Who are Betfair Chase contenders this season?
Cheltenham Bet assess the credentials of five potential Betfair Chase contenders with the jumps season soon back in full swing.
Connections of key staying chasers have revealed they’re aiming their star horses at Haydock‘s Betfair Chase on November 25.
The 3m Group 1 contest is the first leg of the Stayers’ Chase Triple Crown, which the Jockey Club is offering a £1,000,000 bonus for again this National Hunt season.
Only the legendary Kauto Star has achieved the incredible feat of landing this race at Haydock, the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day and the Cheltenham Gold Cup all in the same campaign.
Who are the main Betfair Chase contenders for the 2017/18 season, then? We look at five…
Bristol De Mai
Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies
Betfair Chase odds: 10/1 (BetVictor)
Triple Crown price: 150/1 (BetVictor)
Cheltenham Gold Cup seventh Bristol De Mai is definitely at his most devastating at Haydock, winning the Grade 2 Peter Marsh Chase over course and distance by 22 lengths in January.
He also landed a 2m 4f novices’ Grade 2 over fences at the Merseyside venue 12 months earlier by an even bigger margin; 32 lengths.
Bristol De Mai is the youngest of these Betfair Chase contenders, but that means he has the most scope to improve.
The Peter Marsh is a limited handicap and this horse has arguably found the opposition too hot to handle in subsequent outings in open company, but he has age on his side.
At a track which brings out the best in him, Bristol De Mai’s course form commands respect and handler Twiston-Davies saddled Imperial Commander to Betfair Chase glory back in 2010.
Trainer: Mark Bradstock
Betfair Chase odds: 10/1 (Paddy Power)
Triple Crown price: N/A
Since winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2015, Coneygree has had just three starts including when runner-up in the Betfair Chase last season.
His fragile fitness is a concern, but he would’ve made a reappearance run in the Kerry National at Listowel’s Harvest Festival had the ground been less heavy.
Although unable to go with Cue Card when headed approaching four out at Haydock 12 months ago, Coneygree has had less racing than that rival and is a year younger.
While there is massive potential for this year’s Betfair Chase to be a lot more competitive than the 2016 renewal, Coneygree has each-way claims on his last two runs.
He was a 1 1/2 lengths third to Sizing John in the Punchestown Gold Cup when previously in action, so can go close again.
Trainer: Colin Tizzard
Betfair Chase odds: 8/1 (Paddy Power)
Triple Crown price: 100/1 (BetVictor)
Popular Tizzard trained veteran Cue Card has won the last two renewals, so despite advancing years is among Betfair Chase contenders.
He first won this race as a seven-year-old in 2013 before being a below par fourth the following season, but then back to his best.
Cue Card has beaten the likes of Dynaste, Silviniaco Conti, Long Run, Tidal Bay, Bobs Worth, Holywell and Coneygree around Haydock.
“It’s fantastic that the £1,000,000 is on offer again,” Tizzard said of the Triple Crown bonus.
“Having come so close to winning it two years ago with Cue Card and winning the Betfair Chase again last year we are really excited for the season ahead. Who’s to say this won’t be his year?”
Age is against Cue Card, but his record of three race wins in four Haydock starts means he cannot be counted out.
Trainer: Nicky Henderson
Betfair Chase odds: 4/1 (BetVictor)
Triple Crown price: 40/1 (Paddy Power)
Last year’s quirky top novice Might Bite has no previous course experience, while the Betfair Chase is one of the few big races Henderson has never saddled a winner in.
The Seven Barrows handler has indicated the Triple Crown bonus gives him every incentive to run Might Bite at Haydock.
“The Chase Triple Crown is a fantastic initiative and it’s great that Jockey Club Racecourses are repeating the bonus,” said Henderson.
“Might Bite’s main objective is the King George; so, with this bonus, it would certainly make sense to start at Haydock.”
For all the talent he has, Might Bite almost threw the RSA Chase away when idling and veering alarmingly to the right seeking the stands rail up the Cheltenham hill.
If you don’t hold that and falling at the last with the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at his mercy at Kempton last Christmas against him, then his classy, front-running Aintree victory in the Mildmay Chase points to a big future.
Trainer: Jessica Harrington
Betfair Chase odds: 2/1 (Paddy Power)
Triple Crown price: 25/1 (BetVictor)
What a sensational success Sizing John has proved to be since stepping up in trip.
Chasing Douvan home over 2m wasn’t doing him justice and Sizing John duly showed astronomical improvement when landing three big Gold Cup victories at Leopardstown, Cheltenham and Punchestown.
Those wins, all in Grade 1 company, set the standard among Betfair Chase contenders.
“Ever since Sizing John won in April at Punchestown we have had the Triple Crown on our minds,” said handler Harrington.
“Our aim is to start him off in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November.”
It’s hard to look past Sizing John, who is a worthy favourite.
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