The Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle at Haydock has unearthed some good horses in recent years – none more so than 2019 Stayers’ Hurdle champ Paisley Park – and I think we could see another on Saturday.
MIGHT I made a huge impression on me when beating the now 142-rated chaser Thunder Rock by 11 lengths on deep ground at Newton Abbot on his hurdles debut in October last year – so much so that I backed him blind next time out at Sandown, which in hindsight was like throwing money down the drain as he bumped into a certain Constitution Hill.
‘Bumping into one’ was the story of the rest of his season, to be honest. Next time out he had to settle for the places after meeting the short-priced Arkle favourite Jonbon in G2 company, and then in his last run of the season he was second to Gordon Elliott’s very exciting Three Stripe Life who had just finished second in a Ballymore.
I think it’s fair to say he’s unlikely to come up against anything of that calibre on Saturday when he runs in a handicap for the first time off what I believe to be an exploitable mark of 142. I’d be extremely disappointed if this horse isn’t better than that.
Not only do I think he’s well-handicapped, but I’m also expecting Might I to improve for the step up to three-miles. He shapes like that will be the case in his races, and as a son of Stowaway and half-brother to National Hunt Chase winner Stattler he ticks the boxes on breeding too.
His trainer Harry Fry shares my enthusiasm about the six-year-old tackling longer trips, saying: “We feel he could be progressive stepping up in trip. It’ll be interesting to see if he can progress into a horse of that [Graded staying hurdle division] calibre.”
The ground, which is soft (good to soft in places) at time of writing, won’t be an inconvenience. Even if it becomes heavy, Might I’s form doesn’t indicate that will be an issue – although it’s admittedly hardly ideal on your first venture up in trip, after a 224-day lay-off.
Of those in opposition, Run For Oscar is an obvious concern for the prolific Charles Byrnes team – as is Sam Thomas’ Good Risk At All, who for me poses by far the greatest threat with fitness on his side. Complete Unknown for the red-hot Paul Nicholls is one to be wary of too.
But ultimately I am expecting big things from Might I this season and, if he’s even nearly as good as I think he will be over 3m this season, he’s a good bet at 9/2.