It's Betfair Chase day at Haydock, and that is where Timeform's Matt Gardner heads for our latest crack at the Placepot...
"Long Run and Silviniaco Conti are the pair to focus on here and, with two places currently on offer, we need only select one of them..."
12:20 - With just four runners we need to select the winner in order to progress but we ought to be fairly safe in siding with the top two in the market, namely Balder Succes and Hollow Tree. The former failed to compete on his final two starts of last season but got back on track when third to Zarkandar on his reappearance and he strikes as the most likely winner, but Hollow Tree is a game front-runner who won three times last year, including a Grade 1 at Chepstow, and is not one to dismiss lightly.
12:55 - The step up in trip will almost certainly suit Ile De Re when judged on his Flat form but there is no denying that he failed to meet expectations at Ascot last time and can be taken on with Lamb Or Cod and Crowning Jewel. The former improved on his first starts for this yard when winning an interesting handicap at Chepstow last month and he appeals as the type to go on improving, whilst Crowning Jewel is most likely to come on his run at Newcastle last time after 5 months off, where he finished behind a brace of next time out winners, and he is one to bear in mind.
13:25 - Quite why a bumper race is being staged at this point on the card is beyond me, and it doesn't make life easy with regards to the Placepot as we are almost stepping into the unknown. The best bet is probably to side with the Donald McCain-trained Baltimoar, who looked one to keep on side when winning at Carlisle last month, in the hope that he can make the first two.
14:00 - It's too soon to be writing off Lie Forrit, who proved a big disappointment at Kelso on his return last month, as it is possible that he was simply in need of that run. He has stamina in abundance and, whilst there is still some room for improvement in his jumping, it would be a surprise were he not involved at the finish. The other one to take is Quartz de Thaix, who could still be well-treated racing from a 9 lb higher mark than when successful at Bangor 10 days ago and represents trainer Venetia Williams, who has been in decent heart of late.
14:30 - This is a fascinating race, particularly with French import Katkeau taking his chance at the bottom of the weights, but the temptation is to take on the David Pipe-trained five-year-old on account of his likely popularity among Placepot hunters and instead side with Pipe's other representative Knight Pass. The six-year-old has a woeful record at Cheltenham but his win at Kempton last season was impressive and he may be suited by this step up in trip on his first start since leaving Warren Greatrex. It's also worth taking Sivola de Sivola, who ran with credit when fourth at Cheltenham on his reappearance and the fitting of first-time cheekpieces could have a positive effect.
15:05 - Long Run and Silviniaco Conti are the pair to focus on here and, with two places currently on offer, we need only select one of them. It's a tough decision but ultimately the wise move is to side with the one who has the form in the book rather than the one who needs to improve to take this prize, so Long Run's name will be the one on our ticket.
12:20 - 1, 2
12:55 - 7, 9
13:25 - 1
14:00 - 1, 10
14:30 - 9, 10
15:05 - 2
= 16 lines