Cue Card has form in the book to triumph in Betfair Chase
A top-class field looks set to line up in the Grade 1 Betfair Chase, with six of the eight runners at Haydock priced-up for the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Two previous Cheltenham Gold Cup victors and last year’s winner of this race clash in the north west and the betting reflects the competitive nature of this renewal.
Nicky Henderson’s 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth leads the market at 2/1 on his seasonal reappearance under regular jockey Barry Geraghty.
The eight-year-old won Prestbury Park’s main event last March despite only managing one outing prior to the Cheltenham Festival and has to be given massive respect over distance he is perfectly comfortable running, with conditions expected to suit.
Last year’s winner Silviniaco Conti is next in the betting at 5/2 for trainer Paul Nicholls, with in-form county Cork man Noel Fehily taking over the mount from Ruby Walsh.
The seven-year-old was chasing a fifth win on the spin before falling in the Cheltenham Gold Cup under Walsh eight months ago and Nicholls is confident his gelding will return to form on soft ground.
David Pipe-trained grey Dynaste missed the Paddy Power Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Open meeting – for which he was favourite at one stage – to compete against the big boys here and is 7/1 to register a win for the fifth time in six runs.
However, the pick for this race at a decent price is Colin Tizzard’s stable-star Cue Card, with the seven-year-old also available at 7/1 with Coral.
Tizzard’s top inmate – who will be steered by the trainer’s son Joe – finished a disappointing third out of six when 11/10 jolly on his seasonal debut at Exeter, six and a half lengths behind winner Somersby.
Favourite backers got their fingers burnt on that occasion, but Cue Card was dropping back in trip significantly and gave masses of weight all round in the south west.
His form when winning last year’s Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival – in conditions similar to what is expected at Haydock – puts him bang in contention for this race.
Cue Card made all to beat Mouse Morris’ First Lieutenant by a whopping ten lengths in the Cotswolds, with the second-placed horse going on to outrun Silviniaco Conti into third a month later in the Betfred Bowl at Aintree.
Tizzard’s mount showed great heart when chasing home Henderson superstar Sprinter Sacre at the Grand National meeting – finishing just four lengths behind the Queen Mother Champion Chase winner in second – and is the pick at tasty 7/1 odds to shock his more illustrious rivals here.
Henderson’s 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Long Run is also set to line up in this race and can be backed at 12/1 under Sam Waley-Cohen.
The eight-year-old has disappointed in his three runs since a second King George triumph at Kempton last December and after labouring to fifth on his seasonal reappearance at Wetherby, he is best watched here.