The National Hunt season is upon us and with it the promise of the first Grade 1 race of the season, the Betfair Chase. This race is run at Haydock each November over a distance of three miles and one furlong. It is open to any horse aged five or over and has been run since 2005. The race was initially sponsored by Betfair as part of a ‘bonus scheme’, in which it took the place of the Lexus Chase. This scheme would allow any horse to win an extra million pounds in prize money if they won all three races. This became known as the Chase Triple Crown and was made up of the Betfair Chase, the King George IV Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Kauto Star was the first horse to achieve this feat in 2006, but it has since been repeated several times. This year there’s one horse in the running for the Chase Triple Crown (who’ll we’ll talk about next) but there are plenty more with their sights firmly set on the Betfair Chase alone.
A Plus Tard
Last year’s winner A Plus Tard is likely to be in the places again this year. The 8-year-old gelding has proved himself a classy horse over the past couple of years particularly and although trainer Henry de Bromhead is insisting on keeping him lightly raced, he seems to perform well fresh. His last win at Cheltenham in the prestigious Gold Cup was a decisive moment in his career. Not only did he beat a great horse in Minella Indo but he absolutely stormed home to win by 15 lengths. It’s rare to see such a dominating performance, especially in such a competitive field, and teaming this with his 22-length win in the Betfair Chase last year, he’s hard to oppose. As such, most betting sites have him priced at around even money to repeat the feat this year. If you’re looking for a long-priced bet then he certainly isn’t it, but with the help of one of the best free bet offers, it’s possible to make those odds look a little more appealing. SBO has collated a list of all of the offers from online bookmakers that new sign-ups can use. Most will offer free or matched bets, meaning that at best you could have a free bet on A Plus Tard and if not free, then you could double your stake.
Bristol De Mai
The next horse that stands a good chance of winning, or if not certainly being in the prize money is Bristol De Mai. This grey gelding has a few more year’s experience than A Plus Tard and with Nigel Twiston-Davies as the trainer, this could make for the perfect combination of experience in both trainer and horse. Bristol de Mai has had huge success in this race in the past, having won it no less than three times in the past, with one of those being a crushing 57-length defeat over Cue Card back in 2017. Since this win, Bristol de Mai has had a few defeats, most notably for anyone looking to bet on this year’s race, his last attempt in which he was pulled up and A Plus Tard raced to victory. Since last year’s race he’s come a respectable 2nd and 3rd, but on his most recent outing he was pulled up. Issues like this are hard to ignore and with Bristol De Mai being pulled up two fences from home, all of the evidence suggests that he might no longer stay this trip. Unfortunately, both the Betway Bowl and the Betfair Chase are the same length, so if endurance is indeed the problem then it may leave A Plus Tard in the clear for a win again.
This Venetia Williams trained horse has proven nothing if not surprising over the last couple of years. At only 7 years old he’s one of the younger horses in the field, but he’s showing the strength of his French breeding already. These horses tend to be big and bold with a good jump on them and enough grit to dig deep in the closing stages; all of these qualities are ones that anyone would want on their side in the Betfair Chase. Whilst he’s got no form at Haydock yet, he’s got impressive Cheltenham form, having won the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase on his last time there against a challenging field, as well as a dominating performance in the Paddy Power Novices’ Chase on New Year’s Day. He romped home and won by ten lengths, leaving The Glancing Queen, a good horse, in the mud. Although he’s not come up against any of our other picks yet, his step up in trip at the end of last season shows that he can manage the distance easily, whilst his Cheltenham wins prove that he’s got more than enough class. It would be a great win for the Venetia Williams stable and at such a relatively young age, it could signal the blossoming of a great career for this plucky gelding.
With prices of around 6-1 and fluctuating little, Waiting Patiently is the next horse in line for the Betfair Chase according to bookmakers. With trainer Christian Williams and jockey Brian Hughes behind him, this experienced gelding certainly has no worries when it comes to people power. Not only that, but he has a great jump on him, one to rival any showjumper, which as we know at Galeon is a seriously testing sport. Over these stiff fences, it’s a certainty that his jumping prowess will prove enormously helpful. However, he’s been pulled up on both of his last runs, including in last year’s running of the race. With that said, this horse does run well fresh and it will have been quite a break for him since his last run at Ascot in the Betfair Ascot Chase. If you’re looking for a potential each way result then Waiting Patiently might be a good move, but whether he’ll be able to take on A Plus Tard remains to be seen.