Barrow bids for Haydock Gold

PAT HUGHES is hoping Point Barrow can boost his claims for the John Smith’s Grand National with a good performance in Saturday’s Red Square Vodka Gold Cup at Haydock.

The 2006 Irish Grand National winner was a first-fence casualty at Aintree last April but has been coming to hand steadily this term as he bids to put the record straight this spring.

The 10-year-old gelding was a gallant fourth in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park last month in testing conditions.

“Point Barrow has come out of his run in the Thyestes Chase really well and he showed some real ability under top weight on that occasion,” said Hughes.

“He’ll love good to soft ground on Saturday. He always runs a decent race on faster ground in the spring but I think he’s slightly better with a bit of cut under him.

“He sported blinkers for the first time at Gowran Park and they seemed to help him lay up early on in the race, so he will be wearing them again on Saturday.

“This will be his last run before going to Aintree for the Grand National in April.

“He’s fit, well and has always been a horse for the second half of the season, so I’m hopeful for a good show on Saturday.”

Pat Fahy’s Nuaffe in 1995 is the only Irish-trained winner of the Haydock marathon while Arthur Moore’s King Johns Castle, runner-up in the Pierse Handicap Chase at Leopardstown, is the other potential challenger from across the water.

Ossmoses, successful in 2006, may aim to become the first dual winner while last year’s runner-up L’Aventure could try to give Paul Nicholls a second triumph in the race following Shotgun Willy in 2003. The champion trainer has also left in Geeveem and Opera Mundi, while Simon now has top weight following the defection of Madison Du Berlais after 24 horses stood their ground at the five-day stage.

Coral Welsh National hero Miko De Beauchene is favourite at 5-1 with Blue Square and 6-1 with Ladbrokes to give Robert and Sally Alner further success after the victory of The Listener in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Leopardstown on Sunday.

David Williams of Ladbrokes said: “If Miko De Beauchene lines up he’ll take some stopping. The yard is bang in form, he stays forever and because he’s one of the few leading contenders without a Grand National entry, this could be his big day at Haydock.”

Blue Square spokesman George Primarolo added: “Although winners of the Red Square Vodka Gold Cup have not covered themselves in glory in recent years, this race still remains an important Grand National trial and Saturday’s winner should leap to the forefront of the Aintree betting.

Red Square Vodka Gold Cup betting:

Ladbrokes: 6-1 Miko De Beauchene, 8-1 Point Barrow, Simon, 9-1 Geeveem, 10-1 Bewleys Berry, King Johns Castle, Opera Mundi, Over The Creek, 11-1 Captain Corelli, D’Argent, 12-1 Philson Run, 14-1 bar.

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