Saturday’s Betfair Chase at Haydock Park looks set to prove one of the highlights of the current national hunt season. Course specialist Bristol De Mai attempts to win the Grade 1 contest for a record-equalling fourth time, joining the great Kauto Star who was victorious in 2006/07/09/11.
The popular grey faces a severe test on this occasion however, in particular from Irish challenger A Plus Tard. With that in mind we will look elsewhere for today’s Horse Racing tips, previews and predictions, namely Haydock’s extended 3m Betfair Exchange Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle at 2.25pm and three mile one and a half furlong My Odds Boost On Betfair Handicap Chase, the final race on the card at 3.35pm. While over at Ascot our Horse Racing tips runs in the 2m 1f handicap chase at 3.15pm.
Our Tip for the 2.25pm at Haydock:
Top weight If The Cap Fits sets the standard in this extended 3m handicap hurdle and it would be no surprise to see Harry Fry’s talented performer run a big race along with last month’s Chepstow Silver Trophy winner Orbys Legend.
This valuable contest may be fought out by contenders towards the bottom of the weights however, in particular Riggs, Rightplacerightime and Bass Rock. Riggs comes from the in-form stable of Dan Skelton, and like last weekend’s Greatwood Hurdle winner West Lake, may well be one step ahead of the handicapper at the moment.
Irish challenger Rightplacerightime is harder to assess, having been competing over fences (won at Fairyhouse last time) since joining shrewd trainer Emmet Mullins from Kevin O’Donnell back in August. The gelding’s hurdles mark of 125 looks very tempting however and it would be no surprise to see yet another big pot head across the Irish sea.
The selection however is Bass Rock from the Scottish stable of Sandy Thomson. The five-year-old has made gradual progress over timber, ending last season with a victory at Ayr’s Scottish Grand National meeting.
Making his reappearance at Carlisle last month, Ryan Mania’s mount could not have been more impressive in dismissing a couple of decent yardsticks in Teescomponents Lad and Tommy’s Oscar with the minimum of fuss. While this is a big step up in class for the son of Martaline, time may show his current mark of 130 to be on the lenient side.
Our Tip for the 3.15pm at Ascot:
The Sam Thomas-trained Before Midnight is likely to be all the race for this 2m 1f handicap chase following the gelding’s impressive all-the-way victory at Cheltenham last month.
The mount of Sam Twiston-Davies has been raised 8lb by the handicapper however and the son of Midnight Legend may struggle to confirm that form with the runner-up on that occasion, Sky Pirate, on these revised terms.
The Jonjo O’Neill-trained eight-year-old, another son of sire Midnight Legend, made great strides last season, from an opening mark of 132 ending his campaign with a victory in the Grand Annual at the Cheltenham Festival, earning a rating of 159.
Nick Scholfield’s mount is more than capable of making his mark in Graded company in the months ahead and with that Cheltenham run behind him is value to overturn that form with the expected favourite. Sully D’Oc AA and bottom weight Monsieur Lecoq are the other two to consider.
Our Tip for the 3.35pm at Haydock:
Strictlyadancer, from the Christian Williams stable, has been in great form over the last few weeks, winning two races at Cheltenham, the most recent when taking an amateur jockeys’ handicap chase last weekend.
Off bottom weight here and with talented 3lb claimer Jack Tudor in the saddle, the seven-year-old has every chance of landing a hat-trick of vistories. That is sure to be reflected in the gelding’s price however and at much bigger odds it could pay to take a chance on the Sue Smith-trained Joke Dancer.
Fresh from last weekend’s Paddy Power Gold Cup success with Midnight Shadow, the stable is going well at the moment and in Joke Dancer they have a horse more than capable of winning a race of this nature off his current mark of 134.
The mount of Sean Quinlan won off the same rating at Wetherby 12 months ago and almost certainly needed his first run of this season when sent off at odds of 40/1 at Wetherby three weeks ago.
Not disgraced in finishing fifth behind winner Good Boy Bobby (Paddy Power Gold Cup fifth Galahad Quest was back in third), Joke Dancer should prove much fitter here and is worth trying over this longer trip for the first time.
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