A busy and fascinating Saturday in store.
The heavy ground at Haydock has seen Gold Cup winner Sizing John defect from the big race, leaving it at the mercy of Bristol de Mai albeit at prohibitive odds.
The ground could be a big factor in a couple of the handicaps at the Lancashire track.
The staying handicap hurdle (1425) sees quality novices of last season, The Worlds End and Minella Awards mixing it with in form Pipe yard’s Champers on Ice.
All are saddled with big weights, and there could be some value lower down the handicap. Gordon Elliott may have thrown Ibsen into the horsebox to keep Outlander company and 6lbs out of the handicap looks tricky, but it’s a featherweight and he could be an each way pick in gruelling conditions.
The same logic applies to the 2m handicap hurdle (1350) where Clyne could literally get bogged down. Limited Reserve is the obvious lightweight contender after a good run at Ascot, but Man Of Plenty has two good Cheltenham handicap seconds this year, one on heavy, and he could also spring an each way surprise from out of the weights.
Ascot may play a little more to conventional wisdom. The return of Defi du Seuil will be centre of attention, but the quality chase (1405) sees both Top Notch and Smad Place looking to defy penalties. The handicapper would have Top Gamble winning this at the weights and the odds are tempting.
Best bet of the day is reserved for the Paul Nicolas trained San Benedeto (1515) who ran a blinder chasing home stablemate Politologue at Exeter and has the valuable 5lb claim of in form Bryony Frost to help offset the weight rise. He is expected to win.
Man of Plenty, 1350 Haydock, 0.5pt each way, 40/1 generally available
Ibsen, 1425 Haydock, 0.5pt each way, 33/1 Ladbrokes
Man of Plenty & Ibsen, 0.5pt each way double, approx 1390/1 !!
Top Gamble, 1405 Ascot, 1pt win, 7/1 generally available
San Benedeto, 1515 Ascot 2pts win, 7/2 Boylesports
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