Paul Callaghan racing

Paul Callaghan’s Haydock & Ascot Racing Tips – Saturday 19th December

Former national hunt jockey and now broadcaster Paul Callaghan takes a look at Saturday’s racing at Haydock and Ascot.

Here are his best picks for the day, below.


2.40 – Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase over the extended 3 miles 1 furlong.

With the ground set to be very testing and the anticipation that they will be coming home at long intervals, a chance is taken on the Colin Tizzard trained Highest Sun, ridden by BoyleSports’ horse racing ambassador Robbie Power.

He finished a respectable fourth behind Cap Du Nord, in a handicap chase at Newbury on the 28th of November. He’s running off a handicap mark of 134 but is a winner off 142 on heavy ground, that victory came in a match race at Plumpton last December.

There may not be many finishers here, so he might not have to beat much if he jumps and stays.

3.15 – Handicap Hurdle over 3 miles.

I really like the look of Silva Eclipse in this one, trained by Sue Smith and partnered by jockey Ryan Mania.

The selection is going to have to bounce back, having finished down the field in a similar event at Uttoxeter on his latest effort.

I trust that he will and he has posted a number a decent efforts over course and distance, two of which came this year, both on heavy ground which include one victory. On his best form, he looks set to play a part in the finish.


2.25 – Long Walk Hurdle (Grade 1) (GBB Race) over 3 miles.

This has the ingredients to be an absolute cracker. I don’t see the winner coming from outside the top four in the betting and for me, it’s got to be Paisley Park.

It’s not going to be easy, but he looked more like himself when following home Thyme Hill at Newbury at the end of November. A little over a length separated the pair on that occasion and I fancy Paisley Park to reverse that form and get back to winning ways.

3pm – Good Luck Hollie Doyle In SPOTY Silver Cup Handicap Chase (Listed Race) (GBB Race) over 3 miles.

I can’t get away from The Conditional, who is short enough in the market but his form is rock solid.

Regal Encore is interesting having scored over course and distance at the end of October, but he’s all or nothing. He’ll either be bang there or struggle to get round, there’s never a middle ground, so you’re taking a chance investing in him.

Mister Malarky won the Reynoldstown around here as a novice, but he pulled up in this race last year and he’s never won on ground worse than good to soft.

The Conditional is a Cheltenham Festival winner, he should handle conditions and he ran a cracker on his seasonal reappearance, finishing third behind Cloth Cap at Newbury towards the end of November.

3.35 – Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (GBB Race) over 2 miles.

Buzz was very impressive when scoring at Ascot on his latest run, in a time that was less than ten seconds slower than standard, on soft ground. A similar performance will see him hard to beat here.

However, I do like the Dr Richard Newland trained Benson, who completed a hat-trick of victories when scoring at Sandown at the beginning of December. Gavin Sheehan is back in the saddle and I find that interesting that Gavin was jockey up at the beginning of the week when the entries were made.

Connections are clearly of the opinion that despite the horse’s handicap mark going up 12 lbs on his last two runs, he still should be competitive and have opted not to claim. The bubble will surely burst at some stage but it may not burst here!

Best of luck with your bets on the final weekend of horse racing before Christmas and as always, enjoy the action!