Betfair Chase prediction:
The Betfair Chase carries a hefty prize fund, but only four runners will be going to post in this race at 3.00pm on Saturday, with the Grade 1 winner bringing home over £110,000 for his connections.
There may only be four set to battle it out over this testing three-mile 1.5-furlong course, but the race is a real head-scratcher for racing fans searching for the winner.
UK betting sites suggest it is a two-horse race, with Bravemansgame and Protektorat dominating the market.
As in last year’s race, where there were five runners, Protektorat is predicted to amble along just off the pace for much of the trip before going through the gears on the long run for home.
He has an excellent record with trainer Dan Skelton first time up, winning two and narrowly beaten in two, making him one to consider.
Strictly on form, Bravemansgame is rightfully the favourite. The Paul Nicholls-trained runner finished second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March with Protekorat, who arguably found the trip a little too testing, eight lengths behind him.
If both horses are at a similar level on Saturday, there would be little reason to suppose he will not confirm that form.
Will Bravemansgame fire at Haydock?
Bravemansgame made his seasonal reappearance in the Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby at the beginning of the month when finishing second to Gentlemansgame.
A mistake at the last may have cost him, but he is only likely to improve for that pipe opener.
However, the vibes from the Nicholls camp have not been as positive. Nicholls makes no secret that Bravemansgame's main target before Cheltenham has always been the precious King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Nicholls will have that race on his mind regarding Bravemansgame, and he is already as short as 6/4 in the King George betting market. He won last year’s race in the style of a champion.
The six-time Betfair Chase winning trainer reports that the horse came out of the Wetherby race very well and that he will take a step forward for the run.
Owner Bryan Drew was keen for Bravemansgame to take his chance on Saturday, but the question is, will he be going into the race at his peak?
If he is, then he will be a real handful, but the chances are that we will not see the very best of him until the King George.
That is not to say he cannot win both races, of course, but from a betting point of view, there are enough seeds of doubt to oppose him this weekend.
Looking elsewhere in the field, there is no immediately compelling reason to side with Royale Pagaille, who is a best-priced 15/2 with horse racing betting sites.
He goes well at Haydock and has won twice over course and distance, but he struggled to find top form last season and appears to have it all to do against the market principals.
Grand National winner Corach Rambler looks much more interesting, though, and the 10/1 on offer with Boylesports could be worth consideration with an outside bet.
After showing plenty of ability as a novice chaser, he stepped up to the big time when winning the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2022. He repeated that feat at this year’s festival in March before winning the Grand National.
He was far below his best on his seasonal reappearance at Kelso at the end of October. Still, the going was reportedly heavier than the official soft estimation, which would have been against him.
With little or no rain forecast before Saturday’s big race, the going should be far more to his liking.
He beat Fastorslow in this year’s Ultima Handicap, and that horse beat Galopin Des Champs and Bravemansgame in his next race, the three-mile Grade 1 Punchestown Gold Cup. That could prove a significant line of form.
Protektorat too good to beat?
Whether Corach Rambler is forward enough and up to winning in this kind of company is debatable but he is a horse who only does sufficient in his races, so there is possibly still more to come from Lucinda Russell’s charge.
The Kelso race should have brought him on fitness-wise, and the fact that connections have gone for this race would suggest that they feel he is more than just there to make up the numbers.
Had there been each way terms available, Corach Rambler would have made plenty of appeal, but in a win-only market, our chosen bet is to side with last year’s champion Protektorat at 9/4 with bet365.
Protektorat won this race in grand style last year and has been prepared to the minute with this race as his main early-season target.
Skelton, has described the horse as one that you can train specifically for first time up and that his fitness is right where he wants it.
So, there is no lack of confidence in the Skelton camp going into the race, and he is adamant that Protektorat will put up a good defence of his crown and that is why we're backing him with our Betfair Chase prediction.
Betfair Chase Tip: Protektorat to win Betfair Chase - 9/4 bet365
Paul has been professionally involved with sports betting since joining the Racing Post in 1986. Although greyhound racing was his first passion, he has also written multiple articles on a wide range of sports from a betting perspective.