Day Two of our November Meeting promises to a great day’s racing with two Grade 2 races the highlight of the seven-race card.
14:05: Amlin 1965 Chase
Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh team up once again withAl Ferofin the Amlin 1965 Chase at 14:05.
The pair enjoyed a fruitful partnership for the best part of 10 years until Walsh decided to relinquish the position in order to spend more time at home in Ireland.
Walsh will be also be on board favouriteFaugheenfor Willie Mullins in the Coral Hurdle (Registered As The Ascot Hurdle) and as Nicholls' stable jockey Sam Twiston-Davies will be at Haydock, the ride on Al Ferof was up for grabs.
The nine-year-old won the Grade Two contest 12 months ago, when he faced just one rival, but concedes weight all round this time and Nicholls has warned the grey will improve for the outing.
He told Racing UK: "We've done as much as we can, but if he's going to go for the King George he needs a run. He goes well fresh but he will improve for it.
"I don't think he was quite at his best in the spring and he's sometimes funny and does go off a bit, but he was only beaten seven lengths in the Ryanair when he didn't run to his best
"In the King George he ran a blinding race on ground that was quite testing, which suited the winner. If the ground was better this year, I think it would give him a big chance as three miles on decent ground is ideal for him.
"We've trained him a little bit differently, we've trained him as a stayer - you never know.
"(The King George) is why we're keen to let him run on Saturday, to get a prep into him and take the freshness off and tune him up for the King George and pray we don't get too much rain."
Nicholls also runsBury Parade, second in the BetBright Chase but pulled up in the bet365 Gold Cup last time out.
He will be ridden by Nick Scholfield, who said: "This looks the ideal race for Bury Parade.
"He's at a track he likes, he's won there before and he won't mind any rain that falls.
"I rode him at Newbury and that was the last time he went left-handed as he jumped out to his right that day.
"He's in good form and has been going well at home. I think Paul has had this race in mind for him for some time."
Weighing room veteran Andrew Thornton has come in for the ride on Mick Channon'sSomersbyand he believes the 2012 Victor Chandler Chase winner could be the forgotten horse in the race.
"He loves it round there, he's won a Victor Chandler and I think he looks a big price," said Thornton.
"I've ridden for Mick for a lot of years on and off, way back in the Clifton Set days (1995), and I still go and do a bit for him and Hen (Knight, Somersby's former trainer).
"It's nice to get the opportunity on a busy Saturday on a class horse like him.
"I've had a good start to the season, I'm on 12 winners, and it's 967 in total so I'm inching towards four figures.
"Amlin have sponsored me for the best part of 10 years, so it would be lovely to win their big race.
"It will also be nice to get one over on Philip Hobbs who seems to be winning everything at the moment!"
Hobbs is represented by the evergreenWishfull Thinking, who put up a startling display to win the Old Roan Chase on his seasonal reappearance at Aintree.
Emma Lavelle'sFox Appealhas plenty to find on the figures, but his trainer feels he is better off in a race like this rather than a handicap with a welter burden.
He was last seen dead-heating with Colin Tizzard's Hennessy hopeTheatre Guide.
14:40: Coral Hurdle (Registered As The Ascot Hurdle)
Willie Mullins is refusing to look beyond the Coral Hurdle with the hugely excitingFaugheen.
Ante-post favourite for the Champion Hurdle on the back of a sparkling novice campaign, the imposing six-year-old faces six rivals on his return to action.
An eight-length winner of his only point-to-point, he beat the classy Josses Hill by 22 lengths in his sole bumper start and is unbeaten in five outings over hurdles.
He did not turn in the best round of jumping in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, but he powered up the hill to score impressively.
However, it was when Mullins decided to drop him to two miles at the Punchestown Festival that it looked like he could be really special, blitzing a top-class field by upwards of 12 lengths.
With so much strength in depth and a lack of options at home, Mullins sends him for the Grade Two he took with Annie Power 12 months ago and he is keen to see how Faugheen fares before mapping out any plans.
"This race will tell us a lot, and I'm not looking beyond that at the moment," said the Closutton maestro.
It will not be a stroll in the park for Faugheen, though, with Paul Nicholls fielding a Grade One winner in Lac Fontana and Nicky Henderson's returning Blue Fashion taking him on.
Also running areBallyglasheen,Hint Of Mint,First AvenueandHouseparty.
Lac Fontanawill be ridden by Nick Scholfield, who has a good idea of what it takes to win top-class hurdlers as he usually partners Melodic Rendezvous.
With his old friend in action at Haydock, Scholfield had to desert him in his role as number two to Sam Twiston-Davies at Ditcheat.
Lac Fontana won the County Hurdle at Cheltenham and then handled the step up to Grade One company when victorious at Aintree.
He was not disgraced behind Vautour at Punchestown, either.
"It takes a tough horse to even run at both Cheltenham and Aintree but when a horse wins at both meetings they are obviously very good," said Scholfield.
"He's obviously a very decent horse in his own right but he's facing a potentially exceptional horse in Faugheen.
"We're well aware he's up against it but he deserves to take his chance and you should never run away from just one horse as anything can happen.
"It's a shame Melodic Rendezvous is running up at Haydock - it looks like he should get his ground up there - but I can't be in two places at once."