Unfortunately, we have some tiny fields and skinny prices in the big races over the obstacles this weekend but that is just the way of it in so many of these races now. The exception to the rule is the G.3 Betfair Exchange Stayers' Handicap Hurdle at Haydock for which Kalashnikov was briefly on my mind but he’ll have top-weight in a big field going over three-miles for the first time so I have decided to watch rather than bet. I am in fact having just one bet Saturday and that is already placed.
Race of the day, the weekend for that matter, is the 3m1½f Grade One Betfair Chase at Haydock due off at 3.00. It’s a small field again but a select bunch. Bristol De Mai is a big favourite of mine and his record here is well known. He just wasn’t quite as good as the best about last year and perhaps has questions to answer this season. It has been a very hard decision for me but I am not backing him – watch the bugger win now! Last year's winner Lostintranslation defends his crown and will likely be favourite. He was subsequently pulled-up in the King George before finishing third in the Gold Cup, where he had every chance and was beaten fair and square. Those two have obvious chances but I am taking them on.
Paul Nicholls is confident Clan Des Obeaux will have no problem getting the trip when he attempts to give the trainer a seventh Betfair Chase success at Haydock. He is yet to win beyond three miles but Nicholls expects him to have enough stamina to see out the extra furlong and a half here; the relatively flat galloping track certainly gives him hope in my opinion. Nicholls said on Tuesday: “He travels well and you could put him anywhere. You would want to reserve a little bit of stamina as it is three miles, one and a half furlongs. He has not won over that trip before, but I don’t think it is a problem – you just ride him accordingly and slot him in anywhere. Sam (Twiston-Davies) and Harry (Cobden) both said if the King George was three miles, one and a half last year, he would have still won, so I don’t think the trip is an issue.” The trainer continued “Clan des Obeaux is a dual King George winner and we have set out to try and win the Betfair Chase this year and not just use the race as a prep for Kempton...............He is a proper sort of horse and is only eight so is probably at his peak now. He just looks a different horse now. He is more athletic and stronger, and his work has been very good."
I of course tipped him for the King George last year and was convinced I was on the winner a fair way out before then tipping him each-way for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham where he made a mistake at the wrong time and that was that! The eight-year-old has had wind surgery since we last saw him in March and that of course may lead to a little further improvement yet, you never know.
He will be reunited with Twiston-Davies for the first time since the pair won last year’s King George VI Chase with stable jockey Harry Cobden set to go to Ascot. Twiston-Davies has been at the yard to ride him work this week and I have a bit of the 11-4 against the two favourites.