Volnay De Thaix can brush aside Haydock rivals
Volnay De Thaix looked a class act when bolting up on seasonal reappearance and can make light of top weight to follow-up in the fixed brush handicap hurdle at Haydock today (2.25).
The Nicky Henderson trained gelding was a very smart novice last season when winning three of his five races and running well behind the likes of Irving and Lac Fontana.
The five-year-old looked far from the finished article and the type who would improve significantly once he had strengthened up.
That view was confirmed when a much stronger looking Volnay De Thaix reappeared at Huntingdon 11 days ago and made a mockery of his mark of 144 to win impressively by four lengths.
The son of Secret Singer travelled strongly throughout, and after leading on the bit two out cruised clear to beat a useful yardstick in Conquisto with any amount in hand.
It was a performance which suggested Volnay De Thaix could be far better than a handicapper, and he gets into this contest under just a 5lb penalty.
That makes Volnay look a handicap blot as he is due to go up 14lbs and is officially 9lb “well-in” at the weights.
Providing this race doesn’t come too soon, Volnay De Thaix is going to be very tough to beat despite having to shoulder 12st in what is a very competitive contest.
Trainer David Pipe has a tremendous record in the contest, and Katkeau looks him main contender given that stable jockey Tom Scudamore has decided to partner him over Vieux Lion Rouge.
The Nicholashayne handler has been successful in the race with Grands Crus (2010), Dynaste (2011) and Gevrey Chambertin (2013), and in Katkeau has a unexposed type who put in a tremendous performance to beat Big Easy in a decent contest at Cheltenham seven days ago after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
That was the seven-year-old’s first run for 630 days, and he has obvious claims under a 5lb penalty.
The big fear is whether Katkeau could “bounce” turned out so quickly given that he has clearly had training problems, but in receipt of 20lbs from Volnay De Thaix the son of Kotky Bleu is a major player if that doesn’t prove to be the case.