|2pts win Red Merlin in 15.40 Haydock at best morning price.||Acts on the ground, has a touch of class and yard are in fine form.|
The big race at Haydock on Saturday is the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle, perhaps better known as the Swinton. It's a Grade 3, and an extremely valuable prize.
The horse I like the look off - from a trainer in very good form - is RED MERLIN, trained by Donald McCain and the mount of Jason Maguire.
He's been in very good form over hurdles, both last season and this, before finishing fourth last time out in the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr.
That was a slightly messy finish; he travelled very strongly and came there with every chance but wasn't beaten far and finished in front of Charm School and Petit Robin who reoppose.
Most of his winning form has been on top of the ground but he does have form on soft as well and the course is apparently in very good condition, so I've every hope he'll act.
This is a track, after all, that he won the Old Newton Cup on when racing on the flat and Red Merlin has got a touch of class, so off his weight he looks quite attractive here.
It is unsurprisingly a wide-open race.
Nicky Henderson and his team are represented by Lifestyle, Petit Robin and All The Aces. Lifestyle came good last time when winning at Aintree, beating Conquisto with Dream Esteem in fourth, and after a light winter campaign she's in good form and is one to be wary of.
All The Aces is another horse further down the weights who was smart on the flat. He's disappointed on his last two stars but was always a soft ground horse on the level and with those conditions in place he could be set for a big run off a pretty light weight.
Others that would have a chance include Arab League, who ran well behind Gibb River at Sandown, while on his best form Ubi Ace, the mount of Tony McCoy, is another to bear in mind.
Wide-open, but I'm going to take a chance on Red Merlin for the very much in-form Donald McCain.