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Tuesday, 22 January, 2019

Four horses to get excited about for the top-class action on Saturday

Blaklion: the Grand National favourite heads to Haydock on Saturday
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Traffic is starting to get backed up on the road to the Cheltenham Festival, as trainers ready their teams for the four-day extravaganza.

This weekend there could be a host of clues for that meeting, and here's four possible runners who could make an impact on Saturday and beyond.

Esprit De Somoza
Betfred TV Victor Ludorum Juvenile Hurdle (Haydock 1.30)

There was not much market confidence behind Esprit De Somoza for Huntingdon's Chatteris Fen Hurdle, but the 20-1 shot lowered the colours of some more fancied rivals in decisive style last month.

A general 25-1 shot for the JCB Triumph Hurdle, those odds might look generous if the Nick Williams-trained four-year-old delivers another winning performance on Saturday.

Call Me Lord
Betway Kingwell Hurdle (Wincanton 2.45)

The Unibet Champion Hurdle winner is already housed at Seven Barrows, and Buveur D'Air is odds-on to defend his crown next month for Nicky Henderson.

But Henderson has so much strength and depth in the ranks, he may be able to add Call Me Lord to the Champion Hurdle contingent. Winner of a Sandown handicap last time out, the five-year-old will be trying graded company for the first time. He looked better than a handicapper at Sandown, and this race could be a good stepping stone.

Call Me Lord: heads to Wincanton for his first run in graded company

Betfred Grand National Trial Handicap Chase (Haydock 3.15)

Runner-up in this race last year before finishing fourth behind One For Arthur in the main event, Blaklion is following a tried and tested route to Aintree, even if his name has been mentioned in connection with the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup this season.

The nine-year-old heads the betting for Aintree's flagship race, and can further enhance his claims on Saturday. If he does succeed, trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies can expect to field more questions on whether he could be tempted to go to Cheltenham beforehand.

Cue Card 
Betfair Ascot Chase (Ascot 3.35)

One of the most popular jumpers in training, the 12-year-old is bidding for a second consecutive win in the race and third overall. He is reportedly thriving and were he to succeed, the sizeable Ascot grandstand roof might be spotted somewhere in the Berkshire countryside.

However Cue Card will need to be at his best, as possible rivals include Top Notch, Coney Island, and Ruth Jefferson's winning machine Waiting Patiently.

Cue Card: the popular 12-year-old will try and win a third Ascot Chase

Saturday cards

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He is following a tried and tested route to Aintree, even if his name has been mentioned in connection with the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup this season
E.W. Terms
Sky bet