Today’s Haydock card is subject to an 8am inspection and in the circumstances it might be prudent to concentrate on events elsewhere.

At Ascot, I hope to see Drumcliff (1.15) follow up his Wincanton run in November for Harry Fry and amateur jockey Aine O’Connor who rode a winner for the yard at Ludlow over hurdles last month.

The selection is 6lbs higher this afternoon than for his last win, but that start was his chase debut and he is certainly bred to make a better chaser than hurdler given he is a half-brother to the ill-fated Simonsig.

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Jenkins has been raised 11lbs for winning at Kempton last weekend over the minimum trip in first-time blinkers. The six-year-old has often been well supported in the betting and had flattered to deceive, arguably, prior to making all last weekend. He must go close and is the 7/2 market leader with BetVictor.

Le Breuil (7/1 with BetVictor) finished runner up at Aintree on heavy ground last time but the winner (Black Ivory) has subsequently won a competitive event Warwick from a 6lbs higher mark. The vote, however, goes to Irish-raider Crossed My Mind (2.25) who steps back up in trip having finished third in a decent contest at Sandown (2m) last month when he hinted that he might prefer a return to a longer trip. Leading conditional Jonjo O’Neill takes off a valuable 7lbs and at 6/1 with BetVictor he gets the each way vote.

Forest Des Aigles is doubly-declared; at Haydock Park for the Peter Marsh Chase over 3m 2f and Ascot’s valuable 2m 5f Handicap Chase. Few horses have impressed me more this season and he gets the vote for whichever race he goes for although I do have stamina concerns if he takes up the Haydock option. Forest Des Aigles is 10/1 for the Ascot race with BetVictor.

If Haydock gets the go ahead and Forest Des Aigles takes up his preferred option then Acting Lass (3.00) would get the vote. It was only a four-runner race that the selection won last time but his jumping was exemplary at Leicester and Noel Fehily keeps the ride.

Un De Sceaux cannot be opposed in the Grade 1 Clarence House Chase on soft ground and the recommendation is to hope it is a red-letter day for Harry Fry and back Kylemore Lough (3.35) in the market without the favourite. The selection could be backed 12/1 each way two places but I prefer the 7/2 with BetVictor in the betting without Un De Sceaux.

At Taunton, Vocaliser (1.40) can go one better than when runner up at Leicester to a progressive novice from a 2lbs lower mark last week and the six-year-old will be unfortunate to bump into as well-handicapped a horse as Not Another Muddle was last time. Enola Gay makes his chase debut today having won a Catterick hurdle last time although that was a modest contest.

There is a valuable novices’ handicap chase over 3m and Geordie Des Champs would it be something to bet on if it wasn’t for the form of the Rebecca Curtis yard. Paul Nicholls is notoriously quiet in January, but the yard had a winner (Virak) at Ludlow on Thursday and Captain Buck’s (2.50) ran a terrific race at Wincanton on his last start and Virak’s jockey Lorcan Williams takes off a valuable 7lbs today.

Newcastle inspect today for tomorrow’s card and the forecast is poor for the North-East over the weekend. Soft ground is the order of the day at Fontwell and Lisp (1.10) should have a simple enough task in the Novices’ Hurdle. I was very impressed with the filly at Plumpton last time and she looks a possible Fred Winter type to me.

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