The Betfair Chase – Race Preview

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Saturday sees the annual running of the Betfair Chase at Haydock. The race is the first Grade 1 event of the British National Hunt season and is run over a distance of three miles with 18 fences jumped. A small but select line-up of just five runners are set to compete in this year’s race as they look to join the list of past winners that includes horses such as Kauto Star, who won the race a record four times. The Betfair Chase is the first part of chasing’s new £1 million ‘Triple Crown’, which also includes the King George VI Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Silviniaco Conti has won the race on two occasions, including last year’s renewal and he is the current ante-post favourite to defend his crown. A two length winner last year, Silviniaco Conti then went on to win the King George before finishing mid-division in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He then ended the season on a winning note, by winning the Grade 1 Betfred Bowl at Aintree in April. The Paul Nicholls trained nine-year old warmed up for Saturday’s race with a run over hurdles at Kempton last month where he placed a pleasing second. Set to carry two pounds less than when successful last year, Silviniaco Conti looks set to take all the beating.

Cue Card got back to winning ways at the end of last month when successful in the Grade 2 Charlie Hall chase at Wetherby, his first victory since winning the Betfair Chase in 2013. Campaigned highly last season, featuring in a number of Grade 1 events, Cue Card failed to get his head in front, finishing behind Silviniaco Conti in both the Betfair Chase and the King George. Set to run off a mark of 167 on Saturday, it is hard to see Cue Card having the necessary improvement to trouble Silviniaco Conti.

The David Pipe trained Dynaste finished second to Cue Card in the Charlie Hall chase and now meets him on better terms. Winner of the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2013, Dynaste failed to win last season but did put in placed efforts in the Betfair Chase, the King George and the Betbright Cup, before missing the Cheltenham Festival due to injury. With Saturday’s race set to be run on soft ground, Dynaste will have no issues with the conditions and could give  Silvinianco Conti the most to do. Pipe is also represented by Ballynagour who only has three minor victories over fences and looks to lack the class to win a race such as the Betfair Chase.

The final runner is set to be the Jonjo O’Neill trained Holywell who, after winning the Mildmay Novices at the Cheltenham Festival in 2014, has failed to live up to his potential.

Silviniaco Conti is the current 1.90 (10/11) ante-post favourite with Cue Card 4 (3/1), Dynaste 9 (8/1), Ballynagour 11 (10/1), & Holywell 21 (20/1). The horse racing tip for Saturday’s Betfair Chase is Dynaste each way at 9 (8/1).

By: Scott McGlynn