Charlie McCann with the best bets for a busy Saturday’s racing
Today’s Betfair Chase at Haydock is the first leg of the Chase Triple Crown with a £1m on offer for connections if today’s winner goes on to land the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day and Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.
The race looks a fascinating, albeit slightly substandard, renewal of the Grade 1 contest and it might be worth pointing out that the race will be run over an additional furlong than has been the case in previous renewals.
Bristol De Mai (11/8 favourite at BetVictor) is unbeaten in two starts at Haydock and won the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on his reappearance, but his stamina for this near three-and-a-quarter mile trip has to be taken on trust and preference is for the evergreen Cue Card (3.00) a three-time winner of the race.
Cue Card (3.00) fell five out when still going well enough in the Charlie Hall and connections have jocked off Paddy Brennan in favour of young Harry Cobden for today’s test. Cue Card (7/4 with BetVictor) broke the heart of Coneygree in this corresponding race 12 months ago and he is likely to track Bristol De Mai for much of the race before, hopefully, pouncing fast and late. Recent Irish Grade 1 winner Outlander and Tea For Two, who beat the selection a neck at Aintree back in the spring are others to consider.
The handicapper has given Emperor’s Choice a chance in the staying chase a race Venetia William’s 10-year-old won two years ago from an 8lbs higher mark and I suggest we take note of whether the market speaks in his favour.
The vote, however, goes to the progressive Courtown Oscar (12.40) who has been raised 5lbs for scoring at Carlisle on his reappearance over 3m 4f. Trainer Phil Kirby suggested his 8-year-old would take in all the big staying chasers this term and if that is the case, he must go close from his current mark.
The Graduation Chase is a cracker with Born Survivor (1.15) getting a narrow vote for Dan Skelton. The selection receives weight from a number of the principles and he made a fluent start to his chasing career when scoring at Wetherby over the minimum trip earlier in the month. This step up in trip is no concern and he can take a most informative race.
The valuable stayers’ Handicap Hurdle is another top class contest with The World’s End and Minella wards much respected, but David Pipe has his string in top form, has a good record in this corresponding race and his Champers On Ice (2.25) gets the vote in his first-time blinkers.
The selection (13/2 at BetVictor) finished third in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham back in 2016 and is back over timber this afternoon for this valuable prize, having lost his way somewhat over the larger obstacles last season.
The finale is another competitive handicap and Henri Parry Morgan (3.35) has been raised 3lbs since finishing runner up over an inadequate trip (2m 4f) on his reappearance. The selection (5/1 at BetVictor) has often promised to win a big prize and this looks a very good opportunity.
Jonjo O’Neill had a welcome winner at Ffos Las yesterday and the hope is that the floodgates will open for the yard. Palmers Hill (12.20 Ascot) was an impressive winner at Uttoxeter over the minimum trip last month and is taken to maintain his unbeaten record for the yard stepped up in class and distance. Barry Geraghty takes over in the saddle in what looks a very good novice hurdle.
The Ascot Hurdle sees the reappearance of Triumph Hurdle winner Defi Du Seuil who won all nine starts over hurdles last term for Philip Hobbs and receives 3lbs from L’Ami Serge but has yet to race beyond the minimum trip and all his wins were gained racing left-handed last term. He might improve for both but at 4/5 with BetVictor he is overlooked in favour of L’Ami Serge (2.40) who will have the race run to suit with Lil Rockerfella a confirmed front-runner. The Nicky Henderson-trained runner gets the vote at 10/3.
San Benedeto (3.15) ran a terrific race at Exeter behind stablemate Politilogue last time and is taken to go one better with the excellent Brony Frost looking for a high-profile Saturday treble for Paul Nicholls.
Silver Kayf (12.00) can take the opener at Huntingdon for Kim Bailey with the combination of better ground and a slight drop in trip considered the key.
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