NEXT DESTINATION is fancied to leave punters in a good place with victory in the Betfair Chase (3.00) at Haydock Park on Saturday.
Paul Nicholls holds the record for wins in the Grade 1 test, having saddled Kauto Star to four triumphs, and Silviniaco Conti to another two.
Next Destination collected in the top tier over hurdles when trained by Willie Mullins before crossing the Irish Sea to go novice chasing for the Ditcheat team last season.
On the back of Grade 2 successes in events at Newbury in November and Warwick in January, my selection then contested the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Next Destination’s second placing, beaten a length and a half, to Galvin ranks as a fine effort – the winner took the silver medal behind the Nicholls-trained Frodon in Down Royal’s Grade 1 Champion Chase three weeks ago.
Lightly raced for a nine-year-old, Next Destination – fitted with cheekpieces for the first time – is capable of better and Harry Cobden’s mount should give favourite A Plus Tard plenty to think about.
Meanwhile FLIGHT DECK is ready for take-off in the Betfair Exchange Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle (2.25) at Haydock.
Punters sent the Jonjo O’Neill-trained son of Getaway off the 5-2 favourite for a three-mile handicap hurdle at Ascot in February, but Flight Deck couldn’t net the money on his first attempt at the trip, returning fourth to J’Ai Froid.
The seven-year-old took a step forward on his return to the fray over the same distance at Wetherby last month, however, gamely defeating Teescomponents Lad by a neck.
The runner-up won at Market Rasen on Thursday, and Flight Deck, again sporting the cheekpieces he wore in West Yorkshire, has the untapped potential to overcome a 3lb rise in the weights.
A hat-trick beckons for STRICTLYADANCER in the My Odds Boost On Betfair Handicap Chase (3.35).
Christian Williams’ seven-year-old travels to Newton-le-Willows on the back of two successes in amateur riders’ contests at Cheltenham this autumn.
Having scored under Paul King at the track’s Showcase meeting in October, Strictlyadancer returned to Prestbury to follow up for Ben Bromley on the Paddy Power Gold Cup undercard last Saturday.
The handicapper has reacted with a 7lb rise in the weights, but Jack Tudor’s mount hasn’t yet reached the bottom of the barrel.
Paul Nicholls has won seven of the past nine runnings of the Double Daily Rewards With Betfair Graduation Chase (1.50), and has another warm favourite in BRAVEMANSGAME.
The winner of Newbury’s Grade 1 Challow Novices’ Hurdle before making the frame at Cheltenham and Aintree, Bravemansgame impressed on his chasing debut with a five-and-a-half-length supremacy at Newton Abbot last month.
There will be long faces among the Ditcheat camp if Harry Cobden’s partner doesn’t justify his hot favourite’s status en route to loftier targets.
At Ascot, AMOOLA GOLD is the value play against market leader Before Midnight in the Gerard Bertrand Hurst Park Handicap Chase (3.15).
Bridget Andrews forced the Dan Skelton trainee’s head in front where it mattered most to deny Monsieur Lecoq by a head over course and distance three weeks ago, and Amoola Gold, fitted with cheekpieces, should remain competitive from a 4lb higher mark.
Cesarewitch hero BUZZ is expected to make a successful return under the winter code as he takes on four opponents for the Grade 2 Coral Hurdle (2.40).
His last outing over obstacles yielded a second to Abacadabras in the top-level Aintree Hurdle last April, and a reproduction of that effort would make Nicky Henderson’s grey hard to beat.
One or two are on retrieval missions in the Grade 2 Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase (2.05), in which DEFI DU SEUIL gets the vote.
Last season was a rub out for Philip Hobbs’ eight-year-old, but seven Grade 1 triumphs on his CV make Defi Du Seuil much the highest achiever in the field, and a wind operation should help the cream to rise to the top.
12.10 MIGHT I
1.15 TOMMY’S OSCAR
2.25 FLIGHT DECK (NB)
3.00 NEXT DESTINATION
12.20 JAZZ KING
12.55 ASK A HONEY BEE
1.30 SHANTOU SUNSET
2.05 DEFI DU SEUIL (NAP)
3.15 AMOOLA GOLD
3.50 DREAM IN THE PARK
12.48 BARBADOS BLUE
1.23 PASS ME BY
2.33 ROOKIE TRAINER
3.08 CHEER’S DELBOY
11.35 MARION’S BOY
12.35 STARRY EYES
1.10 LORD OF THE LODGE
1.45 SON AND SANNIE
2.20 SIXTH STREET
3.30 KEEP RIGHT ON
4.30 END ZONE
5.30 MAY NIGHT
6.00 SYMBOL OF NIGHT
7.30 SOVEREIGN SLIPPER
8.00 PETAL POWER