Betbright Chase Preview: Warrior ready for BetBright battle

Dan Skelton is the trainer of the antepost selection What A Warrior
Dan Skelton is the trainer of the antepost selection What A Warrior

Timeform's Keith Melrose looks ahead to Saturday's Betbright Chase...

"While plenty in this race are looking at other targets in the spring, you get the impression that this race has been selected as What A Warrior’s main aim..."


This year's BetBright Chase looks primed for a bet- and it's partly because of the Grand National.

We didn't see many obvious National types in last weekend's Trial at Haydock, besides those whose cards are firmly on the table already, like Monbeg Dude. The reason, presumably, is that the weights for Aintree didn't come out until Tuesday of this week, and trainers are nothing if not protective of a Grand National hopeful's mark. Just look at Burton Port, running at Doncaster little more than 24 hours after his National weight had been secured.

Several of those who gave the Haydock race a wide berth, or who aren't qualified for veterans' events, are entered at the five-day stage for the BetBright. To say they're deadwood in this race would be a step too far, though it's rare you'll see a horse suited to three miles at Kempton as well as the Grand National. For proof see Big Fella Thanks, the only horse this century to place in both races. He barely had the speed for this race when third in 2009 and effectively didn't get home when fourth in the following year's National.

We don't need to generalise, mind you. Taking the likes of Godsmejudge, Rocky Creek and The Rainbow Hunter on their own merits, none would be the ideal type for this race and especially off such limited preparation. Another National entrant, Rajdhani Express, probably isn't a great fit for either race.

There are plenty of horses you can rule out in the BetBright Chase, so it's easy to see why the obvious sorts like Easter Day and Fox Appeal are so well fancied.

It's difficult to pin down exactly where Easter Day would have finished in Annacotty's race on Festival Trials Day, though 'close' would be a fair guess given how easy he was going when he fell three out. He'd been all the rage that day and he looks set to be again off the same mark here. His jumping can normally be relied upon, so we wouldn't be surprised if he were to win.

The same goes for Fox Appeal, who's one for your Placepot perm on the day. He almost never runs a bad race and runs many of his good ones here. The form of his last two starts, when he's finished second to Balder Succes and then Rebel Rebellion, keeps him very much in this from a handicapping perspective- indeed, he's top on Timeform's weight-adjusted ratings.

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Telling you that the market leaders have a chance is a necessary qualifier, but it doesn't really work as a hook for an ante-post article. A wrong price- specifically a 25/1 shot that should be half the price- works far better for those purposes.

It's easy to lose interest when a progressive horse hits a bump in the road and it's even easier to forget such a horse after a break. When the flop is excusable and the break deliberate, it's easier to forgive. That's how we see What A Warrior's profile this season and, thrown in with some strong form in the autumn, he looks very tempting at long odds.

The negative memories of What A Warrior could be long-sighted as well as short-sighted. He was a rogue for Nigel Twiston-Davies, though Dan Skelton wasted no time in turning him around, showing a good attitude to win at Ludlow on his debut for the yard. He then went to the United House Gold Cup at Ascot, where another bold, front-running performance saw him take Black Thunder's measure. Merry King was third.

The Hennessy was the next stop. There no amount of determination could help What A Warrior, who got caught up in a simply suicidal pace battle with Annacotty and Le Reve. Neither of those two were obviously any worse for it: Annacotty won on Trials Day, as we know, while Le Reve won the Masters at Sandown recently. Plus, of course, the Hennessy has proved one of the hottest handicaps of the season. Winner Many Clouds is second favourite for the Gold Cup, while Houblon des Obeaux is the standard against which so many good staying handicaps are judged these days. Merry King was third.

While plenty in this race are looking at other targets in the spring, you get the impression that this race has been selected as What A Warrior's main aim- Harry Skelton is already booked to ride and this is the sort of race that should suit the style he has displayed for his new yard. Look to Nacarat, Quinz, Gunther McBride or Gloria Victis for clear evidence of how well front-runners fare in the BetBright, where a big field and tight turns make surrendered ground difficult to recover.

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A few creditable mentions have to be made. Chartreux gets the first one. Like What A Warrior he's a reformed character, no longer a chronic weak finisher. His win at Punchestown in the spring looks strong form now and his return over C&D last month looked a satisfactory pipe-opener.

Renard is the Grand National entrant you' d probably give most time to in this race. He has the speed for shorter, as he displayed at Chepstow on Welsh National day, as well as the stamina for further. As a consistent, sound-jumping prominent racer, he could join Fox Appeal in any Placepot perm.

Finally there's Rolling Aces, who fits the other major theme of this race: previous form. The aforementioned Nacarat and Gunther McBride, as well as Marlborough and others, have run well in this race more than once in recent times. Rolling Aces was second in Opening Batsman's renewal and has been shaping well this season, while suggesting a return to three miles is overdue.

You can back those three between 12/1 and 20/1. The cases for them are no stronger than that for What A Warrior and yet their prices are all shorter. If you want one bet, then make it What A Warrior, who has everything in place for a bold showing like the ones he put up earlier in the season.

Recommended bet:

Back What A Warrior each-way @ 25/1 in the BetBright Chase


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