IT HAS already been labelled a “mini Gold Cup”. And with some justification. This year’s Betfair Chase has attracted a field of supreme quality including the reigning Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth, last year’s victor Silviniaco Conti and the young pretender Dynaste. Throw in middle distance specialist Cue Card, The Giant Bolster, former Gold Cup winner Long Run and quirky but brilliant Tidal Bay and you have virtual perfection. From the main protagonists of racing’s blue riband back in March, only Sir Des Champs is missing.
The race is normally run on very testing November ground. Remember Kauto Star’s mud-spattered duel with Imperial Commander, or the way Silviniaco Conti cut through the soft ground to win last year? However, this year could be a rarity as there is the real chance of decent ground. It is currently soft (good to soft in places) at Haydock and there is no more rain forecast before Saturday. The emphasis could well be on speed as well as stamina and there could be some value lurking among the supposed outsiders. (Hopefully the threat of an overnight frost will dissipate).
Bobs Worth is 2/1 on his seasonal reappearance and while it might be folly to oppose him, it isn’t great value. Like Silviniaco Conti , he would also prefer it softer. So I’m going to take a chance on CUE CARD to have another day in the sun. He didn’t look fit in the Haldon Gold Cup and that run would have brought him on a bundle. He should get the trip on the better ground and 7/1 looks good value. I expect Dynaste will also race handily and the two of them should be able to dictate the pace. The race will not be the stamina test that it normally is and this should enable Cue Card to use his speed and jumping ability.
The Giant Bolster, who ran well in this last year, could also run a huge race on ground he will find much more favourable, while it would be no big surprise to witness a better effort from Long Run than the one he produced in the Charlie Hall when he scoped badly after the race. The only one I haven’t mentioned yet is Roi Du Mee, who looked much improved last time out but could be more of a Grand National contender.