The Duke’s Weekend Preview

If you’re a National Hunt racing fan then this weekend is one to note for the entire season.

There will be form you will look at in the coming months and say to your friends “well if you remember what happened at Haydock” or “if the Ascot form holds up”. However, if you’re a betting man or woman, then you’ll be looking for an angle on Saturday, regardless of what that means for the future.

As such, let’s take a look first of all at the weekend’s most important race, the Betfair Chase at Haydock. The prominent gaming firm has turned this race in to one of the pinnacle races of the staying chase season, so all credit to them. You’ll probably hear my good friend Barry Orr bang on about Bristol de Mai or Cue Card for this race in the markets, but are they the only ones who are worth concentrating on?

Outlander won the Grade 1 Champion Chase. One of the ones in behind, Alpha Des Obeaux, has given some substance to the form after winning the Grade 2 Clonmel Oil Chase. The ground won’t be an issue, despite it looking very testing at Haydock. Tea For Two won’t be phased by the ground either and has winning form over Cue Card when scoring in the Betway Bowl Chase at Aintree back in April.

Bristol de Mai was strong in winning the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby and fans of the Nigel Twiston-Davies runner will take heart from the fact one of his best performances was at Haydock in January when conditions were very slow. Cue Card fell at Wetherby but will be looking for his fourth win in the Betfair Chase. Harry Cobden will ride him for the first time and the alarm bells are ringing as to why a trainer/owner would choose to replace an established jockey like Paddy Brennan with a fledgling youth like Cobden. I love Cue Card, but Bristol de Mai has untapped potential and still only a six-year-old he could progress past his excellent older rivals.

Earlier in the afternoon at Ascot, it’s the Coral Hurdle over nearly two and a half miles. Dicosimo makes a first start for Warren Greatrex after switching from Willie Mullins’ yard. Along with Wakea, he seems outclassed in this race.

I think Lil Rockerfeller is overpriced in the market. He finished second to Nichols Canyon in the Stayers’ Hurdle and while he’s hardly the most consistent type, he shouldn’t have much issue with the ground.

L’Ami Serge has placed in two Cheltenham Festival races and having started last season with chasing in mind, he’s clearly got some ability over the smaller obstacles as demonstrated with a tight runner-up effort in the County Hurdle.

Defi Du Seuil could well start favourite and his seven wins over hurdles from seven efforts should be respected. Sometimes we don’t see Triumph Hurdle winners go on to success as older horses, but his form is hard to disagree with. Those three should contest the win and it’s hard to choose between the trio for betting purposes. Lil Rockerfeller may be the best value at the odds. Best of luck punters!

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