Though the ground is likely to be desperate, Haydock's card is far more Placepot-friendly than Ascot which has several small fields.
"The Peter Marsh is bound to be gruelling, but probably not as gruelling as the Welsh National was and for that reason we can be fairly confident of Benbens hanging around until the finish..."
12:20 - Ability to handle conditions will be of particular importance in the staying races, which brings our choices down a little here. That's what brings mudlark Araldur into play after a couple of runs so far this season that suggest he's working back to form. Milansbar has already won a couple of testing-ground handicaps this winter in good style and, so long as Trevor Whelan realises he'll need to exercise more restraint from a hiked mark, he should be thereabouts again.
12:55 - This four-runner novice chase sadly isn't as easy to parse as the market would suggest. Close Touch is probably a deserving favourite and therefore has to go in, though Colour Squadron would be closer if there was any faith in his attitude and dicing with that is a risk we can't afford to take. Cogry also can't be ruled out, is form within reaching distance of the main two.
13:30 - Aso is vying for favouritism on most lists but we he's not the type for us, having plenty to find with Kiama Bay for a start. That one gets in as he'd have been an impressive winner at listed level last time but for a late fall. Qewy is also worthy of our attention, having proved himself a very useful performer on heavy ground in Ireland on the Flat.
14:05 - We're in need of a couple of bankers and the next two legs look to provide them. We start here with The New One, who has already had one easy day out in the Haydock mud this winter and seems certain to have another as he puts the last public touches on his Champion Hurdle prep.
14:40 - Again, the likely favourite is an obvious but welcome banker. Carraig Mor looked like a horse ready to fulfil his potential when winning at the Hennessy meeting and can't be crabbed too much for an early unseat in the Kauto Star, especially given the fences round here aren't nearly so penal.
15:15 - The Peter Marsh is bound to be gruelling, but probably not as gruelling as the Welsh National was and for that reason we can be fairly confident of Benbens hanging around until the finish this time so long as he's over Chepstow. Green Flag hasn't been suited by a shorter trip and the Aintree fences respectively on his two starts this season but has always appealed as one for this type of race. Off a slightly lower mark than he was fourth from at last year's Festival (extremely strong form), he gets in our perm.
12:20 - 1, 2
12:55 - 1, 2, 4
13:30 - 3, 6
14:05 - 1
14:40 - 5
15:15 - 4, 10
= 24 lines