Barizan earned a possible trip to Galway after putting his problems behind him with a gritty display to take the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle at Haydock.

The seven-year-old had lost his way after a successful juvenile campaign that saw him finish second in the Triumph Hurdle and win a Grade One at Punchestown.

Such had been his decline that he had slipped down the weights so much that he only got into the race after his trainer Evan Williams took out Court Minstrel.

However, he had shown glimmers of recapturing his sparkle when winning at Taunton and finishing fourth in Sandown's Imperial Cup.

Given a wind operation after that run, Barizan (8-1) bounced back when holding Mr Mole by half a length, having led three out.

"He ran a very good race at Taunton in heavy ground and the form of that race has worked out really well," said Llancarfan-based Williams.

"It's well documented that he's had a few problems. He was a very well handicapped horse on his best form, but he'd gone into decline and had a few problems.

"Taunton was a little spark back and then he ran an exceptional race at Sandown.

"He always comes good in the spring and this race was in the forefront of my mind, so we did his wind. It's great to see a horse like him come back and win a race like this.

"Any horse that can go faster than an in-form Barizan is going too fast.

"We might go to Galway. There are usually some good horses go there and he could get in the Galway Hurdle off a handy weight.

"It wouldn't be a surprise to see him on the Flat at some stage as well."

Battle Group (13-2) supplemented his two wins in three days at Aintree last month with a hard-fought success in the Pertemps Network Long Distance Handicap Hurdle.

Jetson led over the final flight but the long run-in took its toll and Battle Group, ridden by Brendan Powell, got up to score by three-quarters of a length.

The winner is trained officially by Kevin Bishop but has been supervised by his assistant Johnny Farrelly, who is set to take out a licence shortly and will have Battle Group himself.

"This is his time of year. The two races at Aintree were brilliant. We came here and he was 15lb higher, so it was a big weight difference, but he stuck his head down and battled. That's all you can ask for," said Farrelly.

There was a sting in the tail for Powell, who was hit with a four-day ban (25-28 May) for using his whip above the permitted level.