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Haydock preview: Old Borough Cup (14.35)

Battersea shaped better than the bare result on seasonal reappearance and looks decent value to land the 1m 6f Old Borough Cup at Haydock (14.35).

The Roger Varian trained colt progressed throughout last season when landing back-to-back competitive class 2 contests at Ascot.

In the last of those, the four-year-old showed a good turn of foot to beat Gwafa by 1/2 lengths off a mark of 90.

That race has thrown up plenty of subsequent winners, including Agent Murphy and Second Step who are now rated 117 and 118 respectively, and the form looks extremely strong in the context of this contest.

Although not at his best on his final start of 2014 when well-beaten at Newmarket, Battersea was clearly not right that day and shaped far better than his finishing position suggests when eighth of 14 in the Old Newton Cup over course and distance on return to action in July.

Ascot Races

Battersea travelled powerfully for much of the contest until being unable to find any extra two from home and being allowed to come home in his own time to be beaten just over five lengths.

The assessor has since dropped the well-bred son of Galileo 1lb to a mark of 97, and that looks very exploitable on the pick of his form.

To me, Battersea looks the type who has plenty more to offer and could possibly be a pattern performer in the making, and another plus is that the yard does extremely well with its runners at the venue.

High Secret has a progressive profile and looks an obvious danger.

The four-year-old is a typical improver from the Sir Mark Prescott yard who notched his third win of the campaign 14 days ago when easily landing a minor contest at Killarney by two lengths.

Although now 2lb higher in the weights, High Secret remains open to further progress and Prescott runners are rarely far away in big handicaps like this.

Coral’s top tip: Battersea is on a potentially handy mark and looks decent value to land the spoils. High Secret looks the one to give him most to think about.