Although the Cheltenham Gold Cup is still several months ahead in the racing calendar, the imminent renewal of the Betfair Chase (Saturday 23rd November) contains many of the leading contenders for the highlight of the March festival.
The flat Haydock course with easier ground conditions will provide a different challenge from the undulating and normally sounder surface at Cheltenham, but the forthcoming contest will still be a difficult race to win.
2012 winner Silviniaco Conti will once again be a serious threat. In a much weaker race 12 months previously, he defeated former Gold Cup winner Long Run by just over two lengths and was travelling ominously well at Cheltenham in March when falling three fences from home. He has still to be seriously tested and Paddy Power quote him at 5/2 second favourite
Last year’s runner-up Long Run just seems to lack that extra gear at the finish and his prospects for this race were not improved by a serious blunder at the 11th fence in the recent Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby. He never recovered and for the first time in his chasing career, he finished well adrift from the leading trio. He will need to have improved significantly from that display but SkyBet offer him at 12/1.
Long Run will also need to reverse form with 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner BOBS WORTH who will be making his seasonable reappearance at Haydock. The eight year old gelding only raced twice last season, winning on both occasions, and is a much better performer when travelling on a left handed course, confirmed by his unbeaten seven race record at Cheltenham and Newbury. He will be a tough opponent and is a worthy favourite at 9/4 with William Hill.
Of the other challengers he will face, Dynaste is worthy of a mention. He was second in the Jewson Novices at Cheltenham over 2m 4f but produced a better display when winning the 3m mile novices chase at Aintree. He will be a threat and is priced at 7/1 by Coral while Cue Card will be tackling 3 miles for the first time since being well beaten by Long Run in the 2012 King George at Kempton Park. Cue Card is available at 7/1 with Sporting Bet.
Further down the betting list is TIDAL BAY, a stablemate of Silvianico Conti. Since moving to the yard of Paul Nicholls, Tidal Bay has thrived by winning the Lexus at Leopardstown and finishing second in the Hennessy after winning the 2012 Bet365 Chase at Sandown. He proved his well-being by winning a recent hurdle race at Wetherby and odds of 9/1 with BetVictor are quite appealing for this often controversial horse.
Meanwhile over at Ascot, unbeaten Annie Power may bid to enhance her growing reputation in the feature Coral Hurdle. The five year old Willie Mullins trained mare has barely been tested in seven Irish races but faces stronger opposition in her seasonal reappearance. She is 11/10 at Bet365 but they also quote ZARKANDAR at 13/8 who beat The New One at Aintree over 2m 4f and has also accounted for other more experienced horses. That race also promises to be a fascinating contest.
10pts Win – Zarkandar @13/8 Bet365
VIDEO: Take a look at this exclusive insight into the horses Paul Nicholls plans to send to the Betfair Chase Meeting at Haydock on Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd November.
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