Betfair Chase 2016 Preview
The National Hunt Season is in full swing. Each weekend from here on in a juddering, clattering rail road ride to the showpiece Christmas festivals. The Hennessey Gold Cup: a test for the bravest and most resolute followed just days later by the kinetic energy burst of the Tingle Creek at Sandown, it is a time of year for racing fans to savour.
The first Group 1 three mile steeplechase of the season, the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park, attracts the finest staying chasers in the UK and this year is no exception. Now part of a National Hunt “triple crown” there is a 1 million pound bonus to connections of any horse who completes the feat of winning this, the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day and the Gold Cup come the Festival in March.
Previous dual winners of the race, Cue Card and Silviniaco Conti, both reoppose. Now both 10 years of age this pair of doughty warriors posted moderate efforts on seasonal reappearance. Cue Card is the 15/8F whilst Conti is 7/1 in most places.
Coneygree, Gold Cup hero of 2015, who won admirers with agressive front running style and efficient, deadly accurate jumping makes his return to the track after a year on the sidelines. He is a supremely talented, yet fragile horse and it remains to be seen if injury has left its mark. A general 2-1 shot, there is not much room for manoevre to find out. Representing last season’s novices Seeyouatmidnight may prefer a stiffer test than the flat three miles around Haydock where tactical speed can be decisive.
The Rebecca Curtis string performed less well than expected last season. This season has seen an upturn in fortunes with a strike rate of 23% attesting to a stable in form. Irish Cavalier’s win at Weatherby in the Charlie Hall Chase had Menorah and Cue Card in behind, further improvement is likely for the 7 year old and the generally available 10-1 could represent value.
The wonderfully rogueish Menorah retains ability and cannot be written off, should he deign to give his running.