As ever at this time of the year the horse racing calendar features several prominent races, both in the UK and Ireland, with pointers for the March Cheltenham Festival very much in evidence.
Cue Card was considered a surprise winner at Haydock, but not by trainer Colin Tizzard, who always considered the horse capable of a winning a three mile ‘chase. Yet, on his only previous attempt at the distance twelve months previously, he was beaten into fifth place by Long Run in heavy ground. After a wet weekend and heavy rain on Monday, ground conditions may be very soft on Thursday which may not suit the favourite over this trip, but he is available at 3/1 with Paddy Power.
DYNASTE was second to a fitter Cue Card at Haydock and re opposes on Boxing Day. The David Pipe trained horse will improve for his run in the Betfair and won the Feltham Novices Chase over three miles on King George day last year. A confirmed stayer with form on testing ground he can reverse his four length defeat in November and is quoted at 7/2 by BetVictor.
Like Dynaste, Silviniaco Conti was making his seasonal reappearance in the Betfair Chase and emerged with much credit when finishing third, only a length behind Dynaste. With the benefit of a previous race, he won the 2012 Betfair Chase in soft ground which suggests further improvement in condition for Boxing Day, although form figures indicate that he may prefer a left handed track. The Paul Nicholls horse can be backed at 5/1 with Ladbrokes for Thursday’s big race.
Last year’s winner Long Run now has quite a few detractors with several experts claiming that his inconsistent jumping and lack of finishing pace are no longer equitable for winning a top class three mile contest. He has not won a race since scraping home by a neck in last season’s renewal, though conditions should be in his favour. He may not quite be capable of winning this year but may represent good place value at 12/1 with Coral.
Another horse with suspect stamina is Al Ferof and despite winning in heavy ground during 2009, he has only raced once on soft ground since that time. He beat French Opera in an inconclusive two race contest over 2m 3f at Ascot in his seasonal reappearance, but he has yet to race over three miles yet Sporting Bet offer him at 4/1 to win at his first attempt at the distance.
Of the outsiders, Irish raider Mount Belbulben should have no problems with the trip but may lack the necessary class while Menorah may struggle over three miles on softer ground, which may also apply to former Ryanair winner Riverside Theatre.