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Saturday 19 November 2016

Can Cue Card win the Betfair Chase again?

Disappointing efforts from both selections on Friday.
Sometimes when assessing the form in the search for value, you can look too hard and overlook the obvious winner.

There has been some considerable rain at Haydock, and the ground for Saturday is heavy going. Given the uncertainty of the form of some of the runners on the ground, the Betfair Chase is a no-bet race for me.  I expect Coneygree to win, but do not underestimate Seeyouatmidnight. I would love to see Cue Card win the race again but, I fear, age is catching up with him.

The heavy ground has resulted in a disappointing turnout for the 3-mile handicap chase run after the Betfair Chase. Only 6 horses go to post, and the market is headed by the 9yo Saroque who will probably be at his best today as his seasonal debut is the time to catch him. Firebird Flyer pulled-up in this race last year, so may have had a better preparation this time - but he did have a good season last year (2nd in the Welsh National, and winning the Midlands National) so perhaps they will have done things just the same. Three Faces West looks harshly treated on OR135, and Midnight Prayer is (I fear) too old at 11yo to beat this field. Trainer Sue Smith sends a couple: Straidnahanna who we know well, and De Vous A Moi who has not looked a 3-miler in two previous attempts at the trip but enjoys the ground. Straidnahanna looked like winning this last year (we were on him) but he fell 3-out when leading and going well. He looks the most obvious winner to me, and his odds of 4/1 are fair.

At Ascot, there are a couple of races of interest. 
In the feature race at 2:05pm, God's Own looks the most likely winner as we know he stays this trip and likes the ground.  With Dodging Bullets it all depends on if stays this 2m5f trip, as he's not looked like staying this far in previous attempts beyond 2-miles.  Trainer Paul Nicholls reckons he can and, if he does, in receipt of 10lb from God's Own he would be a shoo-in. Kylemore Lough is the dark horse, and he may well be up to the task. However, he has done most of his racing and winning on softer ground than today and it is his presence in the race (rather than Dodging Bullets) that is preventing me from having a wager on God's Own at 11/4.  

In the Coral Hurdle at 2:40pm I am happy to oppose Yanworth as he looked a much better horse on soft ground in January than he did on good ground in March. He may need this run, but which of Zarkandar or Garde La Victoire will beat him and win I'm not sure. I prefer Garde La Victoire as he is a younger horse and we know he's fit and in tip-top form - and he's also 7/1. But this race could well get tactical, and you can never discount the tenacious Lil Rockerfeller even if he is giving weight away all round.

The 2-mile handicap chase at 3:15pm could be the race in which we have our wager of the day. VANITEUX looked a top class horse last season, and I'm sure he would have pushed Douvan in the Arkle but for unseating 2-out. His stamina was stretched over 2m5f at Sandown in April and this drop back to 2-mile should see him at his best. Rated OR154, he looks a 165+ 2-mile chaser to me and I'm expecting an exciting performance.
Generally priced at 5/2 (he is 9/4 with a few bookies), he was 11/4 with Bet365 last night and I advised those on my email list to take that price. He looks head and shoulders better than this field and I am sure his superiority will show. .
For those who are more adventurous, VANITEUX is currently 33/1 for the Champion Chase. After he wins this, his odds will be under 10/1 tomorrow (I'm sure of it) and when Willie Mullins decides to send Douvan for the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup (as I'm sure he will now Vautour is dead) he will be in the top-3 in the Champion Chase market.  Nicky Henderson does know a bit about preparing a Champion Chaser!

Just the one selection advised.

Ascot 3:15pm VANITEUX, £10 win @ 11/4 (advised on Friday evening to those on my email list)

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