A TOP-CLASS jump meeting should distract race fans from Christmas shopping tomorrow when staying chasers will be contesting a £60,000 Class A race at Haydock Park.
The three-mile Tommy Whittle Chase has attracted 15 worthy entries at the five-day stage.
Highly regarded Keen Leader, from the Jonjo O'Neill yard, returns to the scene of his 26-length victory notched up on the course in November 2002. The gelding unseated his rider at Chepstow last Saturday and the Merseyside track may again bring out the best in the horse.
Chives is yet to make a seasonal reappearance as he was a late withdrawal last month. The ground should be more suited to Henrietta Knight's charge, but he lacks race fitness.
Commanche Court was unable to go with the pace over hurdles at Punchestown in May and this Irish challenger will have his followers. Kingsmark did not look happy when running the course and distance last month and will need to reproduce his better form to have any prospects.
Finishing less than two lengths behind Best Mate at Huntingdon last time on soft ground, Valley Henry is worthy of a place. Marlborough is a high-class performer, finishing six lengths behind Ballybough Rasher at Wetherby in the Charlie Hall Steeplechase six weeks ago.
Swansea Bay has done nothing wrong this season, but whether the much-improved gelding is able to extend his winning sequence to five is debatable as trainer Peter Bowen planned to give the seven-year-old a break after his course and distance victory last month.
Hussard Collonges, trained by Peter Beaumont in Yorkshire, finished five lengths behind Swansea Bay last time out and may give Beaumont some compensation for the loss of Bobby Grant by winning this competitive event.
Among the entries for the Tote Placepot Handicap Hurdle is Rhinestone Cowboy, who is making his first racecourse appearance since finishing third behind Rooster Booster in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
Crystal d'Ainay, second behind stable mate Mughas at Aintree last time out when carrying top weight, is suggested to finish in the frame.
Our Armageddon looks capable of stepping up in class to go close in the Philip Leverhulme Memorial Novices Chase.
Racing begins at 12.05pm with the two-mile Lavender Pekin Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle, and the card closes at 3.25pm with the Haydock Park 'Fixed Brush' Novices Hurdle.