Betfair Chase Preview
Last updated: November 21, 2019 by Leon Marshal
The feature race at Haydock Park on Saturday is the £200,000 Grade 1 Betfair Chase over an extended three miles. The event was first held in 2005 and quickly became established as a significant trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Trainer Paul Nicholls won the race four times with Kauto Star (2006, 2007, 2009, 2011) and twice with Silviniaco Conti (2012, 2104). Colin Tizzard’s Cue Card (2013, 2015, 2016) won the race three times before Bristol De Mai joined the list of repeat winners in 2017 and 2018. The race is the first leg of the £1 million Triple Crown bonus, awarded to the owners of any horse who goes on to win the King George VI Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the same season.
Bristol De Mai seeks Betfair Chase hat-trick
Nigel Twiston-Davies has been in bullish mood as he prepares Bristol De Mai for his hat-trick bid. No horse has managed to win the race in three successive seasons but the popular grey is as short as even money on Saturday.
He has sometimes been branded a mud lark after romping to wide margin victories here, notably when beating Cue Card by 57 lengths in 2017. However, he does not need bottomless ground to show his best form and last year defeated Native River on good ground. He also finished a creditable third to Al Boum Photo in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Bristol De Mai can be forgiven his subsequent defeat at Aintree and goes well fresh.
His main market rival is the progressive Lostintranslation, an impressive winner on the Grade 1 Mildmay Novices’ Chase in April. That victory earned him a place on many short lists for the Cheltenham Gold Cup this year and he reappeared with an easy victory at Carlisle. Runner-up Count Meribel failed to advertise the form at Cheltenham last weekend but Lostinstranslation won with plenty in hand. Both he and Bristol De Mai like to race up with the pace so it will be a fascinating tactical battle over the first few fences.
Frodon back up in trip at Haydock
Paul Nicholls bids for record seventh winner in the race with Frodon, ridden by Bryony Frost. The combination provided one of the highlights of last season’s Cheltenham Festival with their brave success in the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase.
Nicholls had toyed with the idea of running the gelding in the Gold Cup after he won the Cotswold Chase in January. The shorter trip of the Ryanair played to Frodon’s strengths and he will be sharper for a recent pipe-opener at Aintree. Frost will probably be happy to sit behind the pace early on and conserve Frodon’s stamina.
The small but select field is completed by Ballyoptic, a stable companion of the favourite. The nine-year-old came within a nose of winning the Scottish National in 2018 so is very much an out-and-out stayer. He earned his place in this race by beating Elegant Escape in the Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase at the start of the month. Last season he finished sixth in the Welsh National and fell four out in the Aintree Grand National. Those races could be on the radar again for the nine-year-old but he may find the opposition a bit too quick for him on Saturday.
Bristol De Mai @5-4 at Betfred
The Betfair Chase is due off at 3.00 at Haydock Park on Saturday 23rd November and will be televised live on ITV.