The Betfair Chase is the first leg of the newly branded Chase Triple Crown, which offers a £1 million bonus to any horse that can win this race, the King George VI Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the same season (3pm Saturday at Haydock on CH4).
Disappointingly, none of the major contenders for the Cheltenham Gold Cup are in the field and just five runners are set to compete for £200,000 in guaranteed prize money. But as our Betfair Chase preview will demonstrate, this horse race is still an interesting conundrum where even the outsiders have form claims.
Silviniaco Conti (5/6) has won two of the last three renewals of the Betfair Chase. This time last year he drew away in the final half furlong to beat Menorah by 2 lengths, with Dynaste 8 lengths behind in third and Cue Card a further 2 lengths back in fourth last November.
Paul Nicholls’ nine-year-old also jumped soundly when beating Ballynagour by a head in the Betfred Bowl Chase at Aintree last April, with Holywell, trained by Jonjo O’Neill (pictured), 2¼ behind in third place. The Dom Alco gelding made a satisfactory, if unspectacular, return to action over hurdles at Wetherby and, with the benefit of that run, is probably a worthy favourite.
However, despite officially having 9lb in hand of Ballynagour (10/1), Silviniaco Conti was arguably a little fortunate to beat him at Aintree and it wouldn’t be a total shock if David Pipe’s charge reversed the form.
The Shantou gelding was still going well when falling four from home in the Punchestown Gold Cup three weeks later and made a respectable seasonal debut behind Cue Card and Dynaste in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby three weeks ago. The latter form clearly leaves him with a few pounds to find but, even so, Ballynagour makes some appeal at double-figure odds in a field of five. Despite being the value option, we will resist making him our Betfair Chase betting tip.
Cue Card (3/1) won the Betfair Chase two seasons ago, but could finish only fourth of nine beaten 12 lengths behind Silviniaco Conti last year. Nevertheless, trainer Colin Tizzard’s nine-year-old looked as good as ever when beating Dynaste by 3¾ lengths in the Charlie Hall Chase and, although officially rated 5lb inferior to Silviniaco Conti, merits maximum respect.
Considering he finished fourth of 16, beaten 9¼ lengths, behind Coneygree in last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, Holywell (20/1) is available at very generous odds. The son of Gold Well was only beaten 2½ lengths by Silviniaco Conti in the Betfred Bowl Chase at Aintree last April, but was readily outpaced in the Charlie Hall Chase and, on balance, is likely to be found wanting once again.
Betfair Chase Preview’s Betting Tips Verdict
Silviniaco Conti and a revitalised Cue Card, who have won the last three renewals between them, appear the two on which to concentrate. The latter travelled strongly and jumped superbly when winning the Charlie Hall Chase and on that recent evidence looks a decent bet to continue his revival. Our Betfair Chase preview’s betting tips advice is to back CUE CARD to win at current best odds of 3/1 with Paddy Power.