There's a top-class card at Haydock on Saturday and the Placepot looks an appealing bet.
Silviniaco Conti has won this race twice in the last three years and looks to hold outstanding claims this afternoon, arriving on the back of a highly-encouraging prep run over hurdles.
12:10- De Boitron finished second in this race off a 10 lb higher mark last year, and he looks set to give another good account this time around, arriving on the back of a pipe-opener over fences at Aintree recently. This is quite a competitive race, though, so we will also include Zaidiyn as he developed into a useful hurdler last season, shaping well in a couple of competitive handicaps towards the back-end of last term, and he should be fit enough to do himself justice here having had a spin on the all-weather earlier in the month.
12:40- Copper Birch will relish this test following a more than respectable reappearance at Ffos Las recently, and he is expected to fight out the finish with last year's second Emperor's Choice. Copper Birch and Emperor's Choice are both thorough stayers, proven when the mud is flying, and they represent in-form yards so are likely to launch bold bids.
13:15- The lightly-raced Gunner Fifteen has joined an excellent yard and starts life in handicaps from a potentially lenient mark, so is worth banking on in the Placepot. It's not all been plain sailing over hurdles for Gunner Fifteen, but he has shown plenty of ability, comfortably winning his point and bumper, and he will have no problem with ground conditions.
13:50- Only four runners go to post in this valuable hurdle, meaning a win is required to progress in the Placepot, and the percentage play is to include the quartet in the permutation. Narrow preference would be for Top Notch as he enjoyed a very successful time of things last season as a juvenile, but Irving arrives on the back of a convincing win in the Elite Hurdle, Melodic Rendezvous will relish conditions, and even outsider Fou et Sage can be given a good chance on his French form. We'll play it safe and include all four runners.
14:25- Chasing types have fared well in this Fixed Brush Hurdle down the years, and Our Kaempfer and Tea For Two both possess the physique to suggest that they will relish these obstacles. Our Kaempfer got his act together at end of last season, winning two novices and then finishing third in the Grade 1 Sefton over three miles at Aintree. He has shaped well in handicaps on both starts this term and still looks to be fairly treated. Tea For Two is only 7 lb higher than when blitzing his rivals in the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton last season and a recent spin around Chepstow should have left him spot on for this.
15:00- Silviniaco Conti has won this race twice in the last three years and looks to hold outstanding claims this afternoon, arriving on the back of a highly-encouraging prep run over hurdles. Away from Cheltenham, Silviniaco Conti has developed into an ultra-consistent, top-class chaser and he appears to have everything in his favour here.
12:10- 2, 4
12:40- 2, 9
13:50- 1, 2, 3, 4
14:25- 3, 4
= 32 lines