Champion hurdler Buveur D’Air set to return to action at Haydock
Haydock Park stages a fantastic seven-race card on Saturday which is set to feature the return of dual Champion Hurdle hero Buveur D’Air.
The meeting gets under way at 12.55pm if it passes a morning inspection, with the finale at 4.20pm.
Officials at Haydock are “pretty hopeful” the meeting will go ahead after the course surprisingly passed a Thursday morning inspection.
Prospects of racing at the Merseyside venue appeared bleak on Wednesday, with the ground already described as heavy, waterlogged in places and further rain expected from Storm Christoph.
It was widely expected that a fixture featuring four Grade Two races would be abandoned after clerk of the course Kirkland Tellwright called an inspection for 8am on Thursday morning.
However, despite a further 35 millimetres of rain falling on Wednesday, and many parts of the north-west suffering from flooding, Tellwright reported conditions at Haydock to be raceable.
He said: “It is remarkable – we’re fit to race today.
“I suppose we can take certain quantities of rain – and beyond that, it’s just going down the drain.”
A further precautionary inspection has been called for 8am on Saturday morning because of the threat of frost.
Tellwright added: “We’ve called a precautionary inspection for Saturday morning, just to cover us for the forecast frost.
“We’d be pretty hopeful that shouldn’t be an issue. It (the course) is under frost covers. They won’t work as well as they would on dry ground, but we’ll cross our fingers and expect to race.
“In terms of rain, we’re forecast the odd shower, but nothing in the context of what we’ve had in the previous three days.”
The pick of the action is the Peter Marsh Chase and the New One Hurdle. We have previewed the pick of the action with stats and analysis.
Boasting a prize fund of £47,250, the Grade Two New One Hurdle (3.15pm) sees a field of five go to post for the contest which gets under way at 3.15pm over two miles.
The headline act is the reappearance of the mighty Buveur D’Air after 420 days off the track. One of the finest hurdlers of his generation, he boasts two Champion Hurdle wins to his name and was last seen finishing a gallant second in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle having injured his foot during the race after a splinter of wood was found in his foot.
After a long rehabilitation process and surgery, Seven Barrows maestro Nicky Henderson is relishing getting the multiple Grade One winner back on the track and he looks to hold leading claims of making a winning reappearance in this three-runner event.
Navajo Pass is progressive and the Triumph Hurdle fourth bounced back to form with success at Musselburgh earlier this month. He is still open to plenty of improvement and could give the former champion something to think about.
The three runners are completed by Ballyandy. He was third in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on his previous start and will be suited by testing ground.
Stamina will be the order of the day in the Peter Marsh Chase over three miles and one furlong. The £47,250 is live on ITV Racing at 2.40pm. The contest features the highly progressive Royale Pagaille who is unbeaten in two starts this term. He was a stunning winner at Kempton last time out when jumping for fun and looks the one to beat given he handles testing ground.
Anthony Honeyball could be doubly represented with Sam Brown, a good third to Imperial Aura at Carlisle on his debut this term and Acey Milan who is proven in soft ground and ran well at Haydock over a similar trip in November, 2019.
Sam’s Adventure tasted success at Haydock in December when landing the Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase and is another to consider along with Potters Legend who boasts winning form over course and distance.
Smooth Stepper is another winner at Haydock and warrants consideration along with Crievehill who must bounce back from below par efforts this term and Lamanver Pippin who boasts some start form in his back catalogue, but must improve on his latest effort when seventh at Chepstow last time out.
Elsewhere on the card, the exciting Allart made the perfect start to life over fences last time out and looks the one to beat in the opening contest at 12.55pm, in which Marown can give him the most to think about.
Away from Haydock, Grade One action takes centre-stage at Ascot with the £100,000 Clarence House Chase. Politologue captured the Tingle Creek chase on his return to action in December and heads the market at 6/5, with Waiting Patiently, a fine second in the King George last time out, an 11/4 shot having been supplemented for the race earlier this week.
2020 winner Defi Du Seuil (7/2) is another likely runner along with First Flow (10/1) who is unbeaten in two starts this year.
Selections for Haydock on Saturday
1.30pm Nada To Prada
2.05pm Farrants Way
2.40pm Royale Pagaille
3.15pm Buveur D’Air
3.50pm Destined To Shine
Tips and analysis via Betting Expert