With Ascot and Taunton already lost to frost, fans of the jumps will be hoping that Haydock beats the cold and gets the go ahead this Saturday. If it does, the going is likely to be extremely testing. That shouldn’t worry course-specialist Bristol De Mai and his fellow Peter Marsh Chase hopefuls, but the 3m 1f trip is likely to be a gruelling test for the sextet.
Epatante, who heads the market for the Champion Hurdle trial, isn’t sure to relish these conditions, while market rival I Like To Move it has done all of his best running on good ground.
Similarly, the preceding Supreme Novice trial has potential in abundance but heavy-ground form in short supply; conditions are likely to bear little resemblance to those the runners will encounter on the first day of the Festival.
Should Haydock be abandoned, all eyes will turn to Lingfield, where the Winter Oaks takes centre stage. Al Agaila, a most impressive winner last time out, is likely to be a short-priced favourite.