IF racing goes ahead at Haydock on Saturday (inspection due at 8am), here’s a couple of tips for the occasion.

The first of four Grade Two contests on the card is the Altcar Novices’ Chase at 12.20 – and I think LAC DE CONSTANCE will be hard to beat in that.

Dan Skelton’s seven-year-old was seriously impressive on his chasing debut at Kempton in late November, beating the 130-rated Hudson De Grugy by 20L – with the 143-rated Samarrive a further 14 lengths behind – in a canter.

He was pitched straight into G2 company next time out, in the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase at Kempton over Christmas, but unseated at the 8th fence while travelling sweetly. Skelton’s given him 25 days to get over that mishap, and found a lovely opportunity for him to return to winning ways.

Lac De Constance should relish the heavy ground and galloping track – two factors I don’t see being ideal for his main market rival Stage Star. Grand Voyage, the third and final horse in the field, has over 20lbs to make up on form and is surely only playing for that third-placed prize money.

Earlier in the season I labelled Lac De Constance ‘a Grade One horse in the making’ and ‘one of Britain’s best novice chasers’ – fingers crossed that, weather-permitting, he shows that kind of quality on Saturday.

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Just over an hour later, at 1.30, it’s the G2 Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle – more commonly known as the Supreme Trial – and we’ve got a competitive, if not vintage line-up.

Skelton heads the market again, courtesy of the 136-rated Pembroke, and he sets a decent standard. However, I think Olly Murphy’s CHASING FIRE has more scope.

The six-year-old was an expensive recruit from the PTP scene and made a winning start to life under rules when taking a bumper at Wetherby in March last year. He’s won a couple of novice hurdles this term, both at Market Rasen by a widening 16L each time, and connections clearly believe now is the time for a marked step up in Grade.

I completely agree, and this big, strapping son of Maxios looks the type to relish this galloping track and the forecast heavy ground. I’m hopeful of a big run.

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