I was hoping to be at Haydock tomorrow but work obligations have put paid to that.

It’s an interesting day (all Saturdays are at this time of year) but I’m not sure that we’re going to get too many Cheltenham pointers with a combination of soft ground and other targets.

It’s great to see that the BHA has got hold of prize money but this weekend has been hijacked by forces beyond race fans’ control.

So, on to the racing.


Let’s start with the undoubted best race of the day, the Betfair Chase at Haydock (3.05). Long Run is the best horse in the race but it’s hard to see that this is a priority. Nicky Henderson has said that he’s “a fair way forward compared to last year and he has pleased me in his schooling” but he’s also expressed concern about the ground. It’s not raining now around here but there’s been a hell of a lot of rain over the last few days and we know what that can do to Haydock.

Silviniaco Conti is race fresh and there’s every reason to believe that this is his ideal race. I’ve been a strong supporter since his novice days and his profile is ideal for this. The current 9/4 is great value and you can ignore the rest. There are only two horses in this race.

Staying with Haydock, Balder Success is just making money in the 12.20 and should be included in all combinations.

Ile de Re is a deserved favourite in the 12.55 but he’s up against serious opposition and the current odds allow you to take a view. I’m with Lamb or Cod for 11/2 value in likely soft ground.

Beware of the 1.25 unusually placed NHF. If you need to have a bet for Placepot or other purposes choose Baltimoar. I’m not convinced that 4/7 is good value but there are only five runners so it’s a no bet option unless combinations are required. Incidentally, thank God it’s a real placepot rather than the guaranteed worst odds we had to put up with when I was at Bangor (“bangor(no)bet”) last week!

The 2.00 is full of horses that you wouldn’t want to follow so it’s a real challenge. I’m going with a Twitter tip from Alexander Voy, the jockey on Lie Forrit, a big favourite of Lydia Hislop and I’ll be interested to know whether she’s following him. I note that she’s not on RUK this weekend so maybe I won’t find out.

The 2.30 presents a dilemma, not just in terms of the currently open market but because there are horses about which you can take a view. I’m a supporter of Saphir River but his form has been terribly disappointing. 15/2 is very appealing but I have to choose him only on the basis that he’s a lot better than current form has shown. Sometimes you just have to take a view!

I’ve done the 3.05 and, to be honest, the 3.40 is a fairly lazy afterthought. I’ll go for Pettifour just on the basis of old form and quality


Well, this card has turned out to be a bit of a damp squib. I’d heard that Paul Nicholls wanted to give Big Buck’s a go at the fixed brush hurdle at Haydock (why don’t we have fixed brush everywhere – just an aside) but the owner wanted him to run at Ascot and now he doesn’t run at either!

I’ll pick out a couple to be going on with. Finians Rainbow (2.10) is good value (evens) against Captain Chris (the latter is a nearly horse).

Raya Star is similarly good value against odds on Oscar Whisky in the 2.45. The latter should win but the former is a serious candidate.

The 3.20 is a lottery and don’t be surprised if Marodima weighs in at between 12/1 and 14/1.