soft ground, by winning at Listowel, and then running on into fourth in the November Handicap at Naas, when undone by a slow pace. It seems connections have learnt a little from that day, as he was prominently ridden at Fairyhouse, and that will be a likely positive around Haydock Park on this kind of ground also.
Being fit, in form and able to handle mud are also comments that you can apply to Nordic Combined, and I wouldn’t talk you down from backing him each-way also. Neither would it surprise if Thistimenextyear had been trained with this as a target, given he caught the eye from an unpromising position in a race at Aintree, where plenty of the market principals for today’s Swinton Hurdle were ahead of him.
But they might all have to go to catch Shanroe, and at 13/2 with BetVictor, he is the each-way bet of the day in the Swinton Hurdle at 3.10 at Haydock Park.