1.10 - Ascendant Stakes (Listed, 1m)
Ryan Moore has managed to escape exile in Ireland where he had begun quarantining in anticipation of next weekend's Irish Champions Weekend meeting. A relaxation in regards to the rules ensures that elite sportspeople can now move more freely and so Moore is back in action at Haydock.
It might prove a winning start aboard Richard Hannon's FANCY MAN. The colt made a winning debut over 7f on soft ground here in July and has since gone down fighting behind a smart rival in Cobh in Listed fare at Salisbury. He put clear daylight between himself and the remainder in that contest and sets a decent standard for everything else to aim at; with no concerns over ground conditions.
Stablemate River Alwen may improve enough to get involved after scooping a C&D success on his second start last month.
Broxi ran third in the Group 3 Acomb at York last time after making the running and shouldn't be dismissed hastily while Alenquer appeared to have plenty about him in making a winning start at Newbury 20 days ago and is open to plenty progress despite a sharp rise in class.
1.45 - Superior Mile Stakes (Group 3, 1m)
My Oberon (second) finished ahead of odds-on favourite KHALOOSY (third) at Glorious Goodwood in this grade 36 days ago. William Haggas' charge suffered interference from the winner Tilsit in that race, though arguably was looking held when doing so.
He should give a solid account again but Roger Varian's Royal Ascot winner is given another chance to prove himself.
The pace of that Goodwood race was sedate and it didn't appear to suit Jim Crowley's mount. The Dubawi colt also didn't appear to relish the nature of that quirky track and shouldn't be judged too harshly as such.
He'd looked every inch a group-race performer in the making when landing the Britannia Stakes at Ascot in decisive style back in June. That win came on soft ground and that's another tick in the box for him. He's worth forgiving his setback at Goodwood.
Top Rank shed his unbeaten record at York in a handicap last month but ran well in third spot and merits a tilt at this sort of prize, while that run gives him an advantage over Qaysar.
Both Stormy Antarctic and Kinross are dropping in class this afternoon. A return to his 2018 form would surely see the former go close but preference is for Ralph Beckett's Kingman colt. He's thrice been sent into Group 1 battle since an effortless Newmarket success on debut last autumn.
This lowering of his sights may have a positive effect and the gap he held over Finest Sound (third) that afternoon at HQ gives him plenty reason to fancy a shot at Khaloosy.
2.15 - Handicap (1m6f)
Only five contenders vying for a prize with just shy of £50k to the winner is something of a surprise. The obvious pair on paper are Arthurian Fable and Favourite Moon.
The latter impressively won over C&D (soft) in early July and repelled subsequent Listed/Group 3 winner Subjectivist in doing so. The front pair were a long way clear and that is notable form.
William Haggas' contender has though run a disappointing race since at York when well behind the re-opposing runner-up Arthurian Fable. He gets a tongue-tie fitted here and, with track and conditions to suit, likely gets back to being competitive.
Brian Meehan's runner meanwhile confirmed the suspicion he's a stayer on the up when finding only Coltrane too good on the Knavesmire. He had some good animals behind and a 4lb rise in the weights looks about fair.
Al Dabaran has raced in good company since his Listed win at Ascot last summer and his Bahrain Trophy run at Newmarket in July was a solid one. This is his first attempt in a handicap and it might be asking plenty to lump weight around.
Chester winner MIDRARR has untapped potential for sure. That wasn't a strong event but she put it to bed in ready fashion and could have plenty more to offer upped in distance this afternoon. Unexposed at this distance, she may prove good enough to give Hollie Doyle another Saturday afternoon success.
2.50 - Old Borough Cup Handicap (1m6f)
Trainer Stuart Williams looks to have a good performer on his hands with RHYTHMIC INTENT. He's going the right way this term and made it 2-4 on the campaign with a decisive Newbury success last month.
That was his first attempt beyond 1m4f and he really appeared to appreciate the additional tax on his stamina, having few problems in striding purposely away from his rivals once asked.
His stamina is key but so, too, is the ground. He appears to relish getting his toe into it and conditions have seemingly come just right for this mission. He's up 6lb for that Newbury win but looks to have plenty more to offer and gets the in-form PJ McDonald for company.
This looks a good renewal of the Old Borough Cup and there are plenty of dangers lurking. Rajinsky has been hitting the crossbar of late and should run his race while Saglawy goes well fresh and needs a look on first outing for Paul Nicholls.
At the bottom of the weights, Brandon Castle will appreciate conditions but the same is true of Euchen Glen and having finished a good fifth in York's Ebor a fortnight ago, he can be shortlisted again for this less prize.
3.25 - Sprint Cup Stakes (Group 1, 6f)
A wide open renewal of the Group 1 Sprint Cup on paper. Dream Of Dreams looks certain to be popular after his wide-margin Newbury win last month. Impressive as that was, it was in a lower grade and while he's a C&D winner in the past; he came up well short in this race last year.
Hello Youmzain held off the previous winner The Tin Man to grab the prize 12 months ago and the former looks primed for his defence now after a fine second in France last time out.
Commonwealth Cup winner Golden Horde and Ballydoyle runner Lope Y Fernandez assure there's real depth in the race but preference is for ART POWER.
Three-year-old's have dominated this race of late and it can prove wise to forgive his Nunthorpe run at York last month. He never really got going and the pace injected with Battaash in the field took him off his feet early. In a Group 1 sprint, there isn't much scope for recovering.
With conditions testing (and the top sprinter in Europe absent) this isn't likely to be as helter-skelter early on as York was. His wins at Royal Ascot and in Ireland had marked down Tim Easterby's charge as a top sprinter in the making and it's folly to dismiss his progressive profile on foot of one misstep.
At a big price, Forever In Dreams might run into a place. Aidan Fogarty's filly has plenty of these behind when finishing third in the Champions Sprint at Ascot (6f, heavy) at the tail end of last season. She didn't fire in this race previous to that run but has won over C&D and has twice made the frame previously in Group 1 company. She's been in solid enough form this season and is not without an each-way squeak at her best.
4.00 - Edge Be Friendly Handicap (5f)
A tough sprint handicap to assess over the minimum distance and one in which it might pay to side with the C&D-winning form of ISHVARA.
Robert Cowell's charge scored over track and trip on her reappearance in June before struggling in Listed company at Ayr and then when meeting fast ground at Yarmouth. She has since finished second at Ascot and Bath, most recently from this mark of 90.
That winning course form is useful and, while this is a classier race than the one she ran in last time, she is reacquainted with Richard Kingscote coming back to Haydock and that's no bad thing given his impressive record at this circuit.
Militia's winning sequence stands at three after a Musselburgh victory 10 days ago and while the handicapper has had another swipe at him, he may be in the mix again from 4lb higher. Jabbarockie ran a cracker over slightly further at York last month and the former C&D winner merits plenty respect eased 1lb in the ratings with no concerns over conditions back on Merseyside with this trainer in such fine form lately (four winners from last six runners). He is shortlisted.
4.35 - Free Bet Streak Handicap (1m)
Ex-Dermot Weld inmate EGRECIO hasn't managed to win in four starts since joining David O'Meara but there have been some promising signs and, pointedly, the best of those have come on softer ground.
A quick surface at York in July certainly didn't appear to be his thing and he beat 11 of his 12 rivals since at Beverley (7½f, soft) in a novice contest. He was giving away 5lb to the winner in that contest and remains unexposed in what will be just his second start in a handicap. William Buick takes over this afternoon and might be able to partner his first winner for this yard.
Super Den and Imperial Command are three-year-old's with plenty of scope for better things and need close monitoring while Amadeus Grey scored at Beverley recently and remains well-treated on his best form from this revised perch.