Racing UK ambassador Harry Bentley goes through his three rides at Haydock on Saturday, has two for your Racing UK tracker and outlines his thoughts for the 32Red Sprint Cup at Haydock on Saturday.
On Saturday, I have three rides at Haydock beginning with Morando, trained by Roger Varian, in the Group Three 32Red Mile at 3.35.
He is very lightly raced, with very few miles on the clock for a four-year-old and was gelded at the end of last year, which I thought he did need. He's a quirky character, a bit of a boy at home. I'm not sure why he's been so lightly campaigned but I guess he's a soft-ground horse who they've just been protecting from running in races he doesn't need to.
The sire, Kendargent, is a popular stallion in France and tends to produce soft-ground specialists. For Morando, the softer the better. He handles it very well - he won on bottomless ground at Chester last year, so any further rain at Haydock would be no problem at all for him. He stays his mile very well and we haven't got to the bottom of him. He's not a horse you ride and get the impression he's giving his all so I think he could well have more to show.
I think he's definitely got a chance of winning the race, even though it's a strong Group Three. You've got the likes of Benbatl, who's stepping down in grade and is quite a smart horse who will definitely be the one to watch out for. Mitchum Swagger is coming into the race off a win and so too is Ballet Concerto. It's certainly a competitive race but I am confident Morando can perform well in it.
In the subsequent race, a handicap over 1m 6f, I am on Pumblechook for Mark Johnston. He will be stepping up in class but when I won on him at Newmarket he showed he stays and stays and is a very straightforward horse to ride. Stepping up in grade naturally will make it tougher for him but soft ground is not a problem for him having won in such conditions over this trip. He's obviously up a few pounds but will be getting weight from most of the others. When you are running over a trip on soft ground and you've got a light weight surely it must give you an advantage, but obviously there are extremes of ground on which some horses just won't run their races.
The last of my three Saturday rides at Haydock comes on the three-year-old Winston C, again over a 1m 6f trip. I've had a few rides for Michael Bell over the past few seasons but wouldn't get that many off him. He's only got 8st 8lb, which has to be a help but he'll need to step up a bit to be doing a lot of damage. I've got an each-way chance and we can run very respectably. These handicaps are very competitive and include horses rated over 100 so he needs to run seriously well to be troubling the judge.
On Sunday morning I'm flying out to Ireland for a ride in the Irish St Leger on Ralph Beckett's Mount Moriah. It's a nice ride to pick up but with Order Of St George and Dartmouth among the opponents he's going to clearly have to put in a big career best to get amongst them at the finish. He does stay and is a bit one-paced but I still don't know if 1m 6f is his ideal trip, though he did win nicely for me at Ascot over that distance, and was still going away at the finish. So he'll get the trip, that's not a problem. He was quite keen at Ascot that day for the early part of the race but the pace was very slow so I'll let him off for that.
Mount Moriah's stamina does give him a big tick in the box but in Order Of St George you are looking at another guaranteed stayer who has won both this race and the Gold Cup at Ascot so he's the obvious stand-out. When you're up against such a solid favourite you've still got to ride your horse and focus on your mount before you start worrying about what Order Of St George is doing. Of course you think about what tactics are required to get him beaten but you don't want to go out of your way to disadvantage others as you could then be adversely affecting yourself in the process.
I'll just go out there with the mind of positioning Mount Moriah where I want as I think I've got a good draw and just take the race from there. I won't be thinking too much about the favourite. I've not had many rides at The Curragh and have only ridden over the straight course there. It's a climbing finish but I've never ridden round the bend so I'll aim to get there early enough to have a run round the track once before racing to familiarise myself with the place.
On Wednesday, I rode a nice double on a couple of two-year-olds for Henry Candy - Claudine and Ortiz. Both were winning for the first time on their second starts and both are open to improvement. I can't really favour one over the other as they both showed plenty. Mr Candy's horses always improve off a run and they both did that, probably more so Claudine who really stepped up from her first run.
I was very happy with Ortiz who was very inexperienced on her debut at Windsor. I was confident of a big performance at Kempton in a race lacking depth and she showed me a bit of ability in winning her race.
32 Red Sprint Cup:
I don't have a ride in the 32Red Sprint Cup but will be an interested spectator for sure. The ground is really going to go against Harry Angel and if they have all the rain that's forecast you would have thought he might be a doubtful runner. Brando has really, really improved after winning the Ayr Gold Cup last year and has come a long way to then go on and win a Group One in France. The rain is obviously in his favour and he's going to have a huge, huge chance and is definitely the one to watch. Tasleet is a consistent horse and if he goes on the ground he would be one that you wouldn't want to write off either.