12.10 - Betfair Weighed In Podcast Newton Novices' Hurdle (Listed, 1m7½f)
MIGHT I made a very strong start to his hurdling career at Newton Abbot (2m2½f, heavy) last month, moving with major intent throughout before kicking clear at the second last in the style of a good horse.
Trainer Harry Fry landed the same event with subsequent Grade 1 winner Metier last season and, with the second home Thunder Rock scoring decisively at Wetherby last Saturday, this gelded some of Fame And Glory comes into this race with excellent prospects.
French import Sonigino is one to note for Paul Nicholls on his first start for the Ditcheat handler. He has winning hurdles form from Auteuil and, while that's hard enough to quantify, he is of interest despite carrying a penalty.
It's Good To Laugh is going the right way for Jennie Candlish and remains unbeaten over timber, though this is much tougher, while Barrichello was an easy winner at Bangor 10 days ago for trainer Donald McCain. He swept clear of the field that day and, if this drop in trip doesn't catch him out, he should go well again in this classier event.
Selection: Might I
Next Best: Barrichello
12.40 - Because We're Betfair Stayers' Handicap Chase (3m4½f)
Two-time chase winner DEFUTURE IS BRIGHT faced a thankless task on his seasonal bow at Newton Abbot early last month when staring down the likes of Bravemansgame and Fusil Raffles.
No shocks that he was tailed off there but Christian Williams' charge has since posted a better effort at Cheltenham (3m1f, good) in an Amateur Jockeys' Handicap Chase and he can build on that now. A mistake at the third last didn't help his case that day and, with a tax on stamina increased here, Jack Tudor's mount looks a key player.
Jersey Bean should be sharper for his comeback effort at Cheltenham last month and could go well, while Truckin Away - fourth behind Jersey Bean at Exeter a year ago - could have more to offer at this sort of distance on his seasonal comeback and has won after a lay-off before.
Selection: Defuture Is Bright
Next Best: Truckin Away
1.15 - Betfair Pays Tribute To Andy Stewart Handicap Hurdle (2m3f)
Navajo Pass had some good form last season before disappointing in the Kingwell Hurdle on his final run. The Donald McCain team are in useful form right now and a bold showing isn't ruled out, though he's got to give a good bit of weight to some useful rivals now, including stablemate Mackenberg - the mount of Brian Hughes.
He was third on his comeback, but that leaves him with ground to make up on Our Surprise for Harry Fry.
He did plenty wrong last time at Wetherby over this sort of trip but still managed to finish second. He was headstrong and gets a hood added, so he's a contender.
TOMMY'S OSCAR has four wins and four more placed efforts from nine hurdles starts. He's made the frame in runs at Wetherby and Carlisle last month and the form of that latter third took a boost when the runner-up won this week at Market Rasen.
A winning pointer in the past over 3m, he's unexposed at this distance and the sort to do better.
Selection: Tommy's Oscar
Next Best: Our Surprise
1.50 - Double Daily Rewards With Betfair Graduation Chase (2m5½f)
Pay The Piper found only Fiddlerontheroof too good at Carlisle last time and is no mug, while Itchy Feet was a Grade 1-winning novice in this code and, after running some excellent races in defeat last season, gave Allmankind a scare in the Old Roan at Aintree (2m4f, good) last month in receipt of 7lb (also third in Melling Chase there in the spring).
That being said, BRAVEMANSGAME is expected to be amongst Britain's leading novice chasers this season and Paul Nicholls' inmate was foot perfect in last month's Newton Abbot introduction.
Getting weight, he dished out a comprehensive beating to subsequent Charlie Hall winner Fusil Raffles and while this is potentially going to be prove more of a test on the terms, it will feel like a bit of letdown if Harry Cobden's partner doesn't come up with the answers.
Next Best: Itchy Feet
2.25 - Betfair Exchange Stayers' Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3, 3m)
Main Fact's win in this race a year ago provided trainer David Pipe with a fourth success since 2010 and the Pond House handler has seen the colours of BRINKLEY come up trumps in this event in the past.
The ex-Irish gelding made a winning start for this trainer at Exeter (2m4½f, soft) in February 2020 and would win races at Wincanton and Exeter on heavy ground last season before finishing midfield in the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival off a mark of 148.
He's 2lb lower now and while his best form is on soft/heavy going, he's not had much racing on better ground and he remains unexposed at this distance. Tom Scudamore's mount is likely primed for this contest, given the Pipe record in the race.
Ask Dillon is on a workable mark for Fergal O'Brien and gets a 7lb claimer to assist, while If The Cap Fits is a former Grade 1 winner over this trip and dangerously handicapped if he can improve from his comeback second at Aintree over shorter a fortnight ago.
Riggs was an eyecatcher at the Merseyside venue over 2m4f himself last month for the Skeltons and is well worth another go at this trip having fallen when looking dangerous at Uttoxeter in April, while Flight Deck scored on comeback at Wetherby (3m, good) last month and should have more to give from a 3lb higher mark for the Jonjo O'Neill tag-team.
Next Best: Riggs
3.00 - Betfair Chase (Grade 1, 3m1½f)
An interesting eight-runner renewal of this early-winter Grade 1 event. Bristol De Mai has won three of the last four and finished second to Lostintranslation in 2019 - the only defeat in six Haydock starts in his career. Dubbed a mud-lover by some, he won this on good ground in 2018 and conditions should not be a problem.
Nigel Twiston-Davies' string are in fine fettle and the grey won't relinquish this without a major scrap. The record of horses aged ten-and-older however isn't great, with only three winners in the 16-year history of this race.
That's also a negative for Waiting Patiently, so often a nearly-horse for Ruth Jefferson at the highest level over a variety of trips. He was second in a King George last season but, now with Christian Williams, this stamina test isn't entirely sure to be for him.
Paul Nicholls has won six of these (four with Kauto Star, two with Silviniaco Conti) and the champion trainer has been talking up Next Destination's chances. He's said to be fit and ready, while first-time cheekpieces are applied. He's a strong stayer but this is his toughest assignment and, on ratings, he's got plenty to find.
Gold Cup silver-medallist A PLUS TARD is top-rated by 6lb and could become the first Irish-trained winner of this race. Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore were responsible for so much of the Irish domination on British soil back in the spring and this Cheveley Park-owned 7YO has never finished out of the money in 11 chase starts.
He needed every yard to win the Savills Chase over 3m at Leopardstown last Christmas and stayed the extra two-furlongs strongly in the Gold Cup. While he's got a habit of finishing second on his seasonal bow as a chaser, he's still the one to beat.
Royale Pagaille was a long way behind him in that Gold Cup but Venetia Williams is adamant her up-and-comer did himself some early damage that afternoon. He was very good in three wins last season before that and won the Peter Marsh off a mark of 156 here in January.
Any rainfall would assist his cause but, like A Plus Tard, he's entitled to be still getting better as a 7YO and he's clearly got an affinity for Haydock. He is a potential danger to the Irish raider.
Imperial Aura's huge early-season promise petered out last term but Kim Bailey's charge has undergone wind surgery over the summer and is unexposed at this distance so he's not one to dismiss either.
Selection: A Plus Tard
Next Best: Royale Pagaille
3.35 - My Odds Boost On Betfair Handicap Chase (3m1½f)
Ramses De Teillee has gone the wrong way since winning at Cheltenham's November Meeting last season. He's 2lb below that win-mark however and, with a hurdles spin behind him, could be dangerous.
He's got a hefty burden to carry however and with Empire Steel lacking a recent run, this may fall the way of the improving STRICTLYADANCER for trainer Christian Williams.
The son of Yeats has landed back-to-back 3m1f good-ground amateur riders' events at Cheltenham in the last month. He's 7lb higher today and his latest win was only a week ago but he's in receipt of plenty weight from these six rivals and, if this turnaround doesn't catch him out, a clean round of jumping may suffice.
Joke Dancer ran well on his comeback at Wetherby (2m3½f, good to soft) in a Listed handicap three weeks ago and typically improvers for a run. He's trying a completely new distance now but could have a say if it proves to his liking.
Next Best: Joke Dancer