Alary in mix for Haydock prize
Colin Tizzard expects to give Alary, one of his five Cheltenham Gold Cup entries, his English debut in the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock on Saturday.
The seven-year-old, third in last year's 'Grand Steeple' at Auteuil, was bought by Alan Potts in the autumn and is one of 24 horses entered in the three-mile race, which is a handicap.
"He has got to start somewhere," said Tizzard (right), who sent out his 43rd winner of the season when Kings Walk won at Plumpton yesterday, "and I wouldn't be surprised if he ran twice before Cheltenham. He looks like a nice horse at home and his form in France is why we bought him.
"But he's got to go and do it in English conditions now. It's a learning curve for us. It hasn't been discussed but I expect Tom O'Brien will ride - he's schooled him."
Clearly, there is likely to be plenty of opposition at Haydock and one tough rival would be Definitly Red, which is trained by Brian Ellison.
An easy winner of the Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby on St Stephen's Day, Definitly Red has the option of the Great Yorkshire Chase at Doncaster a week later.
"The ground will come into it and we'll just see who goes where. He's rated 149 now and he would be entitled to go for something like the Cotswold Chase or the Denman, but there's more money in the handicaps," said Ellison.
"If he wins at Haydock or Doncaster, then he might go for a race like that."
The Willie Mullins-trained Un De Sceaux and several contenders for the Champion Chase at Cheltenham are among the eight horses left in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot on Saturday.
According to Colm O'Connell, son of Un De Sceaux owner Edward, the Closutton camp is expecting a helter-skelter race featuring a handful of likely front-runners.
"When the you look at Ar Mad, Special Tiara and Royal Regatta, without knowing what our tactics will be, that looks like a red-hot pace," said O'Connell.
"Ascot suits our lad, though, when he won this last year it was just about his most impressive performance.
"He doesn't have to make the running, we saw that in the Tingle Creek, and I think the big thing we have that the others don't is Ruby Walsh.
"He's just always in the right place, he knows where to be and can change plans at the drop of a hat. I'm very hopeful he'll be going there but it looks a hard race."
The field also includes former champion chaser Dodging Bullets, Henry de Bromhead's recent Kempton winner Special Tiara and the Gary Moore pair Ar Mad and Sire De Grugy.
"They'll work in the morning and then I will have a better idea." Moore explained yesterday,
Un De Sceaux, which won the race last year, was 5/6 in early betting from William Hill, followed by Ar Mad at 2/1, Sire De Grugy at 5/1, with 10/1 bar. (© Daily Telegraph, London)