Paul Callaghan’s Ascot, Haydock & Taunton Racing Tips – Saturday 23rd January

Former jockey and now broadcaster Paul Callaghan gives his tips for Saturday’s racing.


1.15 – Mares’s Hurdle (Grade 2) (GBB Race) over 2 miles

Roksana is the one they have to beat, her form is solid and I’m sure she will be popular in a lot of Saturday’s multi bets.

I would love to see Magic Of Light complete the hat trick of victories in this race. This is tougher than the previous two renewals of the race, but she’s a cracking mare, who I’m sure will give punters a good run for their money.

With Robbie Power opting to stay in Ireland, Jonjo O’Neill Jr will be getting the leg up on the popular Jessica Harrington trained mare. The ground being as testing as it is, would be a concern but it’s the second race on the card, so the underfoot conditions will be relatively untouched.

1.50 – Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (GBB Race) over 2 miles 3 furlongs & 58 yards

I’m going to take a chance on the Colin Tizzard trained War Lord, ridden by Richard Johnson. He has struggled in graded company in the past but on ratings, he is only rated 2lbs lower than Lightly Squeeze who is currently sitting towards the top of the betting market.

War Lord was a good winner on soft ground at Haydock two starts ago, however he failed to build on that run last time out when he was a beaten favourite.

That run also came at Haydock, where he finished a well held third, in a race won by Albert’s Back. War Lord will need to bounce back but he’s an attractive price to do so.

3pm – Handicap Chase over 2 miles 5 furlongs

Jerrysback gets a tentative nod here for trainer Philip Hobbs and jockey Richard Johnson. He’s only had seven starts over fences and he was last seen finishing third over 3 miles at Ascot on the 21st of December 2019.

I’d imagine he may well run a little fresh in the early stages, but if he can settle and get into a good rhythm, I think he’ll run a nice race.

3.35pm – Clarence House Chase (Grade 1) (GBB Race) over 2 miles & 167 yards

I can’t find any reasons to oppose Politologue. He looked as good as ever when scoring on his seasonal reappearance, in the Tingle Creek at Sandown and I think he’ll take the beating.

With jockey Harry Skelton unable to commit in the Champion Chase at the festival in March, Harry Cobden takes over for his boss Paul Nicholls.

Waiting Patiently ran a cracker in the King George, in what was his first run since December 2019. For investment purposes, I would be afraid of the “bounce factor” with Ruth Jefferson’s charge. In other words, quite often when a horse returns from a long absence through injury, they may run a great race on their first run back but fail to match that run on their next outing for no apparent reason.

Defi Du Seuil needs to recapture his old form and leave his last two poor runs behind, while at a price, with 8 runners, I wouldn’t put anybody off having a small each way wager on First Flow for trainer Kim Bailey and jockey David Bass. He’s won his last five, he’ll need a career best to win this but he’s got a wonderful attitude and rarely runs a bad race.


Peter Marsh Handicap Chase (A Limited Handicap) (Grade 2) (GBB Race) over 3 miles 1 furlong & 125 yards

If Haydock passes an 8am inspection, this will take some getting. With 10 runners declared, I would shocked if over half the field finishes this race. It will be slow motion stuff!

Royale Pagaille was a very impressive winner on his last two starts, which include one victory at Haydock. The manner of those wins have seen his handicap mark rise from 135 to 156. He looks smart but it’s a big ask to carry 11 st 10 lbs in these conditions.

Sam Brown is a horse connections think the world of. He was a nice winner at this meeting last year, but he is quite fragile and this is just his third run since that victory. Ben Godfrey claims 5 lbs off 11 st 6 lbs, which indicates to me that his mark of 152, in this company could be a stretch too far. Acey Milan, is interesting carrying just 10 st 4 lbs with Rex Dingle in the saddle, but he can make mistakes and the fences at Haydock can take quite a bit of jumping.

Sam’s Adventure gets my vote here. He’s a course and distance winner, which came on his last run on the 19th of December. The handicapper has raised him 6 lbs for that success, which I think is fair. He’ll handle the ground and with that recent course and distance win to his name, all he might have to do is jump round to get involved.

3.15 – Hurdle (Grade 2) (Registered As The Champion Hurdle Trial Race) over 2 miles

Tactically this will be very interesting. Former champion Buveur D’Air is the class horse in the race but is having his first start since November 2019. The ground is going to be testing, so I don’t think there will be much pace on early despite both Navajo Pass and Ballyandy liking to go forward.

Anticipating this, I think Buveur D’Air will be quite keen in the early part of the race, putting paid to his chances, come the business end. For that reason, I’m going to oppose him with Ballyandy, who has 6 lbs to find on ratings with Buveur D’Air, but he does have fitness on his side, finishing third behind Silver Streak and Epatante in the Christmas hurdle at Kempton on the 26th of December.

He hasn’t finished out of the first three on his last four runs and I think he can get his head in front for a deserved success, in a race that I’m sure connections will have targeted for some time.


2.10 – Portman Cup Chase (GBB Race) over 3 miles 4 furlongs & 85 yards

Yala Enki ran a gallant race to finish third in the Welsh national just two Saturday’s ago, but I’m afraid that race will have left its mark, and with the Welsh national being postponed to the later date and less time to recover this year, it’s a quick turn out for the Paul Nicholls trained runner.

I’m going to side with the Nick Gifford trained The Mighty Don, ridden by James Davies. He ran a nice race to finish second behind Happygolucky at Cheltenham last month over 3 miles and 1 furlong. He’s a horse that has seemed to have his jumping issues in the early part of his chasing career, but (touching all available wood), he seems to have got his act together.

The step up to 3 miles and 4 furlongs, I think will bring out further improvement. I’m expecting a bold show from The Mighty Don in this one.

Best Bet: The Mighty Don.