A scattering of unappealing, small-field races at Ascot make Haydock a more fertile ground for the Placepot.
"We can’t start with any horse other than Monbeg Dude in the Grand National Trial."
13:45 - Here's an unappealing, small-field race. But don't worry, as Top Notch provides an easy, if unimaginative, way through. He's down the Munir/Souede pecking order for the Triumph but is a very useful juvenile in his own right and should win this.
14:20 - At Fishers Cross is opposable here, for all he's surely the best horse in the race. Milansbar is a good option to start with, progressive this winter under similar conditions including a second to Barafundle in a C&D handicap last time. Barafundle is also worthy of putting in our perm, having a fine record around here and not being as far adrift on form as his price would imply.
14:55 - We can't start with any horse other than Monbeg Dude in the Grand National Trial. He's a fixture in the finish of these marathons, let alone the field. Gas Line Boy flopped in the Welsh National last time, but the time before he'd won impressively over this C&D and he should get closer to the lead this time, the suspicion being that failing to reach the front scuppered his chances at Chepstow.
15:25 - This is as competitive as you'd expect of a Pertemps Qualifier, especially since it's one of the last in the series before Cheltenham. The two of most interest to us, who aren't here simply to qualify or are otherwise unreliable, are Kelvingrove and Racing Europe. Both are progressive while looking reliable.
16:00 - Though he's been impressive, Fletchers Flyer hasn't yet been tested at this sort of level and therefore isn't an altogether attractive proposition as favourite here. Ballagh is. He has no penalties having finished second on both starts over hurdles, but the second time was in the Leamington at Warwick and, with the promise of more to come, over three miles, he is a better option for us.
16:30 - Runswick Royal has plenty of solid form over shorter, but there's been no indication that he'll need or indeed stay this longer trip so he's left out in favour of Algernon Pazham. The selection has run only once over fences, but it was an impressive debut at Leicester against similarly unexposed sorts and he should be fine dropped in trip, for all stamina is his chief asset.
13:45 - 1
14:20 - 3, 5
14:55 - 3, 4
15:25 - 11, 15
16:00 - 5
16:30 - 2
= 8 lines