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Paul Nicholls: The verdict on my Saturday runners at Haydock and Ascot

Paul Nicholls (above) sends three to Ascot and four to Haydock on Saturday
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Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls provides detailed analysis of his runners' chances as they head to Ascot and the Betfair-sponsored card at Haydock this Saturday afternoon...

"You should never write off a horse of Zarkandar's class in handicaps and we know he handles the ground so it wouldn't surprise me one bit to see him go close."

12:10, Haydock - Dynamite Dollars

I'm pleased with the way he been making up for lost time this season, winning twice on soft ground so he should handle the testing conditions at Haydock.

Dynamite Dollars is built like a proper National Hunt prospect, seems to be improving and is ready for this step up in class. I expect him to go close.

13:15, Haydock - Clan Des Obeaux

Ran really well in a match against Whisper at Kempton 12 days ago, jumping soundly and giving his sole opponent a real scrap before being beaten only half a length.

That was a highly encouraging performance by Clan Des Obeaux on his first appearance since he had an op to improve his breathing which I'm sure had been troubling him last season.

Still only five he is a big, raw horse who should continue to progress with experience but is up against some smart prospects here including Dan Skelton's Born Survivor who looked very good at Wetherby last time. So I am more hopeful than confident about his chances.

14:05, Ascot - Frodon

Is finding life a fair bit harder in his second season as a chaser having won six times from eight runs in the previous campaign.

He was facing mission impossible last time at Sandown against Mite Bite but as usual he performed with great credit in finishing second, eight lengths behind the winner.

Frodon has achieved so much already for a five-year-old and while I could not be confident of him coming out on top in this company he should be in the money again.

14:25, Haydock - Silsol

Has been an absolute star for us over the years and won the bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby just over 12 months ago on his return after a summer break before missing the rest of the season with a leg injury.

As he has been back in good form I was hoping to aim him at the same race at Wetherby but just ran out of time.

While Silsol is ready to go now, having to carry top weight in such a competitive handicap is quite an ask so it obviously helps that Henry Morshead can claim 7lbs.

It is also a plus that he showed he was forward enough to win first time up last season.

14:25, Haydock - Zarkandar

Is a magic horse who has won almost £900,000 in a stellar career stretching back to the 2011 Triumph Hurdle.

Zarkandar showed he retained all his old enthusiasm last season by winning the Rendlesham at Haydock and is still clearly enjoying life on the gallops at the age of 10.

He goes well fresh and would have won first time up last season until unseating Sean Bowen late on at Aintree.

You should never write off a horse of Zarkandar's class in handicaps and we know he handles the ground so it wouldn't surprise me one bit to see him go close.

15:15, Ascot - San Benedeto

He ended a brilliant campaign last season by winning a Grade 1 chase at Aintree and then put up a career best when finishing second to stablemate Politologue in the Haldon Gold Cup early this month.

San Benedeto remains in good shape at home and with Bryony Frost taking off a handy 5lbs I'd say he has a decent each way chance.

15:50, Ascot - Doctor Rhythm

Won his sole point-to-point at Holnicote in a canter in the spring. While it was only a maiden he jumped soundly and quickened up really well to put his seal on the race.

While I don't know the quality of the horses he beat he was undeniably impressive.

Dr Rhythm is quite keen on the gallops but is still a baby at the moment and is one for the future over hurdles in time.


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