12:10 Newton Novices’ Hurdle
At Haydock on Saturday, Paul Nicholls has the favourite in a race named in his honour. It will be no surprise if Dynamite Dollars were to win – he has already won both his starts this year, including a victory on very soft ground.
At Haydock, when conditions get this tough, it’s a very different ball-game altogether. For that reason I’m going for an each-way shot elsewhere: I was really impressed by Midnight Shadow when winning at Uttoxeter in a bog. I can see this fella out-running his price, currently at 7/1.
12:40 Betfair Each-Way Edge Handicap
Having a run under your belt with conditions so testing is massive, and Courtown Oscar has had the benefit of going at Carlisle. At five pounds higher today he has a great chance to follow that up.
Emperors Choice won this race two years ago off a mark eight pounds higher than today – his form has been dire in recent times but Venetia Williams’ horses love the mud. Added to the fact this horse has such good form here at Haydock in heavy ground, this leads me to take him as the each-way selection.
13:15 Betfair Graduation Handicap
Clan des Obeaux has been expensive for his followers and Paul Nicholls will be hoping he can get his head in front here – however I’m not convinced that a slog in the mud is what he wants.
One that does like the mud and was impressive at Kelso is Big River for Lucinda Russell, but my vote goes to Cyrus Darius. This horse has enough class to win at Aintree in a Grade 2, and also had a run three weeks ago.
13:50 Betfair Exchange Hurdle
This is a battle between the leading claiming riders of this season, Mitchell Bastyan and James Bowen, who are both excellent value for their claim.
Limited Reserve was beaten narrowly at Ascot by Elgin, who won last Sunday’s Greatwood. Clyne went down all guns blazing when beaten by The New One at Ffos Las in the Welsh Champion Hurdle.
My preference here is – just – for Clyne. He is proven at the track, having run The New One so close in last year’s Champion Hurdle trial.
14:25 Stayers Handicap
This is a decent contest, and I absolutely love The Worlds End. He’s going to win some nice races but without the benefit of a recent run I have to go for Sam Spinner.
The form of October’s Chepstow Silver Trophy Handicap, in which he was placed, could not have worked out better and he was a little unlucky there. The step up in trip should suit and he is a cracking each-way bet.
15:00 Betfair Chase
This is the big one. I would love to see Cue Card do what he did last year by bouncing back to form and winning. People forget he was only third in the Charlie Hall last year before he beat Coneygree easily in this. He looked out of sorts at Wetherby and has plenty going for him here.
I think the each-way bet in the race is Outlander for Gordon Elliot and Jack Kennedy. A Grade 1 winner who loves the ground, he is closely matched on ratings with the best in here and is much better value. Bristol De Mai is talented – but this is his toughest test to date.
15:35 Betfair Handicap Chase
It’s interesting that Robbie Power is riding Robinsfirth, and that has swayed things for me.
I think Lessons in Milan is a really good each-way bet, as he loves the conditions here.
Odds correct at time of posting.