2019 Betfair Chase tips | An early look at the contenders for Haydock’s Grade One feature

Bristol De Mai is one of a number of classy runners entered in Saturday's Betfair Chase.Bristol De Mai is one of a number of classy runners entered in Saturday's Betfair Chase.

2019 Betfair Chase tips. Brian Healy takes an early look at the contenders for the jumps season’s first Grade One race of the season at Haydock, the Betfair Chase.

2019 Betfair Chase tips – An early look at the contenders for Haydock's Grade One feature Brian Healy takes an early look at the contenders for the jumps season’s first Grade One race of the season at Haydock, the Betfair Chase.

The first leg of the jumping Triple Crown goes to post later this month at Haydock as the latest renewal of the Grade One Betfair Chase takes centre stage on 23 November, and the early list of possible runners paints an mouth-watering picture packed with potential Cheltenham Gold Cup candidates.

Boasting a first prize north of £110,000, the extended 3m 1f contest could see as many as eleven top-class performers head to post, including hat-trick seeking Bristol De Mai who has won the last two renewals of this formidable contest which represents the first Grade One contest of the new UK Jumps season.

Other notable past winners include four-time winner Kauto Star, and triple-winner Cue Card as well as dual-champion Silviniaco Conti and former Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander so the race boasts a very rich pedigree and may well feature the next Gold Cup winner.

Brian Healy looks at the early field of entrants for the fantastic Grade One contest and gives his runner-by-runner thoughts and big race tip for the first stage of the jumping Triple Crown which carries a £1million bonus should any horse win this race and add the King George VI Chase and Cheltenham Gold Cup to their CV this season.

2019 Betfair Chase – 3.00pm Haydock, Saturday 23 November

Defending champion Bristol De Mai (7/4, Coral) will be of interest to many having won this race not only last year, but also the preceding year and Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge has a real affinity with the Merseyside track where he is unbeaten in four outings at this venue.

The bold-jumping grey saw his Triple Crown challenge evaporate in Kempton’s King George VI Chase when falling, but he bounced back with a very creditable third behind Al Boum Photo in the Gold Cup, and the race possibly just came too soon at Aintree in the Betway Bowl where he finished fourth of six runners and beaten around ten lengths behind Kemboy.

With a good record fresh and proven versatility on a range of underfoot conditions, his record at Haydock makes him of real interest and he looks sure to make a bold bid in defence of his crown.

Bristol De Mai bids for a hattrick of wins in the Betfair Chase

Bristol De Mai bids for a hattrick of wins in the Betfair Chase

Ballyoptic (12/1, Paddy Power) saw off Elegant Escape to win the recent Charlie Hall Chase, and the Old Vic gelding has really got his act together over fences and gives Nigel Twiston- Davies a powerful second string in addition to defending champion Bristol De Mai.

The nine-year old hasn’t always convinced with his chasing technique, but he has taken some notable scalps when his jumping has held up including Elegant Escape and Vintage Clouds, and he was unlucky not to win the 2018 Scottish Grand National when denied by a nose by Joe Farrell where he was giving the winner a stone in weight.

Things didn’t go to plan last term, and he completed the course just one from four runs last term, when finishing sixth in the Welsh Grand National; but he is 2-2 this campaign, beating Lil Rockerfeller at Chepstow, and then taking Grade Two honours at Wetherby latest.

Versatile with regards to ground, it remains to be seen whether he’s quite good enough to mix it at Grade One level; but guaranteed to stay the trip, his chances would be enhanced by softer ground and if the conditions were to turn up testing then he has to be respected despite probably having to find more on balance to get competitive.

Perhaps the most interesting entrant for this race is reigning Champion Chase winner Altior (9/1, Bet365) who is unbeaten over obstacles but would be taking a massive step up in trip if Nicky Henderson elects to throw his superstar chaser into a potentially white-hot renewal of this contest.

The High Chaparral gelding has carried all before him over two miles in recent seasons where his unbeaten record was extended to 19 wins with success in the Celebration Chase at Sandown back in April.

However, while he has continued to beat everything put in front of him thus far, there has been a suggestion that he might benefit from stepping up in trip having taken a bit more stoking up from the saddle in his recent starts.

This would represent a big step up in distance given he has yet to race beyond 2m 2f – he’s only contested once at that distance – and he’s not obviously bred for an additional mile. However, he has often travelled really well in his races and with this likely to be run at a decent pace then his high cruising speed might help him, and if he sees out the longer trip then he is entitled to go close.

Could Altior be stepped up to three miles to contest the Betfair Chase?

Could Altior be stepped up to three miles to contest the Betfair Chase?

The Seven Barrows trainer could also be represented by Might Bite (14/1, Paddy Power) who was sent off favourite for this race twelve months ago, but the Scorpion gelding had a season to forget after only managing to finish fifth, and he subsequently finished well-beaten in the King George VI Chase before failing to complete the course in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

A hugely-progressive novice chaser, winning the 2017 RSA Chase and Mildmay Novices’ Chase, he continued his improvement into the following season where his sole defeat came behind Native River when outstayed in the Gold Cup; but he bounced back to beat Bristol De Mai to win the Betway Bowl.

Given his top-class form the season before last, he would be a danger to all the Seven Barrows maestro was somehow able to get the Scorpion gelding back to that level; but he would turn out here with a question to answer.

A third Seven Barrows inmate in Valtor (33/1, Ladbrokes) could also make the final line-up, but the Ut*nidor gelding would need to find significant improvement to make his mark at this level, and given he’s a ten-year old that would seem unlikely and he would likely find himself outclassed.

A decent sort in France, he arrived at Nicky Henderson late in his career, and he made the perfect start to live at his new yard when posting an easy success over Jammin Masters at Ascot in a Listed race.

However, he pulled up in the Cotswold Chase won by Frodon, and although he completed the Grand National course in April he crossed the line almost 80 lengths adrift of winner Tiger Roll.

He’s clearly a smart sort, and he won his fair share of races in France; but this looks too toughand if he were to take his chance then he’d likely struggle to get competitive.

Frodon (13/2, Paddy Power) went from strength to strength last term, racking up four wins from five starts which included a breakthrough Grade One success when winning the Ryanair Chase, and Paul Nicholls’ charge will strip fitter for his reappearance in the recent Old Roan Chase.

The Nickname gelding also proved stamina for three miles when holding on dourly to land last season’s Cotswold Chase, and he may appreciate a return to this longer trip in the wake of his reappearance over shorter.

Tough and consistent, and one who wears his heart on his sleeve, he has been a revelation since switching to more forceful front-running tactics although he’s not certain to get his own way up front this time around.

Given that the Old Roan Chase didn’t play to his strengths with the last half-mile being run as a flat race, he’s not one to discount on the back of that reappearance and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in there pitching once again.

Black Corton (20/1, Bet365) could also represent the Nicholls camp, and the Laverock gelding wasn’t quite able to match his excellent novice season last term, but he continued to run with plenty of credit despite needing six runs to open his account for the season when beating Gold Present in the Oaksey Chase.

The Ditcheat runner had finished runner-up in four of his five previous starts, which included in the Charlie Hall Chase and a trio of Listed contests; while he failed to complete the course in an attritional Ladbrokes Trophy Chase when pulled up.

Fit from a couple of spins on the flat and over fences during the summer, he ran respectably back from three months off the track when third of 16 runners behind Vinndication at Ascot recently, but surely he needs more to be competitive at the top table.

Colin Tizzard could also have two in the contest, with LOST IN TRANSLATION (9/4, Ladbrokes) potentially joined by Elegant Escape, and the former could continue his rise up the ladder having looked a hugely progressive sort last term.

The Flemensfirth gelding took a little time to get to grips with the larger obstacles last term, twice beaten behind La Bague Au Roi, although the latter occasion at Newbury might have been an altogether different result had he not taken the third-last fence by the roots.

He beat Defi De Seuil next time though in the Dipper Novices’ Chase, after which he found the same rival too good in starts at Sandown and Cheltenham respectively, the latter coming in the JLT Novices’ Chase.

The step up to three miles for the Mildmay Novices’ Chase produced another jolt of improvement to beat RSA Chase winner Topofthegame, and he made an impressive return to action to beat Count Meribel at Carlisle in the Listed Colin Parker Memorial Chase, where aside from a late mistake he jumped for fun at the head of affairs, and he remains a hugely exciting chase prospect who could have even more to offer this campaign.

Stepping into an open Grade One will demand more from him, but he is capable of making his mark this term as a bona-fide Gold Cup contender.

Elegant Escape (20/1, Paddy Power) was smart as a novice during the 2017/18 season, and he carried on the good work last term, winning two of his first three starts which included the Welsh Grand National where he had Ballyoptic back in sixth.

Subsequently not disgraced behind Frodon in the Cotswold Chase, battling all the way to the line
but denied by three-parts of a length, that run may just have left a mark as he could only finish
sixth to Al Boum Photo in the Gold Cup, and the run at Aintree behind Kemboy in the Betway
Bowl was disappointing as he pulled up.

His reappearance in the Charlie Hall Chase was a solid run, conceding fitness to the winner when beaten around four lengths behind Ballyoptic, and likely to be sharper he could post a better effort although probably needs a shade more to feature but soft ground could make him of interest if taking his chances.

The jury remains out on whether 2018 Ryanair Chase winner Balko Des Flos (20/1, Bet365) truly gets three miles, but Henry de Bromhead’s charge has plenty on his plate nonetheless despite failing to add to his tally following his Cheltenham success.

Fourth at Aintree behind Politologue in the Melling Chase on his next outing following his Cheltenham win, he was winless in five starts last campaign which included behind Min in the John Durkan Memorial Chase, and he could only finish seventh when defending his Ryanair crown.

He did run a better race back at Aintree when finishing ten lengths’third behind Kemboy in last season’s Aintree Bowl, but he went out quickly on his reappearance behind Jett in the Irish Daily Star Chase despite travelling much the best in the race.

He may be better over shorter than this trip, and his overall profile would make him opposable for win purposes although he’s sure to strip fitter for that Punchestown reappearance.

Tout Est Permis (25/1, Bet365) finished one place ahead of Balko Des Flos in that Punchestown contest, and the Linda’s Lad gelding could have more to offer over fences this term.

A switch to Noel Meade from Mouse Morris’ yard has coincided with a revival of fortunes, and he won his first three outings last term, which included beating Sub Lieutenant in a Grade two at Thurles, although he could only finish eighth in the Irish Grand National on his next outing three months on.

That longer trip possibly just stretched him, and he ran respectably back at this distance on his return where he was beaten seven lengths by Jett, keeping on. This would be a much tougher test however, and he would have plenty to find if lining up although he can give a good account if lining up without quite being good enough to win at this level.


Altior is a very interesting candidate, but the unbeaten chaser would have to prove stamina over a considerably longer trip than any he has contested thus far. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Altior go well if lining up, while Might Bite would be dangerous if coming back to the level of for he showed a couple of seasons ago. Frodon can’t be easily dismissed either back over a longer trip and with a run under his belt.

However, LOSTINTRANSLATION (9/4, Ladbrokes) looked one with a big future over fences last erm when faced with a longer trip, and having acquitted himself well over shorter trips last term, he produced a much improved performance to score at Aintree to end his season on a winning note when stepped up to three miles.

Colin Tizzard’s charge made an equally impressive return when facing a relatively straightforward task at Carlisle last time out, jumping well on the sharp end over shorter and readily coming clear of his rivals to post a facile win; and there’s likely plenty of further improvement to come from the Flemensfirth gelding who can enhance his growing reputation as a Gold Cup candidate with success in this race if taking his chance.

Hat-trick seeking defending champion Bristol De Mail boasts an unbeaten record here and has to be respected, while recent Charlie Hall Chase winner Ballyoptic won’t mind a slog if the conditions deteriorate and spearhead a strong challenge for Nigel Twiston-Davies,and both could run well.