Saturday 21 July 2018

Headway to give Haggas first Lingfield win of the year

Some of trainer Nick Gifford’s charges on the Findon gallops in West Sussex yesterday. Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Some of trainer Nick Gifford’s charges on the Findon gallops in West Sussex yesterday. Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Wayne Bailey

At the time of writing, racing is scheduled to take place at Lingfield, Chelmsford and Newcastle although in this weather, nothing is guaranteed.

Not surprisingly, a lot of meetings have been cancelled because of the snow and ice and, ironically enough, not even the all-weather meetings have been safe.

Lingfield was cancelled yesterday and faces an 8am inspection this morning. Fingers crossed it goes ahead as there's a few interesting betting opportunities which could boost the funds ahead of Cheltenham.

With a win rate of just under one in four since 2008, I'll always consider backing William Haggas on the all-weather at Lingfield, although, surprisingly enough, he's yet to have a winner there in 2018 with his seven runners. He hasn't gone off the boil though, and four of those horses came second in their races including his last three runners there.

Sometimes the horses just aren't good enough, sometimes they bump into an unexposed talented sort, and other times the losses are just down to pure bad luck - but I've no doubt that Haggas' horses will continue to give a good account of themselves at the track this year.

Of course, you have to be careful when sifting through stats and try not to cherry-pick the figures that back up your argument for betting on a particular horse.

But ahead of the Listed 32Red Spring Cup Stakes (3.30) for which his entry Headway is the 5/4 early market leader, it might be worth noting that Haggas has a strike-rate of 40pc with favourites at Lingfield, and that he has also proved profitable to back in Listed races there with nine winners from 24 bets in the last 10 years.

Trainer stats aside, Headway still looks a decent bet this afternoon and if the official ratings are accurate, he has 3lbs in hand over nearest rival Bengali Boys for Richard Fahey, which is trading at 9/2 at the time of writing. Both horses last raced 189 days ago at York, but not in the same race, with Bengali Boys the beaten favourite when third in a Listed contest.

Headway was also (a dead-heat) third last time but it was in the Group Two Gimcrack, and along with his second place by a head in the Coventry Stakes at Ascot, he's got the form in the book to take this.

Juvenile form doesn't always carry through but that's the nature of this race, and you can only judge on what you've seen and hope the horses remain consistent. The one worry is that he's yet to race on Polytrack but otherwise all looks good, and connections have said that he's done very well over the winter. While he wouldn't be a maximum bet, I'll have enough cash on him that it will hurt if he loses.

Mark Johnston's Rufus King is also worth a mention having won a nursery at Newmarket when last seen back in October, although I get the feeling from Johnston that they are testing the water to see where exactly the gelding is at right now out of handicap company once again.

EACH-WAY

Chelmsford is also subject to an 8am inspection today and should racing go ahead, consider backing the Alan King-trained William Hunter each-way, the outsider of the pack in the Totequadpot Races 3 To 6 Handicap, priced around 16/1.

Admittedly, his second-last place in a seven-runner handicap at Lingfield doesn't inspire confidence and he was previously below form when last of seven in a similar race here at the end of January - but the handicapper has dropped him a couple of pounds and he's back in with a chance of placing at the least with a rating of 80.

A winner off 82 in the past, he's had a few races over hurdles too and almost won a maiden at Plumpton. He raced off the pace last time, but he expended a lot of energy when pushing on to take the lead midway through the race, 0a move which may have been premature.

TODAY'S SELECTIONS

2.55 Lingfield: Royal Birth (e/w)

3.30 Lingfield: Headway

4.35 Lingfield: Porrima

5.45 Chelmsford: Kodiac Express

6.45 Chelmsford: William Hunter (e/w)

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