Tony McFadden outlines the Timeform view on the action at Haydock on Saturday evening.
AL SHIBLI has made an encouraging start to his career and he should be up to defying a penalty in the seven-furlong novice (19:05). The fact Al Shibli was sent off 7/4 favourite in a good-quality conditions stakes on debut – in a race his trainer Richard Hannon tends to target – suggests that he is held in high regard by connections.
He was unable to reward that support at Newbury but shaped with plenty of promise in third, travelling well and holding every chance inside the final furlong. Al Shibli, who was just about the pick of the paddock at Newbury, progressed as expected for that initial experience and ran out an authoritative winner of a Chester maiden, quickly settling matters after hitting the front approaching the final furlong.
The form is not working out well, but a good time adds some substance to the performance and he is entitled to progress for this step up to seven furlongs.
RAINS OF CASTAMERE was only narrowly denied at Bath earlier this month and he has been found a good opportunity here in the mile handicap (20:05), the penultimate race on the card. Rains of Castamere finished last season on the up, winning successive handicaps at Windsor and Newmarket, and he made it three in a row on the Flat when striking at Pontefract on his reappearance in April.
He was then beaten at Nottingham, but he was by no means disgraced in third under a penalty, and he ran better than ever at Bath, where he was headed on the line. He should remain competitive from a 2 lb higher mark and this front-runner could be at a tactical advantage in a race without any other obvious pace angles.
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