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Bristol De Mai is out on his own at Haydock

Bristol de Mai, "the silver coated king of Haydock", regained his Betfair Chase crown while Main Fact just can't stop winning. Recap the action with our live blog.

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1614: That brings the afternoon racing and the blog to a close for another Saturday.

It's been a busy and fascinating day and there'll be plenty to digest.

There have been some fabulous performances, none more so Bristol de Mai's victory in the Betfair Chase but where does he go next?

In his interview, Daryl Jacob mentioned the Grand National and perhaps the rest of his season will be geared around the Aintree showpiece?

Either way, I'm sure Nigel Twiston-Davies will have every confidence in his grey and rightly so.

That's goodbye for now. I hope you can join us again next week.

1601: Wonderwall's dam is a half-sister to Riverside Theatre which is the connection mentioned in the tweet below.

He's a son of Yeats and it will be interesting to see whether connections continue in this sphere with him.

More from Spencer: "He hasn't (worked with any good flat horses) but he went to Nottingham and worked with some of Olly Murphy's. I thought a long time ago he was a good horse but with the lockdown and everything we've had to put him away.

"The further he goes, the better he goes. It was good."

As for plans, Wonderwall could come back to Ascot for a Listed race but Spencer has made clear how highly they regard the winner by nominating a certain race at Cheltenham as the target.

"There's one day in March we want to get to and there's no rush, we'll be working back from there."

He's not in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper betting on Oddschecker just yet but I suspect he will be by the close of play if that takes your fancy.

1553: Mount Corbitt is about 20 lengths clear at Ascot but he has surely run away with his jockey. The commentator calls him 40 lengths clear. Heh ho. He won't be for a good deal longer.

The field swoop past in the straight, too many in with chances to type up.

Wonderwall (3/1jt-f) was given a harder ride by James Bowen than you might sometimes see in a bumper. He cost 105,000 euros as a three-year-old and was well backed - I wonder if connections recouped some of that purchase price?

Some encouraging runs in behind, notably from Top Of The Bill in third. He'll be no price next time on the back of that though.

James Bowen: "He's a really nice horse and he showed that today. He's been smart from the day they bought him. He gives you a lovely feel. He ran a bit green and should come on again for that. Delighted with that."

Winning trainer Richard Spencer confirmed that result was 'expected' and said: "He did a really good bit of work at Nottingham a few weeks ago. He's a nice horse."

Oasis - Wonderwall (Official Video)

1547: There's a runaway leader at Huntingdon; Countess Reach is about 10 clear under Tom Bellamy.

The field make up that ground in a matter of strides as they begin the turn for home.


Commander Rocks and The Turtle Said pass the line together, the former was in front a fair way out but was agonisingly reeled in close home. It's a bob of heads. Commander Rocks carries the colours of the talented but ill-fated Brindisi Breeze.

At the post at Ascot.

Commander Rocks holds on to spring something of a surprise but there's some dispute in the Racing TV studio as to whether he'll be seen to best effect on the Flat or over hurdles. Fergal O'Brien was denied a quickfire double but that was a very encouraging run from the second.

1536: Does anyone like a bumper gamble?

Night Ranger is 5/2 from 9/2 at Huntingdon for Brian Ellison and Jack Tudor. There are almost three co-favourites and it's 16/1 bar.

There's a bumper to come from Ascot too and the one for the money there is Wonderwall who is a general 7/2 from 13/2.

The Ascot race has got a pretty useful recent history. Nicky Henderson has won it with Sugar Baron and Josses Hill, he runs Wraysford and Hamilton's Fantasy.

Wonderwall perhaps has more in common with Population who was a very impressive winner for John Ferguson back in 2011; he was sent off as favourite for the Aintree bumper on his next start but could only finish sixth behind The New One.

There's a circuit to go at Haydock but not for Pobbles Bay and Ballydine is struggling.

The old boy Perfect Candidate (8/1) recaptures his sparkle in a race he won last year and he's almost a fence clear from the two others still going. That will be a popular winner in Fergal O'Brien's yard.

1533: Some updated ante-post betting for the King George VI Chase and Clan Des Obeaux and Cyrname are joint-favourites in a lot of books. Overall, the former is just shading it at the top of the market.

At the start at Haydock where I'm hoping Alminar can show them the way home.

1526: The beginners chase I referred to earlier is well underway, there are only three to jump. I've barely watched a yard but Janidil (2/1f) looks all over the winner.

He does win by about four or five from Longhouse Poet and January Jets.

The Racing TV team believe he looked as though he's improve for the run which bodes well for the season ahead and, as I mentioned before, the race has been used as a launchpad for some top class chasers in recent years.

"A classy, classy individual. He's beaten good horses here and he's done it with his ears pricked at the line," is the summing up from Jane Mangan.

He was 40/1 for the RSA Chase.

1522: Daryl Jacob on Bristol de Mai: "He's been a wonderful horse that has been very, very well trained. He's a real credit to us all. I was looking at the rain all week at Haydock and I've never been so happy to ride in the rain.

"It was ideal that Bellshill was up there as he's getting a little bit older, he's getting a little bit cute. I got some wonderful jumps the whole way round that kept me going forwards. I was quite confident at that stage and I got a good jump, three out and two out and I knew I had enough gas to get me home.

"It's just the ideal track for him. He's always at his best on a flat left-handed track. The Gold Cup didn't work out for him last year but I was thinking he wasn't really facing it, even though I was riding him in the Gold Cup I was thinking of the Grand National.

"Special day, special moments and it makes you appreciate them all the more."

Kim Bailey's day gets better and better as First Flow (3/1) wins at Ascot under David Bass.

"I couldn't get him into any sort of rhythm jumping so I tried to get him to jump a bit better and work his way into the race," said Bass when asked why he didn't follow his trainer's instructions and lead.

"He's quite a strange individual, that's probably why we get on."

1515: Ascot and Magic Saint are up next.

I convinced myself that Magic Saint was going to win the Grand Annual in March so had a few ante-post bets on him. I couldn't understand why he wasn't declared but I'm sure there was a good reason. I felt a little vindicated and pretty tetchy after his victory in a Cheltenham handicap eight days ago.

Can he follow up? Bah humbug.

I was inclined to take him on with this quick return to action but I struggled to find one that I wanted to back. There has been some support for Marracudja but Capeland is surprisingly weak on course. Gino Trail is playing up at the start but Jamie Moore is back in the saddle.

1500: They're off and running for the Betfair Chase.

Bellshill and Bristol de Mai from Clan des Obeaux, Lostintranslation and Keeper Hill. Two circuits to run.

Bellshill makes a mistake at the end of the first circuit but there's little else to report. Lostintranslation racing a little way off the others as Clan des Obeaux closes on Bristol de Mai.

The big three have dropped Bellshill, there are five to jump. Lostintranslation nodded on landing but didn't appear to lose any momentum. They turn for home and Robbie Power gets after Lostintranslation.

It's a two horse race now. Nothing between the pair two out. Bristol de Mai (9/4) digs deep and wins well.

What a horse or "the silver coated King of Haydock" as he's called in commentary as he crosses the line.

That's a third Betfair Chase and connections will be delighted.

Clan des Obeaux moved alongside the grey with Sam Twiston-Davies not moving a muscle but he was readily outpointed when push came to shove.

I'm pretty sure Robbie Power made certain Lostintranslation didn't leave his season in the Haydock mud, quite rightly too, and he did mark our cards with that interview shown just before the off. Mick Fitzgerald reveals that he was never happy with the way Lostintranslation was jumping and travelling. The common consensus seems to be that he failed to handle the ground.

1455: The wait is almost over.

Racing fans have their favourites and even horses they don't particularly like but I'm quite happy to see any of the three principals win this race.

Lostintranslation was so impressive when winning this race last year though that he'd have to be the one for me. There were excuses for his King George run and he's already put that behind him with a big run in the Gold Cup.

The ground is a worry for jockey Robbie Power who says 'it is not ideal' for an exuberant jumper with a turn of foot.

"Hopefully, he's a bigger stronger horse now and he'll get away with it."

In contrast, conditions are of no concern for Bristol De Mai and the dual winner is still only nine years old despite, seemingly, having been around forever.

1444: Fergus Gillard on Main Fact: "I have no idea how much more he can progress. David and the team at the home might start having a few ideas."

Song For Someone leads his two rivals but Laurina looks very keen with four hurdles to jump. Ruby Walsh is concerned that she hasn't switched off.

Laurina is dropping off the others in the straight. It's still Song For Someone.

That's a huge winner for Tom Symonds and an impressive performance for all that Laurina has run no race at all once again. Off to the paddocks for her?

Her non-performance may just take a little shine off the winner but it shouldn't as that was a very good display.

Nico de Boinville: "Full credit to Tom Symonds, he's got his team in flying form. He was very, very gutsy. Hopefully there's a bit more to come from him."

De Boinville won't be drawn on whether the winner is capable of heading for either the Champion or Stayers Hurdle, instead giving thanks and plaudits to connections. Not unreasonable.

1438: Laurina is favourite at Ascot but I couldn't have her on last season's form.

Call Me Lord went close in this race last year and it seems reasonable to think that he's had this race as an early season target. He'll do for me.

Song For Someone has his supporters and, I think I'm right in saying, that this would be the biggest success of Tom Symonds' career.

1435: Nine wins in a row for Main Fact which is quite remarkable.

I wasn't watching him through the race but he was held-up well in rear for the first circuit. I'd be a little sick if I'd backed Third Wind, not that you could have any complaints, as he was produced perfectly to win the race.

Ed Chamberlin promises to update us with news on Wholestone which doesn't sound positive. Fingers crossed. It is testing, perhaps he's just winded.

There's an understandably very excited owner shouting on the telly.

1426: They're off and racing at Haydock. Good luck.

Relegate is being held-up in rear and just has two behind her. Two miles to run. She's in good company with Main Fact just in front of her.

Wholestone races alongside Clyne, wider on the course. Dolphin Square and Imperial Alcazar prominent. Relegate is relegated to last and is being pushed along. Relegate pulled up.

Five furlongs to run and Wholestone and Imperial Alcazar lead. Wholestone falls, Ask Dillon prominent. Two to jump.

All change. Main Fact (13/2) comes from nowhere to win.

Third Wind, Highland Hunter and Ask Dillon the next three.

That's nine in a row for the winner and a big result for David Pipe and Fergus Gillard.

1419: Another race at Naas and another Mullins favourite turned over as Vanillier (10/3) completes a double for Gavin Cromwell.

The first three home all look promising and were a long way clear.

Right, focus.

Five minutes for the staying hurdle at Haydock which has been won by some very smart horses over the years. I'm hoping Imperial Alcazar adds his name to the list. It is, of course, hugely competitive but I'd be happy to take on Relegate - I'm not sure I could oppose any of the other market leaders with any confidence.

1405: Lining up at Ascot. I'd like to see Imperial Aura win.

They're off and racing.

Black Corton leads from Imperial Aura, Real Steel and Itchy Feet - they're tightly grouped as they turn into the home straight for the first time. Itchy Feet is just racing a couple of lengths off the other three.

Black Corton unseats his rider.

Imperial Aura leads by three at two out but Real Steel closes. Imperial Aura (13/8f) stretches clear as Real Steel ties up and is passed by Itchy Feet.

I wonder if Real Steel was just short of a run? It wasn't a bad return to action by any means but it was certainly an impressive performance by the winner who built on his return at Carlisle in no uncertain fashion.

Someone has just told me he 'wins the Gold Cup' but I wonder if he'll follow the Imperial Commander route and win the Ryanair first?

Imperial Aura is around 10/1 for the Ryanair and he is as short as 20/1 for the Gold Cup. Not every firm on Oddschecker has posted updated odds for that market yet.....there is still some 50s on my screen but I very much doubt that's still available.

1403: The fitting of cheekpieces nearly worked the oracle for Friend Or Foe but Paul Nicholls' runner was caught on the line by Xcitations (5/1) and it's turning out to be a good day for the Andrews family as the winner was ridden by Gina.

Pam Sly sends out the winner of the race for the second year running and he attracted steady support from last night through to the off.

Did the second go too soon? Always easy in hindsight.

1400: Terrific race up next at Ascot.

Are you hoping to see Imperial Aura build on his rich promise or would you rather see Real Steel make a winning start for Paul Nicholls?

Black Corton and Itchy Feet have their supporters too and this is a race that should have a bearing on the Ryanair Chase market.

1355: Arrivederci fell when making his challenge and his supporters will rightly feel aggrieved for all that it was a little way from home.

War Lord (13/2) runs on strongly to see off Umbrigado and Our Power.

I believe there's been no change to the result at Naas but do double check.

1346: The first of today's Value Bet selections lines up at Haydock where there are three non-runners.

I quite fancied Our Power for a race last season and I haven't managed to forgive him yet so it's Kid Commando for me. Shakem Up'Arry is clearly of interest on his run behind Shishkin at Newbury if nothing else but he's short enough for me.

Umbrigado was fifth in the three mile handicap on this card last year and he seems to have attracted steady support but I couldn't get excited by his chance. I'm about to be proved wrong no doubt!

There's a stewards' enquiry at Naas.

1342: There's a circuit to go at Naas where Damalisque is looking to land a decent punt.

The first of two cracking handicap hurdles from Haydock is not far away and I'm a little surprised to see Arivederci as favourite.

It was tight but Damalisque was just thwarted at Naas by Barnaviddaun (9/2) who didn't go unbacked himself.

1335: Four to jump at Ascot.

Midnightreflection and Dame de Ruban lead in a fairly tightly grouped field.

Printing Dollars and Same Circus go in pursuit of Midnightreflection, lots of chances.

Midnightreflection led over the last but Robin Gold (4/1) was given an amazingly cool ride by Bridget Andrews. I'll try and dig out a replay of the finish. It will appear underneath this post in a few minutes.

1327: I was fairly sure I (half) fancied one for the Veolia Mares' Handicap Hurdle at Ascot but it doesn't bode well that I couldn't remember who it was!

I've got there! I thought there were good reasons to oppose a number of them but the booking of Bryan Carver for Midnightreflection caught the eye as did the pick of her form. The big concern is the trip and that was enough to put me off.

Tom O'Brien is making his day at Huntingdon pay as Awake At Midnight (8/1) wins well despite making a bad, early mistake.

Henry de Bromhead on Notebook: "Delighted. He looked a little bit rusty over the first couple but then he jumped well. It probably helped him (having no crowd) but he seemed to behave well, he just likes to get on with the job and that's it.

"Rachel said he had a bit of a blow at the fourth last so he should improve a bit but we tried to have him as right as we could without being too hard on him. Looking back at Cheltenham we were there one run too many, possibly, it's the one thing I could come up with.

"I'd imagine we'll aim for Leopardstown and see how he is with the more-seasoned two milers subject to discussing it with the O'Learys. I don't think so but you wouldn't be opposed to it (going up in trip). Plenty of options but we'll see."

It doesn't sound as though Notebook will be going up in trip anytime soon but De Bromhead did seem open to the possibility.

1320: So far so good for Master Tommytucker (2/1f). Three to jump.

Only Good Boy Bobby went with him and he was hard at work with the favourite seemingly travelling very strongly and that was a hugely impressive performance from the favourite who jumped well.

If his fencing holds together he will make up into a very exciting performer. Good to see.

Tom Scudamore is at Huntingdon with Fergus Gillard riding Main Fact for David Pipe at Haydock and his mount, Sizing Cusimano, is attracting support. This trip looks on the short side though.

1313: It's fast and furious today and here's another favourite that's crying out to be taken on!

Will Master Tommytucker be able to jump round? He's got an engine but has made some calamitous errors in his career.

I've always liked Good Boy Bobby but have been a little disappointed that he hasn't hit greater heights; it's still relatively early days though.

Dashel Drasher showed plenty of promise in a truncated campaign last season and should relish the conditions. Happily, conditions look a little brighter.

1310: Champion Chase or Ryanair for Notebook?

He's around 20/1 for the two mile contest but he did appear to be getting outpaced for much of this race. I suppose a little will depend how many options Michael O'Leary has for 'his' race.

Only a couple of firms on Oddschecker are quoting Notebook for the Ryanair at the moment and he's a best of 33s with those.

1300: A super race coming up at Naas where I thought I'd be happy to chance Notebook at the prices (I haven't). He has to give weight to Cash Back and was disappointing in the Arkle but he'd beaten Fakir d'Oudairies prior to that and I think he deserves to be closer to that rival in the market.

Not long until we find out.

Cash Back has fallen at the first and that's a great shame. It's not been a good day for Willie Mullins so far. Djingle leads from Fakir and Notebook, they race in single file.

Demachine (11/4f) wins at Ascot for Kerry Lee and Richard Patrick.

They're halfway at Naas, no change to the order. Djingle is jumping very quickly out in front but is being stalked throughout by Fakir who travels strongly.

Notebook (7/2) comes from last to first to win the Poplar Square Chase.

Fakir d'Oudairies found disappointingly little once challenged and passed by Notebook and perhaps this run was just needed.

1252: Pym won the novices' handicap chase that's about to come up at Ascot last season but I'm not sure there's anything with his scope in this line-up.

Hold That Taught has live claims of providing Venetia Williams with compensation for Commodore's near miss but I thought Salty Boy looked a big price after an encouraging start for David Bridgwater at Sandown.

Midnightreferendum falls at Huntingdon. There will be a surprise result. Horse and jockey up okay.

Jennie Candlish is enjoying a great run of form and Diva De Vassy (40/1) provides her with another winner, rallying when She'sasupermack launched a renewed challenge.

1248: I wonder if Value Bet was jumping up and down and cheering Snow Leopardess home?

"The only one I’d consider opposing him with is Commodore, who doesn’t get much slack from the assessor but was running in the Ladbrokes Trophy last November and has seemingly always been held in quite high regard by Venetia Williams."

Commodore looked like winning for most of the home straight but ran out of gas in the final few yards and was caught by the Charlie Longsdon trained mare.

It is very hard work at Haydock and only four finished.

Two have departed at the first at Huntingdon, She's A Legend and Momella, and hampered favourite Midnightreferendum.

1243: It's all about staying at Haydock this afternoon where the visibility is pretty poor.

They're running for the 1240 over a mere three miles two but they've got an extra two furlongs to cover in the finale where I thought Alminar was worthy of each-way support for Nigel Hawke.

Conditions there are far better than they were back in 2016 though (see above)......

Secret Reprieve has just fallen as has Saint Xavier. There's a mile left to race.

1233: Shang Tang wins impressively at Ascot and recaptures the promise that he showed last season prior to disappointing in a race won by Chantry House at Cheltenham. He's had a wind operation in the interim and it's clearly worked. All four runners ran respectably but Greenrock Abbey did fall at the second last - hopefully he'll be none the worse for the tumble.

Call Me Lyreen beats Wolf Prince at Naas and that's an impressive performance from the winner. Beaten favourite Gars En Noir finished a long way back in third.

The experts on Racing TV believe that Gars En Noir will 'tighten up for the run' and could be worth another chance next time.

The winner was returned at 11/2.

1229: Gars En Noir had been backed into odds-on for the next at Naas but is back out to odds against as support comes for Indiana Jones, an easy winner at Cork on debut for Mouse Morris.

I thought Sams Profile was in the process of making an encouraging return for Morris in the week before taking a tired, heavy fall. Hopefully, he'll be none the worse for that and can take high order as a novice chaser this season.

1223: Glory And Honour wins at Huntingdon but he was made to work really hard by Tom O'Brien and Camprond who has made a very encouraging start over hurdles for his new connections.

They're behind time at Ascot for the opening 1220. Southfield Harvest is a little easy to back and out to 13/8.

Not sure why - being reshod? - but Greenrock Abbey has only just come out on to the course and is on the way to post to join the other three runners.

1219: The ITV Racing team have largely avoided Haydock Park with their selections but I'm not sure the races at Ascot are any easier despite the small fields.

It's a brave shout backing Laurina isn't it? She looked to have completely lost the plot last season. It would have to be Call Me Lord for me.

1215: The money was for Do Your Job and he saw off market rival Flic Ou Voyou (whose chance ended with a bad mistake) but he was then picked off by Llandinabo Lad.

Trainer Tom Symonds is having a great season. He was quite highly touted when he took out his licence and today could be huge for him with Song For Someone lining up in one of the big races at Ascot.

Glory And Honour is odds-on at Huntingdon having shaped well in both starts. The weather is far nicer there than at Haydock.

1208: Haydock kicks off with the Listed Betfair Weighed In Podcast Newton Novices' Hurdle, a race that has fallen to a four-year-old seven times in the last decade. The only realistic runner from that age group is the aforementioned Severance but he's third in the market at 11/4.

Do Your Job and Flic Ou Voyou contest favouritism.

Apparently the 'rain has come down proper' and that they are having a 'lot more rain than forecast' at Haydock. It will get testing.

1205: Running at Naas where it's soft-to-heavy and the odds-on favourite makes the running.

Good Time Jonny, ninth in the Cheltenham bumper, is buried back in the field but is an interesting runner for the season ahead for Tony Martin. Lucky Ranger used to be trained by Martin but showed definite signs of retaining his ability on debut for new connections and will attempt to build on that promise at 1412. Both may be more at home in handicap company further down the line.

The market gets it right as Gabynako makes every yard to lead Envious Editor home.

1159: Niall Hannity is looking forward to the card at Haydock and describes Severance as having 'a mighty chance' in the opener at 1210.

Another runner that has been well backed is Relegate in the staying handicap hurdle and it's easy to see why she'd be popular but Haydock isn't always an easy track to come from off the pace - a point Matt makes in his Value Bet column I believe - and she's often been ridden with exaggerated waiting tactics in the past.

Perhaps the fitting of cheekpieces will help her take closer order but I'm pretty keen to take her on.

Every preview I read in the week tipped Third Wind but I liked both of Fergal O'Brien's runners, Imperial Alcazar and Ask Dillon. I thought the latter could hit the frame at a price but it will be disappointing if the former can't have a say in the finish.

1151: There was a bit of opposition in the market to Getaway Luv but he's fairly dotted up at 7/4 (having been odds-on when I last looked this morning!). Heart Of A Lion was the runner backed against him and did take second.

There was an incident before a hurdle on the back straight which saw two runners depart after clipping heels, horses up okay but the commentator had no news on the jockeys. News has now come through and the jockeys are fine.

Click on the image for the Weekend Best Bets Podcast

1147: I just caught the end of the Naas preview on Racing TV after I switched channels and the presenters were discussing a significant gamble in the Brown Lad Handicap Hurdle.

The jockey will wear the colours of one JP McManus and the horse has been backed from a high of 10/1 down to 100/30. He goes by the name of Damalisque and hasn't been seen over hurdles since 2018 but he did shape nicely on the Flat a month ago.

Utterly irrelevant I'm sure but the top two in the weights are also owned by McManus and the weights would have risen by 6lbs if they hadn't lined up. The top-weight is the very useful Any Second Now so it will be interesting to see how he goes on his seasonal reappearance.

1141: Delicate Kiss wins the first at Lingfield for John Bridger and George Rooke, a daughter of the late Delegator who is a real course specialist.

I thought the in-form I'm Available ran quite well in behind and might be able to strike again before the handicapper catches up.

1138: Huntingdon is next off the blocks and there is an odds-on favourite in Getaway Luv who bids to advertise the form of Flic Ou Voyou and justify cramped odds in building on the promise of his Wincanton run.

Olly Murphy's stable seems to be getting into its stride now and I came close to talking myself into a bet on Itchy Feet in the Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase at Ascot.

1134: I've barely mentioned Lingfield Park which is very remiss of me and they are going to post for the opener, a typically competitive handicap. There's a decent little race at 1310 with some popular 'old' campaigners in like Documenting and Spanish City.

The fillies' novice stakes at Wolverhampton this evening is also worth a second look I thought, there are some promising types for some of the big stables due to line up at 1800, and Jim Crowley has a decent book of rides.

1129: Back to the big race and an informed, expert opinion from Martin Dixon.

Do you agree?

1124: Did you see Chantry House win at Ascot yesterday?

I suppose the race didn't tell us too much with Pic d'Orhy sadly falling but it did make me wonder where the winner might end up in March (assuming all goes well etc etc). The post-race talk was about going up in trip and Chantry House is 12/1 second favourite for the Marsh Novices' Chase.

The horse in front of him is Envoi Allen (9/4) and it's not impossible to imagine a scenario where everyone looks to avoid Gordon Elliott's runner. Chantry House and Sporting Life Arkle favourite Shishkin both ran in the Supreme last season and given they're owned by different people, I didn't think it was impossible that Chantry House could line up in the two mile contest again. I haven't backed him for the Arkle but 25/1 is certainly enough to tempt me on the offchance that things change.

1118: I note, dutifully, that Sky Bet are offering Money Back on the 1350 from Haydock, the Betfair Racing Only Bettor Handicap Hurdle, which I didn't think was quite as competitive as the numbers suggested.

Accordingly, I prefer the claims of impressive Ascot winner Kid Commando despite being up in trip and the handicap. A number of the opposition appear to have something to prove or to be in the grip of the handicapper. The obvious exception is Arrivederci but even allowing for my comments above, this looks more competitive than the race he won at Wetherby and I'd rather side with Anthony Honeyball's runner at around the same price.

Don't miss the ITV7!

1056: Willie Mullins sends a typically strong team to Naas (does he send any other sort?) and Gars En Noir has been slashed in price to win the Old Persian At Glenview Stud Fishery Lane Hurdle while Cash Back is popular in the chase that follows as he receives weight from Fakir d'Oudairies and Notebook.

There really is plenty to savour and, with a little over 40 minutes to the first at Lingfield Park, here's a little tune to savour loosely linked to Mullins' first runner of the day, Captain Kangaroo, while I make a coffee.

The Statler Brothers: Flowers On The Wall.

1045: Another thing that caught my eye last night was the closing Mongey Communications Beginners' Chase at Naas.

There are runners with plenty of potential in the line-up but it was the list of recent winners that really jumped off the page.

They are: Tornado Flyer, Discorama, Mossback, Road To Respect, Killer Miller, Real Steel, Road To Riches, Texas Jack and Lambro.

As a beginners chase on a high profile card I suppose you should expect some decent horses to go to post but that's a pretty smart list above and it may well pay to add this afternoon's winner (and more possibly) to your My Stable tracker.

1039: He doesn't feature among this morning's Sky Bet market movers but I was intrigued to see the support for Xcitations last night. That was, in part, because he caught my eye early last season but my interest was then piqued by noticing that Pam Sly, who saddled a wide margin bumper winner at Huntingdon's last meeting, saddled the winner of this race last year.

Dr Newland's Orchestral Rain looks a big threat but I thought Xcitations was a tempting each-way play against the jolly. He's a little short for that now admittedly but perhaps he'll drift again nearer race time.

1031: I've mentioned Philip Hobbs already and his Dolphin Square has been backed to make a splash in the Betfair Exchange Stayers' Handicap Hurdle. I read three ante-post previews for this race in the week and each one of them tipped Third Wind.

The old boy Don Poli also features among the Sky Bet Market Movers and few would begrudge him victory except those, like me, who have already backed against him.

Click on the image for Sky Bet's market movers and offers

1026: I did read, or hear, a line in the week that the best staying chasers in Ireland keep beating each other this season which is a phrase which always seems to carry negative connotations.

While we can't expect them to be lining up against each other in top form every Saturday, it is nice to see them taking each other on rather than converting the odd penalty kick prior to the King George or Gold Cup. It would take quite a shake-up to achieve deeper fields in the graded races for all that the Betfair Chase and two races at Ascot are still fascinating heats.

Given the fallout from Altior v Cyrname last season, I can't imagine we'll be seeing any monumental clashes outside the big target races for some years but it's a great shame, even if we accept that they're not all going to be at 100% every time.

1021: The Betfair Chase is the headline act and will hopefully live up to its billing with a line-up that's high on quality if low on numbers.

Bristol De Mai has very much made 'The Park' his manor but he was usurped in no uncertain fashion by Lostintranslation last year. Both corners are backing their horses but Paul Nicholls has thrown a hat into the ring too and, as Ben Linfoot pointed out, has been making bullish noises.

It should be a cracker.

Betfair Chase - Leading Contenders

1017: More of that sort of nonsense later (for proper tips and advice see the link towards the top of the page) but here's confirmation of the going at Haydock Park ahead of a fascinating day.

There are a few non-runners across the meetings but, I think, most of those will have been in your morning newspapers (or whatever passes for those in this digital age).

1012: Let's start today with a theory. It may not be a good theory, or even a profitable one, but it's not as bad as some out there which are wackier than an episode of Wacky Races.

Tom O'Brien has ridden Third Wind in seven of his 10 career starts and has been on board for three of his four victories. Last Saturday saw him partner the big race winner Coole Cody yet this afternoon sees him plying his trade at Huntingdon with Jonjo O'Neill at Haydock for the big ride on Third Wind.

This is presumably due to his role for Philip Hobbs for whom he has three rides but it is his fourth that interests me. O'Brien is on board morning line favourite Maxcel in the bumper for none other than Third Wind's trainer, Hughie Morrison.

Could it be that Morrison has provided O'Brien with a surefire winner as compensation for missing out on the ride on Third Wind?

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