By Brian Hughes
I have a hectic afternoon at Haydock with seven rides before the Christmas break.
Fin And Game completed a hat-trick including two hurdles before disappointing in two recent chase attempts.
He reverts to the smaller obstacles and hopefully recaptures some of his best form today.
Speed Company ran well at Uttoxeter and looks the one to beat.
Raise A Spark, a winner of seven under rules, including three chases this season, carries top weight in this four-runner contest.
He is an honest genuine performer who may be in the handicappers pocket at present.
Brelan D’as and Whatswrongwithyou look dangerous in this tricky affair.
Shantung left her previous form behind when winning a maiden hurdle decisively at Lingfield 25 days ago.
She needs to improve again in this stronger listed contest.
I think she may have an each-way chance with Queenofhearts and Danse Idol the main rivals.
Kauto Riko, successful three times for me, was pulled up on his comeback run after the first in a handicap chase at Aintree 42 days ago.
He normally goes well after a break and I hope he can continue the pattern today.
He carries top weight and may find Ontopoftheworld and Shear Rock difficult.
Better Getalong, a winner of two hurdles and two chases, makes his handicap debut today after a break of 252 days.
He is working well at home, goes well fresh and I expect a big run with the stable in excellent form.
Ballymoy, the winner in four of his last five starts, is the one to beat.
Testify is a winner of five, including two chases at the turn of the year. One of the successes was at this meeting last year.
He returned after a 232-day break and wind surgery in listed company at Newcastle last month when he probably needed the run.
He enjoys Haydock and I expect an improved performance today with conditions to suit.
Kimberlite Candy, on a hat-trick mission, is probably the main danger.
Closing Ceremony was in sparkling form during the winter of 2014/15, winning three hurdles at the track.
He has had one run in each of 2016 and 2017 and returns after a break of 408 days.
He may need today’s outing and fitter opponents Road To Gold and The Hollow Ginge may have the edge.
I’d like to take this opportunity to wish every a very Happy Christmas and I’m looking forward to getting back in the saddle on Boxing Day!