Timeform UK SmartPlays: Wednesday March 20

Jamie Spencer rides the fancied Melvin The Grate at Kempton

Haydock's National Hunt card hosts our first two SmartPlays, with Kempton's all-weather track the venue for the third selection.

"Melvin The Grate was well backed to confirm his debut promise when landing a maiden over course-and-distance in November and he can take advantage of a fair-looking initial handicap mark..."

A winning hurdler who got off mark at second time of asking over fences in a three mile maiden in January, Zaru (14:10 Haydock) was in the process of dotting up in a handicap over that C&D earlier this month before victory was snatched away with a last-fence fall when at least 15 lengths clear. Although raised 5 lbs for that effort, and despite the eye-catching booking of AP McCoy on Lucinda Russell's Eyre Apparent, compensation awaits here.

Brave Spartacus> (16:50 Haydock) has been in fine form over fences this winter, the bold-jumping front runner landing a trio of Catterick events before taking a Doncaster handicap at the start of the month. His previous hurdles form is modest, but he should be suited by these "Fixed Brush" obstacles and a reproduction of his recent chasing exploits in this novice race should be enough to enable him to add to his tally.

Kempton hosts a fascinating seven-furlong event for three-year-olds where four of the six runners were successful on their last outing, and while Mystical Sapphire, Flashlight and Byroness all have the potential to improve further, the really interesting candidate is Melvin The Grate (20:15 Kempton). Costing 200,000 gns as a yearling and a brother to several smart winners, he was well backed to confirm his debut promise when landing a maiden over C&D in November and he can take advantage of a fair-looking initial handicap mark, perhaps on his way to much bigger things.

Timeform UK SmartPlays

Back Zaru @ 1.684/6 in the 14:10 at Haydock
Back Brave Spartacus @ 3.412/5 in the 16:50 at Haydock
Back Melvin The Grate @ 3.7511/4 in the 20:15 at Kempton

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