A top-notch jumping card from Haydock lights up the racing action this coming Saturday, with the feature event seeing a field of the best 3m chasers in the business locking horns.
Acting as leg one of what has come to be known as chasing’s Triple Crown, the Betfair Chase has been won by some of the very best in the business over the years, including three-time champ, Cue Card. Any horse who follows up a win here with victory in both the King George and Cheltenham Gold Cup will be in line for a whopping £1million bonus, making this an understandably highly-prized contest.
We are likely to be hearing plenty more from a good few of these in the top staying chases as the season goes on in a race that rarely disappoints.
Next Race: TBD
The next renewal of this race has not been scheduled yet. We will update this once the schedule has been released for next season. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
Last Run: 23rd November 2019
- Winner: Lostintranslation
- SP: 5/4
- Trainer: Colin Tizzard
- Jockey: Robbie Power
3m1½f is the trip for this top class Grade 1 Chase which offers £200,000 in guaranteed prize money. The ground at the track is currently described as good to soft, but with a fair amount of rain in the area, this may deteriorate, so the weather is well worth watching.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Good To Soft||3m1½f||Grade 1||£200,000||4 Runners||Win Only|
Betfair Chase Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from the last running of the race. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
This is one of the newer events of its type on the racing calendar, having only been with us since 2005, but thanks in no small part to its inclusion in the £1million bonus scheme on offer for winning the “Chasing Triple Crown” of this race, the King George and the Cheltenham Cup, it has quickly established itself as one of the top early season events.
It has also been particularly prone to a repeat winner in its early years, with the first 14 editions of the race being shared between just seven horses. Will we see the two-time defending champion land more repeat glory or can an outsider etch their name into the history books?
Paul Nicholls has been the dominant force on the training front, with the multiple Champion Trainer already boasting six wins to his name. Fellow Englishmen, Colin Tizzard and Nigel-Twiston Davies, boast a fair record too though, with three wins apiece over the relatively short lifespan of the race.
This has been only a fair race for favourite backers over the past 10 years. A strike-rate of 40% for the jolly over this period is healthy enough, but with the winning favourites all returning a fairly short SP, a loss of 1.45 units would still have been recorded.
BRISTOL DE MAI – EVS
Not all horses handle Haydock, particularly when the ground turns on the soft side, and as such a previous win at the track can be worth its weight in gold. One runner who scores top marks in that regard is the aforementioned Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained eight year old, Bristol De Mai.
Not only has this son of Saddler Maker won all four previous starts at the Merseyside venue, the two most recent of those wins came in this very race in 2017 and 2018. Should he come home in front once again this year, he will join greats Cue Card and Kauto Star as a three-time winner of the race (four in Kauto Star’s case), and become the first to land the prize in three consecutive years.
A winner on ground ranging from heavy to good, Bristol De Mai shouldn’t be too inconvenienced whatever the prevailing conditions are on the day, but does seem particularly effective when the mud is flying. Three from four on heavy over the course of his career, one of those three wins came when streaking clear in this event in 2017, to win by a record setting 57-lengths. Yet to be sighted at the track this season, his fitness has to be taken on trust to a certain extent, but his yard do seem in fair form, and he did win this first time out last term.
LOSTINTRANSLATION – 6/4
If there is a new kid on the staying chase scene this season, who is ready to challenge for all of the top honours, then that horse may well be the Colin Tizzard runner, Lostintranslation. Long held in the highest regard by his astute trainer, this one spent much of last season butting heads with the excellent Defi Du Seuil at around 2m4f – including when second to that Philip Hobbs-trained runner in the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
It was long felt that this son of Flemensfirth would ultimately only be seen to best effect over further though, and that certainly looked to be the case when he hosed up in the Grade 1 Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree. Six lengths too good for RSA Chase winner Topofthegame that day, he went into many people’s notebook as a potential future Gold Cup winner.
Detractors will point to the fact that Lostintranslation was beaten by a whopping 35-lengths on his only previous visit to Haydock, but that effort came almost two years ago now, and he simply looks a different horse these days. With the benefit of a recent comeback win at Carlisle under his belt, and fully effective on the likely range of going, he can’t be dismissed.
FRODON – 11/2
If this race were to be decided in terms of pure popularity of the runners (and riders), then the most likely winner would surely be the Paul Nicholls-trained pocket rocket, Frodon. The exploits of this one and his jockey Bryony Frost have warmed the hearts of the public on more than one occasion already – never more so than when he landed a first career Grade 1 in the Ryanair Chase at last season’s Cheltenham Festival. That effort showed he belongs in this type of company and stamped his ticket for all the big staying events, starting here.
A current mark of 169 actually sees the seven year old as comfortably the second best horse in the field – only 1lb behind Bristol De Mai – and such has been his rate of progression, that we may not have seen the best of him yet. A winner on his only previous start at the track, and over this 3m1½f trip, it may prove unwise to underestimate this tough and talented performer. At much longer odds than the favourite he may well be the value pick.
BALLYOPTIC – 14/1
Rounding out the field is the second of the Nigel Twiston-Davies runners, Ballyoptic. Rated 11lbs inferior to stablemate Bristol De Mai, this nine year old has work to do according to the ratings, but does head into the contest in just about the best form of his career.
Having failed to even complete the course in three of his final four starts last season, Ballyoptic has been outstanding in two outings so far in the current campaign; firstly when slamming Lil Rockerfeller by nine-lengths in a handicap, and latterly when staying on best of all in the Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby. This demands more again, but he was a Grade 1 winner in his Novice Hurdle days and it still isn’t too late for him to scale those heights as a chaser.
Betfair Chase Winners
|2019||Lostintranslation||5/4||Colin Tizzard||Robbie Power|
|2018||Bristol De Mai||13/2||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Daryl Jacob|
|2017||Bristol De Mai||11/10||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Daryl Jacob|
|2016||Cue Card||15/8||Colin Tizzard||Paddy Brennan|
|2015||Cue Card||7/4||Colin Tizzard||Paddy Brennan|
|2014||Silviniaco Conti||10/3||Paul Nicholls||Noel Fehily|
|2013||Cue Card||9/1||Colin Tizzard||Joe Tizzard|
|2012||Silviniaco Conti||7/4||Paul Nicholls||Ruby Walsh|
|2011||Kauto Star||6/1||Paul Nicholls||Rubt Walsh|
|2010||Imperial Commander||10/11||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Paddy Brennan|
Although registered as the Lancashire Chase, you are far more likely to know this race by its sponsored title, the Betfair Chase. It initially served as the first leg of a lucrative bonus scheme called the Betfair Million which Cheltenham hero Kauto Star was the first horse to claim. The online betting company withdrew the jackpot five years later but this race nevertheless remains a huge contest in its own right. It also has the honour of being the opening Grade 1 event of the National Hunt season, making it a big day on the calendar of many racing fans who love their racing action over obstacles.
It’s an extra special race for Haydock Park too as this three mile, one and a half furlong contest is the sole Grade 1 event to feature on the calendar of the Merseyside course. It’s not always been run over this distance but in 2017 organisers increased the trip to allow a longer run before the first bend. The extra furlong and a half means an extra fence needs to be jumped too, putting the new total at 19 and making this a really gruelling contest.
THE BETFAIR MILLION JACKPOT RETURNS
The Betfair Million initially worked by giving £1m to the connections of any horse that won this race as well as the King George VI and Cheltenham Gold Cup. The Lexus Chase was later added as an alternative second leg but shortly after the scheme changed again. The new set-up saw the £1m offered to any top three Betfair Chase finishers who also managed a top two result at the Cheltenham Festival and a Grand National win. Having perhaps set the bar too high, Betfair pulled the huge bonus but the Jockey Club resurrected it in 2015.
Today the bonus is awarded to any horse that can claim the Chase Triple Crown, formed of the three races that initially served as part of the Betfair Million. As of yet, no horse has claimed the jackpot but Cue Card came close during the 2015-16 season. After winning this race and the King George, Colin Tizzard’s horse found himself as the Gold Cup second favourite but fell three fences out.
CHASE TRIPLE CROWN ATTEMPTS: 2010 – 2018
|Year||Betfair Chase Winner||King George VI Finish||Cheltenham Gold Cup Finish|
|2018||Bristol De Mai||Fell||Third|
|2017||Bristol De Mai||Sixth||Didn’t run|
|2013||Cue Card||Second||Didn’t run|
|2012||Silviniaco Conti||Didn’t run||Fell|
|2011||Kauto Star||First||Pulled Up|
|2010||Imperial Commander||Didn’t run||Pulled Up|
Are we likely to see another horse come even closer soon? Results over recent years suggest it could be a while and it is clearly a huge ask to win three such high class events. One thing that makes the hat-trick achievable is the spacing of the events. With this race scheduled to take place in November, the King George of course in its Boxing Day slot and the Gold Cup in mid-March, there is at least sufficient rest for the horses. Of course, looking at the other side of the coin, it also means that any horse landing the huge bonus will have to be in top form for virtually the entire season.
WINNERS COME BACK FOR MORE
One slightly unusual feature of the Betfair Chase is its lack of unique winners. The race began in 2005 but only eight different names feature among the list of winners.
BETFAIR CHASE WINNERS: 2005 – 2019
|Kauto Star||Paul Nicholls||4||2011, 2009, 2007, 2006|
|Cue Card||Colin Tizzard||3||2016, 2015, 2013|
|Bristol De Mai||Nigel Twiston-Davies||2||2018, 2017|
|Silviniaco Conti||Paul Nicholls||2||2014, 2012|
|Imperial Commander||Nigel Twiston-Davies||1||2010|
|Snoop Loopy||Peter Bowen||1||2008|
Four horses have won the race more than once, nobody on more occasions than Kauto Star, a repeat winner of many of chasing’s biggest prizes. His debut victory was an absolute demolition job too as he raced 17 lengths clear of second place Beef Or Salmon. Four out of five times Paul Nicholls’ horse won here in total, the only blot on the record coming in 2008 when he made a bad mistake at the last to unseat jockey Sam Thomas.
It was the only time in Kauto Star’s career that he unseated the rider and gasps echoed around Haydock Park as it happened. The mistake paved the way for Snoopy Loopy to claim a dramatic (and at 33/1 very much against the odds) victory as you can see for yourself here:
FENCES COME UNDER SCRUTINY
Since the inception of this race, there have been a few unseated jockeys but not a single faller. Haydock was once known for having some of the toughest obstacles around but this changed following the introduction of portable fences in 2007. From this point, the Merseyside course offered little in the way of a jumping challenge but 11 years later they reclaimed their former reputation. The 2018 Betfair Chase was steeped in controversy as a result with Nico De Boinville, who rode Might Bite, branding the obstacles unfair and “too stiff”.
It later came to the attention of the public that prior to the race, BHA course inspector Chris Dennis, asked Haydock to reduce the height and stiffness of the fences. Work had been carried out to address his concerns but Dennis believed that the fences were “still quite high and on the stiff side.” Not willing to bow too much to mounting pressure, Haydock course clerk Kirkland Tellwright said that they would make the fences “a shade lower and not as deep”. With no drastic changes planned, future renewals of the Betfair Chase are likely to provide a real test of jumping ability, particularly given this high class affair is usually contested at a fair old pace.