Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson

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1.50 Haydock

Bravemansgame wasn’t far off the best novice hurdlers last season and made a good start to his chase career at Newton Abbot recently, beating subsequent Charlie Hall winner Fusil Raffles with plenty in hand. Nicholls has compared him favourably to Denman in the past and this looks an ideal stepping-stone before he heads for bigger prizes.


2.05 Ascot

Dashel Drasher has won all four previous visits to Ascot and he can extend his unbeaten track record. Jeremy Scott’s eight-year-old won a novice hurdle here in 2019 and added three chases over course and distance last winter, completing the hat-trick in a Grade 1 where he got the better of Master Tommytucker despite idling in the closing stages. That form sets a clear standard.


2.25 Haydock

It is almost a year since Riggs last tasted success. However, the son of Mahler produced some fair form in defeat at the end of last season and he was better than the finishing result suggests at Aintree last month, as he was held up in a steadily run race but was beaten less than five lengths. The six-year-old has plenty more to offer in what should be a more suitable test of stamina.


2.40 Ascot

Song For Someone wasn’t off the boil at the end of last season but a five-length win over Call Me Lord here last November was a career best and he ran to a similar level when beating Silver Streak at Cheltenham three weeks later. He goes well fresh so there’s every chance that a summer holiday will have done him good.


3.00 Haydock

Course legend Bristol De Mai can equal Kauto Star’s record of four wins in the first Grade 1 of the new jumps season. Lostintranslation proved narrowly too good in the 2018 renewal but Nigel Twiston-Davies’s star chaser has won this race on three other occasions, including last year when he outstayed Clan Des Obeaux. He struggles to win at other venues so a couple of subsequent defeats can be easily forgiven, and he is effective on all ground so the unseasonable dry spell shouldn’t inconvenience him.


3.15 Ascot

It’s hard to rule out any of the seven runners in this £85,000 handicap chase but Before Midnight is the one to beat. He ended a lengthy losing run in a bumper at Kempton in February and has added two subsequent handicap chases, most recently at Cheltenham last month where he went off in front and was never put under any real pressure. An 8lb higher mark may not stop him at a track where front-runners can prove hard to catch.


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