Flat racing arguably returns to centre stage today with a big domestic fixture at Kempton and the Dubai World Cup meeting at Meydan.
However, our attention remains on the jumpers and there are a few decent handicaps to get stuck into at Haydock.
The official going in the papers this morning is described as good, but there is plenty of rain forecast and the amount we have will certainly influence the results.
Challenger Middle Distance Chase Series Final
First up is the Challenger Middle Distance Final and we like a horse we tipped last weekend, BALLYBOLLEY.
He was heavily backed that day at Kempton, but went off plenty fast enough and just faded in the closing stages to finish third.
He is clearly showing plenty at home right now, which probably explains why he is being brought back out so quickly, and he can gain compensation here provided the rain stays away.
Top weight, FIVE IN A ROW, is also worth an interest as he will find this much easier than his Festival assignment last time out. He gives the impression he is the sort to keep finding so his big weight may not be an issue.
The biggest danger could be the quirky, The Italian Job, who threw away a race last time out. That effort at least proved he is handicapped to win again soon and his yard is in decent form.
|Ballybolley (ew)||2.00 Haydock||6/1||BetVictor|
|Five In A Row (ew)||2.00 Haydock||11/1||Bet365|
Challenger Stayers Hurdle Series Final
Next is the Challenger Stayers Hurdle Final and the step up in trip brings ALZAMMAAR right into the mix.
He has been seeing staying on well in his recent races and will be a real threat provided the ground doesn’t get too soft.
Billy Dutton and Petethepear, who were second and third at Ascot recently, have to be on the short list, whilst a race at Ayr recently is also one to note as four of today’s runners filled the first five places that day.
First and second were Caledonia and OCTAGON and we think the latter can improve more for the extra three furlongs here.
Lucinda Russell has the two potentially best handicapped horses in race courtesy of Tap Night and KRIS CROSS. Both have had their problems, but equally have more talent than their recent form might suggest.
In the hope that he bounced last time out, and given his monster price, we also suggest an interest in Kris Cross as his first run of the season was full of promise.
With 16 still due to go to post despite a non runner, we have four places to shoot at.
|Alzammaar (ew)||2.35 Haydock||15/2||Bet365|
|Octagon (ew)||2.35 Haydock||16/1||Bet365|
|Kris Cross (ew)||2.35 Haydock||40/1||Bet365|
Challenger Staying Chase Series Final
The Challenger Staying Chase is next and Russell could have a big say here too, with FULL ASSAULT in with a shout despite top weight. He is ready for another try at this trip, especially on better ground.
With his stable still going well after breaking their Festival duck at Cheltenham recently, BODEGA looks the main danger as he remains unexposed at this trip and over fences generally, whilst if there is to be a big shock bottom weight WINGED CRUSADOR could provide it, as long as the ground stays as it is.
He ran with some promise last time out behind Leo Luna after a few months on the sidelines and is well treated based on the best of his hurdles form.
|Full Assault (ew)||3.10 Haydock||12/1||Bet365|
|Bodega (ew)||3.10 Haydock||12/1||Bet365|
|Winged Crusader (ew)||3.10 Haydock||25/1||Bet365|
Challenger Two Mile Hurdle Series Final
The last of the finals in the Challenger Series is the Two Mile Hurdle, where Nigel Twiston-Davis has another potentially unexposed short in THUNDER SHEIK although, again, a lack of rain is key to his chances.
If the rain does come, Baby King will be a threat, but we are going to give a second chance to MR FITZROY who won so well at Kempton two starts ago. Something clearly wasn’t right when he flopped for us at Ascot next time out as he’s been off for 2 months since then.
|Thunder Sheik (ew)||3.45 Haydock||16/1||Bet365|
|Mr Fitzroy (ew)||3.45 Haydock||28/1||BetVictor|
For those wanting to get stuck into the action in the desert, here are our best bets at Meydan:
|Manatee (ew)||12.55 Meydan||5/1||BetVictor|
|Tellina (ew)||12.55 Meydan||25/1||Bet365|
|Ertijaal (win)||2.10 Meydan||4/1||Stan James|
|Confrontation (ew)||2.45 Meydan||11/2||BetVictor, Stan James|
|Euro Charline (ew)||3.45 Meydan||20/1||Bet365|
|Frosted (win)||5.00 Meydan||5/2||Bet365|
|Keen Ice (ew)||5.00 Meydan||16/1||Bet365|