The Betfair Chase would not be the Betfair Chase without Bristol De Mai getting his stunning grey coat covered in mud. He’s now 11 years old but Bristol De Mai is set to give the Grade 1 race one more go on Saturday in what is the feature race of this week’s ITV Racing.
As well as a strong supporting card at Haydock, racing fans have some excellent action from Ascot to enjoy on Saturday where the Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase is the big race of the day. There’s plenty to look forward to and, despite more odds-on favourites than we’re used to, there are some very good betting opportunities to be unearthed in this week’s Saturday Racing Tips.
1:50 Get Daily Rewards With Betfair Graduation Chase
Class 2, 2m5½f
Hitman is all the rage in the betting for the first race of the day. You’ll have to shop around to find anything better than 1/2 about the Paul Nicholls-trained six year old. That is despite Hitman being beaten in his first appearance of the season when he just wasn’t strong enough to get hold off Riders Onthe Storm.
Although he couldn’t get his season off to a winning start, Hitman should have plenty of success in the months ahead. He had a second breathing operation over the summer and hopes are high that will allow him to see out his races stronger than ever. Horses tend to only get a feeling for what they are capable of in their second race after wind surgery and if that holds true for Hitman he’ll justify his billing as the favourite.
2:05 Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase
Grade 2, 2m5f
Much like the first live ITV race at Haydock, the first broadcast race at Ascot features a short price favourite. L’Homme Presse makes his much anticipated first start in open chasing company when he takes on just four rivals in the Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase.
The market is very much willing to forgive L’Homme Presse for his poor run at the end of last season. He looked a very tired horse when trying to add another top-level novice win to his CV in the Mildmay Chase at Aintree and that run is very much one to forget. At his best, L’Homme Presse is a Grade 1 performer and he should have little trouble kicking off his season with Grade 2 success.
2:25 Betfair Exchange Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle
Premier Handicap, 3m½f
The start of a new season is a chance for horses who didn’t quite get things right to start afresh. Things started well enough for Brinkley last season before his form fell away somewhat so David Pipe knows he has a job on his hands to coax the best out of his seven year old.
At odds of 12/1, the market is not confident about Brinkley’s chances of turning things around but there are reasons to think that price is a generous one. For one, Brinkley has a decent record when running fresh. Moreover, Pipe has won a third of all the three-mile hurdle races in which he’s had runners at Haydock. Binkley is a better horse than his official rating of 138 suggests and he can take advantage of his 11st 5lb weight by claiming at least a place.
2:40 Coral Hurdle
Grade 2, 2m3½f
It is no surprise whatsoever to see that Goshen’s career as a chaser was short-lived. He never looked even close to being comfortable over fences at Ascot last time out and he returns to Berkshire to tackle the smaller obstacles. In truth, Goshen’s jumping has never been rock solid even over hurdles and backing him at 15/2 for the Coral Hurdle would be a heart-over-head move.
The same could not be said over backing Constitution Hill although at 1/5 he isn’t exactly a great investment. This is more of a test to see how well Constitution Hill goes before the bigger challenges ahead, namely the Champion Hurdle in March. Conditions should be perfect and Nicky Henderson will ensure that Constitution Hill is race fit so he looks another shorty who will go in.
3:00 Betfair Chase
Grade 1, 3m1½f
Few people were happier to see the heavy rain over the last week than Nigel Twiston-Davies. He knows that the heavier the ground the better the chance that Bristol De Mai has of winning the Betfair Chase. Two of his three wins in this race came on heavy ground and the 11 year old will relish a mud bath at Haydock on Saturday. The problem is, he is once again tasked with getting the better of A Plus Tard.
When the dream team of Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore turned up at Haydock last year they believed that A Plus Tard was a top-class staying chaser. They arrive knowing it beyond any doubt after he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March. The market knows that as well and the best odds you’ll get on A Plus Tard is 8/13. At the odds, many punters will be happy to take a risk on Bristol De Mai at 15/2 or Protektorat at 3/1 but A Plus Tard is going to take all the beating.
3:15 Jim Barry Wines Hurst Park Handicap Chase
Class 2, 2m5½f
Edwardstone is no stranger to carrying top weight in a competitive handicap. He has done so before and is certain to give his running in the Jim Barry Wines Hurst Park Handicap Chase. Surely, though, carrying 12st with the second top weight carrying 11st4lb will be too big an ask and he is too short at 11/4 to be appealing.
Third Time Lucki is of much more interest at odds of 10/1. Dan Skelton’s seven year old is more used to competing in Graded company and his official rating of 151 reflects that. There could be wiggle room in that rating though and he can wear down Edwardstone while outclassing the rest of the competition.
3:35 Best Odds On the Betfair Exchange Handicap Chase
Class 2, 2m5½f
It remains to be seen how much of the heavy rain that’s forecast to hit the North East makes its way over to Merseyside. The one thing we can be sure of is that it is going to be soft at Haydock and that horses such as Lord Du Mesnil will enjoy themselves in the ground.
The Richard Hobson trained nine year old outran his odds quite considerably on his return to action after the summer break when he came second at 33/1 on heavy ground at Bangor. He should strip even fitter for that run and is proven at Haydock with wins in half of his three starts there. You won’t get anything like the price at Bangor out but there is plenty to like about the odds of 5/1 that are still available.