With the Betfair Chase taking centre stage on Saturday at Haydock, our writers have pulled out their best bet for the feature...
Daryl Carter, Kate Tracey, Rhys Williams, Timeform & Chris Loader offer their expert analysis for the big race at Haydock this Saturday.
"A cracking renewal of the Betfair Chase, but Royal Pagaille has been underestimated by the market, likely on the basis that his form suggests he needs deep ground. While that would be preferable, it wasn't the ground that got him beat in the Gold Cup but his woeful jumping after hitting every fence on the course.
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"To his credit, he was still bang there four-out before one too many mistakes saw him empty. That was an off day as he is usually an impeccable jumper as he showed here at Haydock twice last term, including recording an RPR bettered only by Bristol De Mai (by one pound) in the last 10 years when winning the Peter Marsh. He has good each-way claims."
"This year's Betfair Chase isn't the mud-lark's paradise we usually expect. We're only likely to have good to soft ground due to the morning dew and mist. I don't pigeonhole Bristol De Mai into being merely a heavy ground specialist. Especially after winning this race on good ground in 2018 when three seconds quicker than standard. However, he handles softer conditions better than most and that's the distinction.
"I fear the good ground will bring rivals closer to Bristol De Mai which is why I'm siding with A Plus Tard. The Gold Cup second heads the official ratings and is just a seven-year-old with far more to come over three-miles plus. That makes Henry De Bromhead's runner difficult to oppose."
"The intended participation of A Plus Tard adds a special ingredient to this year's Betfair Chase and the Gold Cup runner-up could take all the beating. Officially the best horse in the race by 6lb, he'll like the conditions and we might not have seen the best of him yet. However, he has been beaten on his last three seasonal reappearances so preference is for Bristol De Mai.
"Nigel Twiston-Davies' horse is going for his fourth victory in the race and history tells us that he'll be fully tuned up for this test. He's won this on better ground before and the bold-jumping grey is taken to do so again."
"A Plus Tard and Bristol De Mai are sure to be very popular for this year's renewal of the Betfair Chase and it's easy to see why. However, I think this has the opportunity for an each-way angle and Next Destination makes plenty of appeal. It has been well documented that he has had problems along the way during his career, but he progressed well as a novice chaser last season after transferring to Paul Nicholls.
"His second in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham, reads very well as Galvin, Snow Leopardess and Remastered have all won since. Furthermore he has an excellent record fresh, but despite having to vastly improve on ratings he should not be underestimated in this field and he is unexposed at the highest level in open company."
I think the market has this about right so it's a race to watch and learn from for me, particularly regarding Royale Pagaille and Waiting Patiently. The former was a huge improver last season but jumped badly in the Gold Cup and sustained a serious foot injury and this is his first start since. Waiting Patiently is having his first start for Christian Williams.
"He showed the ability is still there when running well in the King George last season but that was slowly run and he has to prove he can see out this trip in what is likely to be a much stronger run race."
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