Mark Howard Publications Ltd

Saturday Review

24-January-2021 13:16
in General
by Admin

Despite 93mm of rainfall in 48 hours earlier in the week, plus heavy snowfall on Saturday morning, the seven race card at Haydock Park went ahead. It was a tremendous effort by all the groundstaff at the Merseyside track. I was working for Racing TV and, despite the fact an 8.00am inspection had been passed, it was still far from certain racing would go ahead when I arrived a couple of hours earlier with plenty of snow in the carpark and around the paddock etc. Thankfully, the meeting went ahead by 'a hair's breadth' and we were treated to some terrific action.

The Peter Marsh has been won by some top-class chasers over the years. including Cheltenham Gold Cup winners, but it is fair to say the three miles one contest has lost its lustre in recent decades. However, the Grade 2 event recaptured its glory days on Saturday with the progressive Royale Pagaille producing an superb performance to win by sixteen lengths without coming off the bridle. Regardless of those in behind, it takes a very good horse to lump 11st 10lb off a rating of 156 on heavy ground and destroy seven rivals in such a manner. Bought for €70,000 at the Arqana Sale in France in November 2018, the Blue Bresil gelding only won one of his ten races for Francois Nicolle. Well held in two novice chases last term, the seven year old has been a revelation this season winning three out of three. Rated 135 when winning at Haydock in earlu December, he had already climbed twenty one pounds prior to Saturday's demolition. Venetia Williams is one of the best planners in the business and she had the forsight to enter the Rich and Susannah Ricci owned gelding in the Cheltenham Gold Cup earlier this month. Indeed, he holds entries in the Gold Cup, RSA Chase, Marsh NC and National Hunt Chase at the Festival. Much will depend on whether the Irish horses are allowed to run at Cheltenham in March because the Ricci's are also responsible for the ante-post market leader in the RSA Chase, namely Monkfish. It remains to be seen whether soft or heavy ground is a necessity for Royal Pagaille but he is a hugely exciting horse and it would be no surprise if he was steered towards steeplechasing's Blue Riband. Much like the yard's star chaser of the late 1990's Teeton Mill (won the Badger Ales, Hennessy, King George & Ascot Chase during the 1998/99 season), it is as though he has emerged from nowhere. I text Rich (Ricci) shortly after the race and he replied "gives us great options."

The Grade 2 novices' chase over two and a half miles which opened the card has also been won by some top-class horses, including Nahthen Lad, My Way De Solzen, Diamond Harry, Bristol De Mai and Waiting Patiently. The race was robbed of plenty of interest when favourite Allart came to grief halfway down the backstraight. However, I think time will show the finish was dominated by some smart novices. Silver Hallmark had shaped well on his fencing bow at Exeter and stayed on strongly to go one better under Adam Wedge. Not entered at the forthcoming Festival, Fergal O'Brien's gelding hasn't had much racing during the last couple of seasons and must be delicate. There is no doubt the seven year old has a lot of ability though and is the sort to win a big prize one day, if kept in one piece. His jockey feels three miles will be his trip in time but is quick enough for the intermediate distance at present. Four and a half lengths back in second was Marown who ran well considering he was rated ten pounds inferior to the winner beforehand. Nicky Richards' gelding had an alternative entry at Catterick on Wednesday but his connections chose to run here instead. He certainly wasn't disgraced and is another who will benefit from further in time. Even on heavy ground, two and a half miles around Haydock looked sharp enough. I spoke to his jockey Sean Quinlan afterwards and will pass on his thoughts in the February Update, which will be published this time next week.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable day at Haydock - the journey there was a bit ropy at times and the weather was hardly tropical but everyone at the track did a brilliant job and the racing was very good. We are currently living in horrible times with so many restrictions in place and I am fortunate to be allowed to go racing. It is just nice to get out of the house.

I haven't had the opportunity to review all the action at Ascot but there were some decent performances at Taunton during the same afternoon. Declan Phelan flagged up Stellar Magic (7/2) in his Irish Pointers section in OJA and the Philip Hobbs trained gelding made it two from two under Rules with another polished performance. The six year old was recorded his second course and distance win as he edged out the 128 rated Alaphilippe by three parts of a length, in receipt of four pounds from Fergal O'Brien's runner-up. It will be interesting to see what handicap mark the Arctic Cosmos gelding is allocated and where he heads next. A strong traveller who jumps well, he is very much one for the future.

The weather continues to play havoc with the jump racing with Sunday's action wiped out, plus the card at Market Rasen on Monday has already gone by the wayside. Plumpton and Kelso must pass inspections if their meetings are able to take place in the next 48 hours, while I am hoping to go to Catterick on Wednesday but the overnight temperatures are not favourable (track currently frozen in places). In the meantime, I am cracking on with the February Update - please head to the Publications section of the site to order a copy, if you haven't already done so. 


  • “Thank you for a very successful and profitable email service. My personal highlight was the win of Aloomomo whose romp round Uttoxeter was a joy. Keep up the good work with all your services, the books and updates, they are simply the best by a very long way.”


  • “Just want to say thanks for running the service again this year, I have ended up with a nice £756 profit from it so I'm obviously very happy with that so thanks a lot!”


  • “Thanks for your email Mark would just like to say your selections and insight has been awesome. Keep up the good work sir your service is the best.”


  • “Thank you for an excellent tipping service throughout the three months. It has been a pleasure and profitable to be a member of your service. Your indepth knowledge and analysis of the race has been excellent. I honestly rate your service as one of the best and most profitable.”


  • “Thanks very much for the fantastic service you have supplied, I have been involved with racing tipsters for over 30 years and never had as good a strike rate as yourself, out of this world.”


  • “The email service as usual has been brilliant and this season's OJA seems to continue to unearth amazing insight if you have the time to trust and follow it in detail over a period. Thanks as always for your outstanding value for money publications.”


  • “Superb information again Mark, I managed to get some 11/4, will certainly pay for Xmas. Different class.”


  • “Awesome result the magicman strikes again. Won with plenty in hand and not a moments worry great write up spot on again and results speak for themselves best service I've tried, keep up the fantastic work sir. Very happy customer!”


Contact Us

Mark Howard Publications Ltd.
69 Fairgarth Drive
Kirkby Lonsdale

015242 71826

015242 79010