Haydock officials all set for high-class weekend feature

Haydock clerk Kirkland Tellwright reported the going as good to soft on Monday ahead of the track’s headline Betfair Chase fixture on Saturday.

The Grade One contest is the first leg of the Betfair Million, a three-race series that offers a £1million prize-money bonus to any horse that can win at Haydock and go on to take the King George VI Chase at Kempton and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Kauto Star is the only ever recipient of the prize, a horse whose record of four Betfair Chase victories could be equalled at the weekend by Nigel Twiston-Davies’ ever-popular Bristol De Mai.

Bristol De Mai is set for another Betfair Chase bid
Bristol De Mai is set for another Betfair Chase bid (Mike Egerton/PA)

The grey has won the race on three occasions on ground ranging from heavy to good, with going conditions likely to be somewhere in the middle come Saturday.

“We’ve just gone good to soft, good to places on the hurdle track, the chase track is good to soft,” said Tellwright.

“We’ve had four millimetres of rain over the weekend, I think we’re now not going to get much by way of rain but nor equally is much happening in terms of dry.

“It’s misty with heavy dews, it’s all happening pretty slowly but we’re in a really good place.”

The race looks likely to be a highly-competitive renewal, with Bristol De Mai poised to challenge for a fourth title and Henry de Bromhead’s Gold Cup runner-up A Plus Tard heading the ante-post market.

Rachel Blackmore and A Plus Tard
Rachel Blackmore and A Plus Tard (Tim Goode/PA)

Ireland have yet to take the trophy home despite fielding a handful of runners since the race’s inception in 2005, and Tellwright is keen to host an overseas challenger in order to further cement the contest’s status as a top-drawer steeplechase.

“There’s no doubt, it is important,” he said.

“If it can be done it establishes the race in that elite band of races that draw in horses from the key constituents.

“We would very much like an Irish runner. Kicking King ran in the first running of it, Beef Or Salmon ran and then we’ve had a few quiet years without an Irish horse, so one would be very welcome.”

“It would be great, but there’s no clerk who’ll count their chickens before they’ve hatched.”

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