Confessional the answer to Be Friendly Handicap
Confessional looks weighted to land the Be Friendly Handicap at Haydock today (2.05) for a third time.
The Tim Easterby trained gelding won the race in 2010, and beat Harrison George by 3/4 of a length in last year’s renewal off a mark of 94.
The seven-year-old went on to finish a highly creditable fourth of 16 to Demora in a decent contest over course and distance off 100, and now gets into this off just 92.
That is 2lb lower than when winning 12 months ago, and gives Confessional major claims at the weights of landing the spoils yet again.
The son of Dubawi also signalled that his turn is near when finishing third in the 19-runner Great St Wilfrid over 6f at Ripon last month, where he led entering the final furlong before weakening close home to be beaten just 3/4 of a length.
That run suggested Confessional was peaking at just the right time for this contest, and the drop back to 5f looks sure to suit.
The return to this venue, where Confessional has won twice and run some of his best races in defeat, is another big plus and everything looks in place for a huge run.
The main danger would appear to be the in-form pair of Barnet Fair and Normal Equilibrium.
The former is a tough and consistent handicapper who got back to winning way last time out at Goodwood in a competitive 16-runner affair when beating Mission Approved by a short-head.
The six-year-old is now 6lb higher in the weights, but has been competitive off his current mark of 96 in the past and now gets the services of Richard Hughes in the saddle.
Normal Equilbrium is trained by Robert Cowell who does particularly well with his sprinters.
The four-year-old is not the easiest to win with and needs everything to drop right, but ran a stormer last week from a poor draw when third of 17 to Chilworth Icon at Sandown.
A repeat of that effort is sure to see the son of Elnadim bang in the mix at the business end of affairs.