Three Faces West can land a festive success in the Tommy Whittle Chase (2.45pm) at Haydock Park on Saturday afternoon – and put himself in line for a potential crack at the Randox Health Grand National in the New Year.
Philip Hobbs’ nine-year-old looked a fine staying chaser in the making when scoring over course and distance in heavy conditions last November before following up with another success at Newbury a month later.
He was talked about with the potential to have a crack at the Grand National, but injury ruled him out for the rest of last season.
A good jumper who seems to handle most conditions, Three Faces West returned with a fine effort when third to Perfect Candidate and Vicente in a 3m3f handicap chase at Cheltenham last month.
He led until the third fence from home, but having been off the track for almost 12 months, he faded late on.
But that was a very good effort and he will have benefited from that first run back.
With course form and the ability to handle testing conditions, he looks sure to resume winning ways and could put himself in line for Aintree in the spring.
Several top staying chasers have won the Tommy Whittle in the past and Comply Or Die finished second in 2007 before going on to glory at Aintree. Victory could propel Three Faces West to trying to follow in his hoofprints.
Clyne is an interesting contender in the Racing UK In HD Novices’ Chase (12.25pm).
A decent hurdler, who has a great record at Haydock over the smaller obstacles and in heavy ground, Clyne may be able to transfer that form now sent chasing. He should be well schooled by Everton FC-supporting trainer Evan Williams and can make a winning debut.
Eminent Poet is another who has his ideal conditions and can win the Watch Racing UK On BT TV Handicap Hurdle (11.55am).
Venetia Williams’ six-year-old has yet to win in two starts this season, but is down to just a 2lb higher handicap mark than when winning a similar event at Lingfield last season. With his jockey’s 7lb claim, Eminent Poet may get back to winning ways.
Donald McCain’s Ubaltique is now on a decent mark and will also handle the heavy conditions, so should be able to get back to winning ways in the Watch Racing UK On The Go Handicap Chase (1.35pm).
The Listed Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Registered As Abram Novices’ Mares’ Hurdle) (1pm) is an interesting contest despite having only five runners.
Willie Mullins’ Court Artist bids to provide the Irish maestro a first win at Haydock. But with his stable in such fine form at present, Dan Skelton may deny him with recent Warwick winner Molly The Dolly.
Tom George’s Kk Lexion has a good change of bouncing back to form in the Bet At racinguk.com Handicap Hurdle Cl2 (2.10pm), while the Sue Smith-trained Joke Dancer can win the finale, the Racing UK Handicap Hurdle (Challenger Two Mile Hurdle Series Qualifier) (3.20pm).
At Ascot Martin Todhunter’s Monbeg River can land the Ascot Handicap Chase (1.50pm) and Unowhatimeanharry can bounce back from his shock defeat to Beer Goggles at Newbury to win the Grade One JLT Reve De Sivola Long Walk Hurdle (2.25pm) for a second time.
Jonjo O’Neill’s Go Conquer can grab a hat-trick in the Listed Lavazza Silver Cup Handicap Chase (3pm).
11.50am Eminent Poet
1pm Molly The Dolly
2.10pm Kk Lexion
2.45pm Three Faces West (NAP)
3.20pm Joke Dancer
12.40pm This Is It
1.15pm Adrien Du Pont
1.50pm Monbeg River
3pm Go Conquer
11.45am Silva Eclipse
12.15pm Barrys Jack
12.50pm Conquer Gold
1.25pm Point The Way
2pm Morning With Ivan
2.35pm Dubai Angel
12pm Demons And Wizards
1.10pm Yogi’s Girl
1.45pm Red Label
2.20pm Temple Road
3.30pm Malt Teaser
Court Artist bids to give Willie Mullins a first Haydock winner
Court Artist will bid to provide Willie Mullins a first ever winner at Haydock Park when she lines up in the Betfred Home Of Goals Galore Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle on Saturday.
The six-year-old runs in the colours of the Blue Blood Racing Club, a syndicate made up entirely of members of the An Garda Siochana – Ireland’s National Police Service.
The winner of a Kilbeggan bumper over the summer, Court Artist disappointed on her hurdling debut at Down Royal in September. She has since won at both Ballinrobe and Wexford.
James Fenton, racing manager for the owners, said: “It’s our first runner as a club in the UK and Haydock have been very accommodating. We’ve 15 lads going over and it’s very exciting.
“The press weren’t very kind to her after she ran in Down Royal, but she won well in Ballinrobe and beat a very good mare in Barra in Wexford the last day. She was less than three lengths behind Let’s Dance in Cheltenham last season.
“There aren’t many opportunities for novice mares in Ireland, so Willie and Patrick (Mullins) picked out this race and, as always, we left it to them. I don’t think she’ll mind the ground. She’s a small mare, but she seems to have the heart and the engine and all the family go in testing conditions.”
Haydock hosting second festive fixture with The Last Fling Chase day
Haydock Park are hosting a second festive fixture next Saturday. The Last Fling Chase day features another seven-race card and a family day at the races.
The Last Fling Chase is named after Sue Smith’s former smart chaser, who won the race in 2000.
Gates also open at 9.30am, with the opener, the Bryn Gates Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, is due off at 11.50am.
The finale, the Platt Bridge Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race is at 3.20pm with the feature, The Last Fling Chase at 2.10pm
Prices start at £18 for the Grandstand and Paddock. It is £31.50 for the County Enclosure, while there are hospitality packages available, by ringing 01942 402624.
For tickets and more details at http://haydock.thejockeyclub.co.uk/events-tickets/whats-on/ or on the ticketing hotline 0344 579 300.
Over the festive period watch out for… Bristol De Mai,Vintage Clouds, Wild West Wind and Sizing John
BRISTOL DE MAI (N Twiston-Davies)
A hugely impressive winner of the Betfair Chase at Haydock, he bids for the next leg in the Chase Triple Crown, the King George VI Chase, at Kempton on Boxing Day. He faces Might Bite and Thistlecrack but he is improving and can land the Grade One feature, especially if the ground eases.
VINTAGE CLOUDS (Sue Smith)
The seven-year-old was second to Clan Des Obeaux at Haydock last month and looks set to step up in trip for the Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby on Boxing Day. Has run well in some good staying chases without winning, but looks a progressive horse. He will go close in the Grade Three contest in Yorkshire.
WILD WEST WIND (Tom George)
Won the Coral Welsh Grand National Trial well and will go for the big one itself next Wednesday. Has only had four chase starts but is progressing nicely. He handles testing conditions well if there is any more ease in the ground at Chepstow. Can make the frame at least and might just win.
SIZING JOHN (Jessica Harrington)
The Cheltenham Gold Cup hero is set to remain in Ireland over the festive period instead of having a crack at the King George. And it can pay off for the seven-year-old who can land a sixth straight victory over fences in the Leopardstown Christmas Steeplechase, formerly the Lexus.