After finding the winner of last weekend's BetVictor Gold Cup, Simon Holt explores the pick of the punting opportunities at Haydock.
Exciting clashes at Ascot, between Altior and Cyrname in the Christy 1965 Chase, and at Haydock, between Bristol De Mai and Lostintranslation (not forgetting Frodon) in the Betfair Chase, most certainly take centre stage on Saturday.
At Ascot, Altior bids to extend his unbeaten sequence of 19 victories over jumps at a longer trip which should suit him well, but there must be a small concern about his jumping as he showed a tendency to go left handed (markedly so on this course in January) on his final three starts last season.
Still, it is surprising that this hugely talented horse is rated 1lb below Cyrname, who recorded two fine front-running performances over the course and distance, latterly when slamming Waiting Patiently by 17 lengths in the Grade One Betfair Ascot Chase.
On overall past exploits, Altior will be hard to beat providing he jumps straight.
Bristol De Mai has become known as the 'King of Haydock' after four unbeaten course visits including in the last two runnings of the Betfair Chase.
The grey ran perhaps his best race elsewhere when third in the Gold Cup in March and has 9lb in hand on the official ratings over Lostintranslation for whom, after showing huge promise last season and winning impressively at Carlisle first time out, this is the acid test.
Somewhat overlooked in the market, however, is Frodon (just 1lb inferior to Bristol De Mai) and this superb jumper will probably come on plenty for his return at Aintree, where the omission of several fences (due to low sunlight) would not have been in his favour, while this left handed course should suit him well.
In the Betfair Best Odds On ITV Races Stayers' Handicap Hurdle at Haydock, DIOMEDE DES MOTTES looks interesting at double-figure odds.
The Dan Skelton-trained six-year-old seems to have benefitted from wind surgery and, since winning over this three-mile trip at Southwell in October, has run solidly, finishing fourth behind Thyme Hill in the Persian War Novices' Hurdle at Chepstow (dropped in distance) before finding the promising Skandiburg just too strong at Aintree back over three miles where there was a gap of 17 lengths back to the third.
Diomede Des Mottes went up 6lb for that latest effort but William Marshall's 7lb claim could prove key here, and this strong traveller can have a big say.
Marshall also has a decent mount in the Betfair Exchange Handicap Hurdle aboard Falcon Sun, beaten eight lengths by Benny's Bridge at Cheltenham last month.
However, in the same race, WHOSHOTTHESHERIFF was travelling like a winner before over-jumping and coming down at the second last.
Promising when trained by Gordon Elliot in Ireland, the five-year-old had won his previous two starts for new handler Phil Kirby at Sedgefield (2m4f) and Carlisle (2m1f) and could rate much higher in the future.
Posted at 1550 GMT on 22/11/19
We are committed in our support of responsible gambling. Recommended bets are advised to over-18s and we strongly encourage readers to wager only what they can afford to lose.