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2018 Betfair Chase tips – Favourite to show his class in Haydock’s seasonal highlight

Jonathan Vine in Tips 20 Nov 2018
Native River (right) beats Might Bite to Gold Cup glory at Cheltenham in March.

Our expert takes a look through the ante-post betting for Haydock’s main event on Saturday and provides readers with his betting suggestions.

The first major Grade One of the British National Hunt racing season is almost upon us and racegoers in the Merseyside area can look forward to a stellar renewal of the Betfair Chase this weekend. 

Race organisers and sponsors created the Betfair Chase in 2005 and it was instantly included as the first leg of the Chasing Triple Crown. Kauto Star became the first, and only, horse to claim the £1m bonus a year later, when Paul Nicholls’ legendary chaser followed his triumph at Haydock with victories in the King George and the Gold Cup at Cheltenham.

With the bonus at the forefront of many minds, jump racing's elite have entered their biggest and best long-distance chasers into the 2019 Betfair Chase. Our expert has taken a look at the current betting and provided readers with his tips.

3:00pm Haydock Betfair Chase (Grade 1) (Registered As The Lancashire Chase) 3m1½f

Might Bite (Evens Ladbrokes) was one of the first names confirmed in the running for the Betfair Chase, as Nicky Henderson took aim at the bonus during his pre-season stable tour. With the going sent to be no worse than good-to-soft, bookies slashed the King George winner's odds into around the even-money mark and it’s hard to knock Might Bite’ credentials.

Henderson’s nine-year-old didn’t have to be at his best to win the King George and, after a decent effort in the Gold Cup, showed his true colours at Aintree. Nico De Boinville’s mount posted a couple of dodgy jumps early on, but Might Bite got better with every furlong crossed and comfortably pulled clear to win the Aintree Bowl by seven lengths.

Heavy ground was never likely to suit Might Bite at the Cheltenham Festival, but he ran a great race to stay with Native River (10/3 Betfair) as long as he did. However, when the favourite found nothing on the run to the line, Richard Johnson was left to push Colin Tizzard’s charge to a famous victory in National Hunt racing’s most famous race.

After a hectic season which saw him win both the Ladbrokes Trophy and the Welsh Grand National before finishing third in the Gold Cup, Tizzard’s charge appeared just once before his Cheltenham triumph last term. After an uninterrupted summer, Native River is likely to be seen much more this term and the strong test of stamina you usually find in the Betfair Chase should suit his style perfectly.

Bristol De Mai and Daryl Jacob jump the last in splendid isolation last year as they secure a lengthy victory in the Betfair Chase.

With many of the star names out of the picture, Bristol De Mai (11/2 William Hill) secured a record-breaking triumph in this race last year, cruising to the widest-margin victory in British Grade One history. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ chaser couldn’t build on that 57-length victory in either the King George or the Cotswold Chase, but proved he belonged amongst chasing’s elite when following Might Bite home at Aintree. While that was a good display, it seems Bristol De Mai needs heavy ground on a flat track to produce his best work and he won't find those conditions at Haydock this weekend.

Thistlecrack (9/1 Ladbrokes) captured the imagination of the sporting public during the second half of 2016, with his victory in the King George one of the stand-out performances of the season. A surprise defeat to the ill-fated Many Clouds followed, after which injury ruled him out for the rest of the season. 

Thistlecrack registered limp effort over hurdles on his return last winter and picked up another injury soon after attempting to defend his King George crown. Tizzard’s ten-year-old was only beaten by six-lengths that day, but still has to prove that age and injury haven’t quashed his swashbuckling style.

Paul Nicholls looks set to fire two arrows at the Betfair Chase crown, with Clan Des Obeaux (10/1 William Hill) leading the Ditcheat charge. Injury forced the Sir Alex Ferguson-owned chaser out of a tilt at the Gold Cup, but Clan Des Obeaux proved he was of Grade One quality at Aintree, where a strong late finish saw him cross the line just a couple of lengths behind Bristol De Mai in third.

Politologue (18/1 Betfair) is the unknown factor in the betting, having never raced beyond two-and-a-half miles before in his career. Nicholls’ charge claimed the Tingle Creek and the Desert Orchid last year, before losing out to Altior at Newbury and Cheltenham. Politologue then defeated Min to win the two-and-a-half mile Melling Chase and I’m very excited to see how this classy chaser takes to staying chasing.

Might Bite (near) leaves Bristol De Mai (right) and Clan Des Obeaux (centre) for dust in the Aintree Bowl.

Fresh off the back of his victory in the JNWine Champion Chase, Outlander (33/1 Betfair) travelled to Haydock last year, but could only finish a distant third behind Bristol De Mai. Stablemate, Don Poli (40/1 Ladbrokes) also features in the list of entries for the Betfair Chase. Gordon Elliott’s former Festival winner hasn’t been seen since placing third behind Sizing John in the 2017 Irish Gold Cup and it will take Don Poli a few runs to shake the rust out of his legs.

Gordon Elliott’s third entrant in the betting is Shattered Love (14/1 William Hill) and it would be brilliant to see the JLT winner take her place in front of the starter's flag at Haydock. Shattered Love boasts winning form over three miles and ran a respectable race behind Snow Falcon on her reappearance, yet – on ratings alone – she has a huge amount of ground to make up on the protagonists at the head of the betting.

The value bet in this year’s Betfair Chase has to be Native River, with the Gold Cup king currently sitting on 10/3. That being said, I’m convinced that – had the ground been a little better – MIGHT BITE would have beaten Native River at Cheltenham and, with the ground seemingly in his favour, I can’t see the favourite being beaten.

Nicky Henderson has done a fantastic job of settling down a horse renowned for regular spates of melodramatics. There were no signs of histrionics in either the King George or the Gold Cup and Nico De Boinville didn't have to exert much energy in pushing Might Bite to victory at Aintree.

For me, Might Bite is the best staying chaser in the business. Should he feature in the final list of entries – something in the back of my head is telling me Nicky Henderson may sensationally swerve at the last minute – he should be too slick and too speedy for Native River and the rest of his Haydock rivals.

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2018 Betfair Chase tips – Favourite to show his class in Haydock’s seasonal highlight

Our expert takes a look through the ante-post betting for Haydock’s main event on Saturday 24th November and provides readers with his betting suggestions.

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