Heavy ground means only 5 runners are set to go to post for the Betfair Chase (Saturday 3pm), yet it’s still an intriguing contest. There have only even been 10 runnings of the race, with trainer Paul Nicholls dominating it with 6 wins, 4 for Kauto Star and 2 for the now hat-trick seeking Siviniaco Conti. Neither youth or old-age have proved any barrier so far with two 6-year-olds, two 7-year-olds, two 8-year-olds, two 9-year-olds, one 10-year-old, and one 11-year-old winning. Noel Fehily again rides Silviniaco Conti as he did last year, whilst the only other previous winning jockey riding is Paddy Brennan who rides 2013 winner Cue Card in a bid to follow-up their recent winning partnership in the Charlie Hall Chase.
The big question on everyone’s lips is can Silviniaco Conti win again – so let’s take a look at the 5 runners.
The dual Betfair Chase winner needs little introduction in his hat-trick bid, and the heavy conditions should make this more of a test of stamina than speed. Won the race in 2012 and 2014, and Paul Nicholls says it was his fault he didn’t win in 2013 as he hadn’t given him a prep-run, which he did this year at Kempton last month. Has also defeated his main three rivals in one race or another in the past, though Cue Card did beat him here in 2013.
Always had the potential to be top-class, and looked it here in 2013 when beating Dynaste and Siviniaco Conti. Looked sure to beat Siviniaco Conti again in that year’s King George until something went amiss near the finish, but then looked a shadow of his former self after returning from injury. However he appeared back to near his best when beating Dynaste and Ballynagour in this year’s Charlie Hall, and one or two form-lines suggest he deserves to be closer in the betting to the favourite.
Tends to travel well in his races, but doesn’t find enough to beat slightly better opposition. Finished similar distances behind the two principals in a few races, and hard to see him winning unless both have a bad day.
Convinced he could win a big-race if everything goes to plan, and got to within a head of Silviniaco Conti in last year’s Betfair bowl at Aintree. Would definitely prefer better ground though, and Tom Scudamore prefers Dynaste.
Might well finish in front of all of these in the Gold Cup in March, but Autumn and soft ground have never been to his liking.
Silviniaco Conti has an obvious chance but, in what looks a 2 horse race if him or Cue Card run to their best form, Cue Card looks the better value.
Cue Card @ 3/1 (Various)