Betfair Chase Preview: Bristol De Mai to see off big guns

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Bristol De Mai – 7-4 bet365 for Betfair Chase

Bristol De Mai – 20-1 Stan James for King George V1 Chase

A small but select field looks guaranteed for Saturday’s Grade 1 Betfair Chase at Haydock Park. Seven horses stood their ground at Monday’s forfeit stage headed by this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Sizing John ( 9-4 with the sponsor ) and Cue Card who will be trying to emulate the great Kauto Star as a four-time winner of the three mile one and a half furlong contest.

Trainer Jessica Harrington is keen to carry out the wishes of the late Alan Potts, owner of Sizing John, who was keen to target the £1 million bonus for any horse completing the treble of Betfair Chase, King George and Gold Cup in the current season. In a recent interview however the Irish handler was in a far from bullish mood regarding the first leg of the ambitious project, claiming that the lack of a recent run plus testing conditions would count against the seven-year-old on his seasonal reappearance.

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The same remarks can not be said of the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Bristol De Mai who is unbeaten in two starts at the Lancashire venue, winning both by an aggregate of 54 lengths, simply thrives on testing ground and goes into Saturday’s race on the back of a gutsy win over stablemate Blaklion in Wetherby’s bet365 Charlie Hall Chase earlier this month. Available at 8-1 prior to that half length victory the grey son of Saddler Maker now heads the betting at a best price 7-4 with bet365 and Coral and looks the one to beat under the six-year-old’s ideal conditions.

Cue Card, winner of the race in 2013, 2015 and 2016, is unlikely to go down without a struggle but the popular gelding is not getting any younger and will turn 12 in less than two months time. The 7-2 chance ( Ladbrokes ) will have a new rider at the weekend with Harry Cobden taking over from Paddy Brennan following the gelding’s failure to complete the course in two of his last three starts.

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While the 7-4 about the selection offers little in the way of value for Saturday’s contest it could be worth taking the 20-1 with Stan James about Bristol De Mai winning the King George on Boxing Day. A defeat at Haydock would rule out Sizing John for the christmas showpiece and if Thistlecrack fails to make the race those odds would look massive come the 26th December.

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