• Tue 26 Sep, 2017
  • 11:47 BST
  • 07:47 EST (BST-4)
  • 13:47 CEST (BST+2)

Five to follow on Saturday

Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Haydock Park and Ascot on Saturday. View selections below.

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BLAKLION (3.15) can defy top weight and give ‘Mr Saturday’ Nigel Twiston-Davies another big scalp in the Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock.

This 3m 4f trip is unchartered territory for last year’s RSA Chase winner but his style of racing suggests Blaklion may well improve slightly for the greater stamina test.

The top weight hasn’t been firing on all cylinders in a light campaign and he has a little bit to find with Wetherby runner-up Wakanda after they filled the places behind Definitly Red. Twiston-Davies was very bullish when assessing this event earlier in the week and clearly expects a big performance.

Course form seems to work out time and again at Haydock and Wakanda signalled a revival in fortunes at Wetherby. He reeled off three Listed handicaps on the spin over staying trips last season and looks to have worked his way back to peak form.

Houblon Des Obeaux returned to form in the Welsh National and the Classic Chase at Warwick last month. The handicapper has given him a chance but deeper ground would have boosted his prospects.

Kruzhlinin scored here in a Fixed Brush Hurdle before chasing home Our Kaempfer at Kempton last month.

Vieux Lion Rouge, a short head victor in the Becher Chase in early December, was on my shortlist as a previous course winner but David Pipe is hardly banging in the winners this month. That negative apart, the eight-year-old should be thereabouts.

Gas Line Boy was pulled up in this race last year on very testing ground and will appreciate this better surface.

Progressive Goodtoknow, an easy Hereford winner last time (heavy), has a decent chance of giving Kerry Lee another victory following stablemate Bishops Road’s success 12 months ago.

Vintage Clouds, runner-up three times in November/December, was faring well behind easy course winner Bristol De Mai when departing three out and should be in the shake-up.

The Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle is a typical puzzler but CALL TO ORDER (2.40) is bidding to defy a 7lb rise for his Cheltenham success in first-time cheekpieces.

Killiam Moore takes off 3lb and Call To Order had earlier put down a good marker when third to Behind Time and Solomn Grundy at Cheltenham in November.

Tony Martin sends over Mydor, the mount of Brian Hughes, and the seven-year-old looks an improver on the evidence of his second to Oscar Sam in the three-miler at Leopardstown in January.

Dadsintrouble is up 12lb for his recent course success, which could well find him out in this company, while a similar remark applies to Market Rasen scorer Eminent Poet.

Hats off to Henry Daly for plotting Nordic Nymph’s six wins from her last seven starts, and the mare looked better than ever when seeing off Midnight Sapphire at Kempton.

AGRAPART (2.05) has no easy task conceding weight all round in the Betfred Rendlesham Hurdle over 2m 7f but looks the safest option.

Last year’s Betfair Hurdle winner returned to winning form when edging out L’ami Serge in the Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham and there are holes to be picked in his chief rivals’ form.

Paul Nicholls has wasted no time switching Aux Ptits Soins back to hurdles after a horror show over fences when tailed off in a four-runner affair at Doncaster. If his confidence hasn’t been shot to bits Aux Ptits Soins is entitled to go very close on his fifth to Thistlecrack in last year’s World Hurdle.

Zarkander, receiving weight, would have been an automatic choice on last season’s form but has been so disappointing this term that he has become a risky proposition.

At Ascot, TEMPLEROSS (3.00) could well be another winning favourite for the Twiston-Davies yard.

His second to Modus in the Lanzarote Hurdle was given a boost when third horse Lord Of The Island sluiced through the Sandown mud to land a Grade 3 hurdle. Templeross led two out at Kempton before being caught on the run to the line.

Doesyourdogbite could never strike a blow at Kempton and has plenty to find with Templeross. However, he had looked progressive when earlier running up a sequence and is better than that tame effort.

Air Horse One steps into a handicap after beating The Unit comfortably at Taunton and should figure along with Nicky Henderson’s Divine Spear, closely matched with Man Of Plenty on their run behind William H Bonney at Cheltenham.

FLETCHERS FLYER (1.50) should strip fitter for his comeback run here in December when fading into seventh spot behind Regal Encore in the Silver Cup Chase.

His previous start came 231 days earlier at Punchestown when landing a competitive 3m 6f handicap and Harry Fry will be expecting big things from Fletchers Flyer this afternoon under Noel Fehily.

Arpege D’alene won a novice chase at Aintree in November and ran well in defeat behind Tour Des Champs and Doctor Harper at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.

Bigbadjohn was sent off favourite for the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster but fell on the flat when labouring. His earlier form, when chasing home Thistlecrack at Newbury and beating Our Kaempher, gives him a definite chance.

Flintham will ensure a lively end-to-end gallop and will be better for his recent run behind Taint River at Chepstow following a 309-day absence.

There are Cheltenham clues aplenty, with Cue Card taking centre stage in the Betfair Ascot Chase and Yanworth putting his Champion Hurdle credentials on the line in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton.

If you fancy either, or both, for the festival it might be worthwhile betting them beforehand with one of the non-runner, no bet firms as their respective odds will no doubt contract if successful.

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