Liverpool FC: Christmas Crack Me Up Challenge
A field of six have been declared for tomorrow’s Betfair Chase at Haydock. Bristol de Mai is the 11/10 favourite for the opening leg of National Hunt’s newly-created ‘Triple Crown, and is 50/1 with BetVictor to win the Betfair Chase, King George and Cheltenham Gold Cup this season.
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies landed the feature race last weekend with Splash of Ginge causing an upset in the BetVictor Gold Cup and I expect his mud-loving grey to go close under Daryl Jacob in his preferred forecast bottomless ground.
Betfair Chase prices:
Bristol de Mai 11/10
Cue Card 2/1
The ground is similarly heavy at Ascot where they go for the course’s two-day November Meeting. Colin Tizzard’s Sizing Tennessee (1.00) should belatedly get off the mark over fences. The 8yo remains a maiden after six starts over the larger obstacles but received a form boost with Black Corton winning a G2 at Cheltenham on Saturday and can make it 7th time over fences.
Nicky Henderson’s Kilcrea Vale is likely to be all the rage for the feature 2m 5f Handicap Chase. However, he has disappointed on both visits to the Berkshire track and preference lies instead with previous course and distance winner Thomas Brown (2.40) under Niall Madden. The selection looked rusty on last month’s seasonal reappearance. That said, he is now just a pound below his last winning mark and appears well-placed by trainer Harry Fry to claim a second Ascot success.
Readers of this column will be well aware of my affection towards Kaki de La Pree (3.15) who makes his seasonal reappearance in the 3m Handicap Chase under Champion Jockey Richard Johnson. The apple of trainer Tom Symonds’ eye missed a tilt at the Welsh National after scoping badly last December. He then ran poorly in a pair of competitive handicap chases at Warwick and given plenty of time to recover thereafter. Nevertheless, he remains relatively unexposed over fences and will relish the stiff test of Ascot.
Verdana Blue (3.50) was another to need the run on seasonal debut when finishing fifth in a warm handicap hurdle on the same Ascot card and should improve with Nico de Boinville replacing Jeremiah McGrath in the plate. The Nicky Henderson-trained mare ran to a fair standard last term as a novice, finishing fourth in the G1 Mares’ Novice Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March. She will surely prove better than a 135-rated hurdler in her second season over timber.
Sizing Tennessee 2/1
Thomas Brown 9/2
Kaki de La Pree 7/1
Verdana Blue 4/1
At Ffos Las, I hope to see A Bold Move (2.15) shed the maiden tag under rules for Christian Williams. The selection is a maiden after six starts under rules but is a winning pointer in his native Ireland and has the assistance of Davy Russell in the plate. He showed glimpses of ability last term over timber, finishing second to both Jenkins and Mon Palois here when unfancied in novices’ hurdles, but should improve over the larger obstacles and is a confident selection to make a winning chase debut.
Evans Williams’ On The Road (2.50) relished soft ground last term, winning on bottomless ground at Lingfield and twice following-up at Sedgefield. He should continue progressing to land the feature handicap hurdle. Adam Wedge gets on well with the 7yo and he looks well-treated to defy a career-high mark of 123.
Connections can double-up with Al Dancer (4.00) in the bumper who left a favourable impression when second here over course and distance last month on his racecourse debut. The gelding bumped into a useful sort of the Harry Whittington yard that day, who has since made a winning debut over hurdles subsequently. He must go close under the excellent Charlie Deutsch.
A Bold Move 11/4
On The Road 3/1
Al Dancer EVS