What a Saturday we have in store with a good card at Ascot, while the Betfair Chase headlines the action at Haydock.

Here are Nick Luck’s fancies.


ALNADAM may be the outsider here, but he’s worth a small interest at 14/1 in Haydock’s small field opener (1.50pm). The simple reason for this is that he could get an uncontested lead and get into the sort of rhythm on the front end with his good jumping that gets others on the back foot round Haydock. This is likely to be as sharp a test as favourite Bravemansgame wants, while classy Itchy Feet might have a bit too much time to think in a small field and Pay The Piper could use softer ground. The selection has little to make up with them on ratings and should reappear a stronger horse this season.

FLIGHT DECK (17/2) looks a strong possibility to provide Jonjo O’Neill Jnr with a big Saturday winner to mark his comeback in the stayers’ handicap hurdle (2.25pm). I liked this horse’s win at Wetherby against hardened opposition, when he clearly was only just doing what was required. As a result, he’s only gone up three pounds, but was surely value for a fair bit more. Connections may have the Pertemps Final in mind in due course, but there’s incentive to go up a bit more to guarantee a run in that and this looks too valuable a prize to leave behind.

NEXT DESTINATION is the suggestion at 15/2 in a really intriguing Betfair Chase (3.00pm). It goes without saying that Paul Nicholls will have him ripe and ready for this, while favourite A Plus Tard, for example, is most likely not being brought to full boil until the spring. In addition, with Chatham Street Lad and Imperial Aura in here, Bristol De Mai may very well find this a rather different affair on the front end than he’s used to. The selection is a very strong stayer and a very good jumper, whose second to Galvin at the Festival only looks better in light of that horse’s subsequent exploits.

STRICTLYADANCER looks a good favourite in the finale (3.35pm). He’s really picked up the thread the last twice, and looked miles ahead of the game in an amateurs’ race at Cheltenham last weekend. He started his winning off a very low mark, so he’s able to race in a similar grade, and looks like he has loads more to offer at this level at 13/8.


BENNYS KING is a slightly left field suggestion at 7/1 in the 1965 Chase at Ascot (2.05pm). Six pounds better off with Dashel Drasher and Master Tommytucker on their Ascot Chase running, he should also get closer to them on this better ground (looked very tidy on quick ground at Newbury a couple of years ago). You can forget his first run as he has laid an egg on his seasonal debut the last two years before winning next time – he clearly needs a run to get him there. Obviously a peak form Lostintranslation or Defi Du Seuil will beat him, but who knows where we are with that pair at the moment.

GOSHEN is the sort of horse that divides opinion sharply, but I’m keeping the faith in the Coral Hurdle (2.40pm). The presence of Buzz means the selection is a very backable price at 7/2, and a horse of his talent is always dangerous to overlook at those odds. Everything is right for a big run in terms of track and field size. There are other forward going horses in the race – Molly Olly’s Wishes and Song for Someone – but they would be crazy to try to mix it with Goshen on the front end, and he may well he left alone. If his head’s in the right place, he’ll take a fair bit of stopping.

BEFORE MIDNIGHT can beat Sky Pirate again in the closing handicap chase (3.15pm) despite the pull in the weights from Cheltenham. This is a fast progressive horse who bounces off nice ground and jumps really well. With the emphasis on speed here, I’m not sure the likes of Monsieur Lecoq and cheek-pieced Amoola Gold will quite get into this early enough, and the selection might just gallop and jump all these off their feet at 2/1.