CAN WHAT A FRIEND WIN THE BETFAIR CHASE AT HAYDOCK ON SATURDAY 20 NOVEMBER?
WHAT A FRIEND AIMING TO CONTINUE NICHOLLS’ EXCEPTIONAL BETFAIR CHASE RECORD AT HAYDOCK PARK
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls will bid to enhance his superb record in the £200,000 Grade One Betfair Chase (3.25pm) with leading chaser What A Friend on course to contest the prestigious three-mile chase at Haydock Park on Saturday, November 20.
The Ditcheat handler has dominated the Betfair Chase since its inception courtesy of 14-time Grade One winner Kauto Star, who took the spoils in 2006, 2007 and beat subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup victor Imperial Commander in a scintillating climax to last year’s race.
What A Friend himself posted a pair of Grade One victories last season, having scored in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown in December and ended his campaign with a comfortable success in the totesport Bowl at Aintree’s Grand National meeting, when he took on the likes of Nacarat and Imperial Commander.
The seven-year-old is part-owned Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and there is an outside chance he could be joined in the Betfair Chase by stable-companion Noland, who has not raced since taking the Grade One John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase in December, 2008.
Nicholls revealed today: “What A Friend is likely to be our only runner in the Betfair Chase. He had a breathing operation over the summer and he looks in good form at the moment.
“After Haydock, his main objective of the season will be the Cheltenham Gold Cup. We didn’t aim him at Cheltenham last season because we wanted to give him a bit of time to mature but it is definitely his long-term target this time around.
“Denman and Kauto Star will not be heading to Haydock but Noland is a slight possibility for the Betfair Chase. I have just had a little temporary hold-up with him and I would want him bang on when he runs.
“It’s pointless if horses need a run after they have been off for while and we might need another fortnight with him. I am trying to find a race for him and will have to discuss it with (owner) John Hales, so it’s 99 per cent certain that What A Friend will be our only representative.”
The Betfair Chase is the highlight of the two-day Northwest Masters, which continues at Aintree on Sunday, November 21, and is one of only three Grade One staying chases in Britain, the others being the three-mile King George VI Chase at Kempton in December and the extended three and a quarter-mile Gold Cup at Cheltenham in March.
Haydock’s fantastic seven-race card on November 20 also features the £75,000 Listed 40% Better Off On Betfair SP “Fixed Brush” Handicap Hurdle (2.55pm) over three miles, as well as the £40,000 Betfair iphone & Android App Hurdle (1.50pm) over two miles for four-year-olds.
The day commences at 12.40pm with the £17,500 Coronation Street 50th Anniversary Novices’ Hurdle over two miles, while the remaining contests are also over two miles, the £25,000 Follow Paul Nicholls On Facebook And Twitter Handicap Chase (1.15pm) and the £7,000 Timeform Betfair Racing Club Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (3.55pm).
The Northwest Masters continues at Aintree on Sunday, November 21, which is the only raceday of the year to feature two races over the famous Grand National fences - the £60,000 totesuper7 Grand Sefton Chase (12.35pm) and the £100,000 Listed totesport.com Becher Chase (1.45pm).
For further information please contact Dickon White, Managing Director at Haydock Park, on 01942 725963 or 07798 928924 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org