The big questions facing Betfair Chase contenders

Cue Card: 'he will take all the beating and he's in beautiful form'

PICTURE: Martin Lynch (racingpost.com/photos) The big questions facing Betfair Chase contenders
By Racing Post staff 7:25aM 19 NOV 2016

THE BETFAIR CHASE has seen some epic tussles and exceptional champions over its 10 years but arguably it has never had a field to compare to Saturday's race, which assembles some of chasing's biggest and brightest stars.

And with question marks over every competitor and a keenly contested betting market it has been little surprise to see connections of the five main contenders talking up their chances this week.

Here's what they had to say in the run-up to what is the jump season's most hotly-anticipated race to date.

CUE CARD

Question mark: Fell in the Gold Cup, beaten at Punchestown and beaten again on his return in the Charlie Hall. Will he enjoy a strongly-run trip on testing ground?

What they said

Colin Tizzard, trainer: "Coneygree's a very good horse. If he makes the running that will be brilliant – he can give us a lead to the last.

"The Betfair Chase is his race. Cue Card has been there and done it so I'm not surprised he's a short priced favourite.

"He will take all the beating. He's in beautiful form and we are having lots of winners. I am pretty confident going there but it's a horserace after all.

"We will let Paddy [Brennan] ride his race where he is and not make it happen as we did at Wetherby.

"We had been clear about being positive and we might have overdone it. In hindsight if we had taken a tow off the home bend like the others, instead of kicking on, we would have been closer to winning."

CONEYGREE

Coneygree

Coneygree: 'by the time we get to the last Cue Card will be out on his feet'

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)

Question mark: Off the track for a year, can he be expected to show his best under an aggressive ride in an incredibly strong race?

What they said

Sara Bradstock, wife of trainer Mark: "The Cue Card camp are saying we'll just sit behind Coneygree till the last. What I'm hoping is that by the time we get to the last Cue Card will be out on his feet.

"Obviously if he does get tired Richard [Johnson] will look after him and then we might get beaten. I'm just hoping and praying we'll be far enough in front if he does get tired.

"Coneygree loves it, the softer the better, but it does make it a little bit more of a test having been off the track for so long and I suppose he is not alone in that none of them have galloped on anything like this."

SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT

SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT - Brian Hughes Carlisle 30/10/16

Seeyouatmidnight: 'I always knew he was a bit special'

PICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)

Question mark: Scotland's best racehorse, but well-beaten in the RSA Chase on the one occasion he met top class rivals

What they said

Sandy Thomson, trainer: "You've got to go and have a go and if we're not good enough, we're not good enough and we'll take it on the chin. But I feel he's come on from last year and none of them are getting any younger.

"It would be a brilliant achievement if they could get Coneygree back to win a race of that kind and it's possible, but there are chinks so let's have a go.

"I always feel softer ground would inconvenience others more than him.

"I always knew he was a bit special and it's brilliant to have Brian Hughes on our side – he's riding out of his skin."

SILVINIACO CONTI

Silviniaco Conti

Silviniaco Conti: 'he has to go there with a great chance'

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)

Question mark: A two-time winner of both the Betfair Chase and King George, but beaten in this by Cue Card last year and not at his best through the campaign, for all that he added another Grade 1 to his tally

What they said

Noel Fehily, rider: "I was very happy with his last run and felt he was much more like himself.

"I was never happy with him last season and I didn't think he showed his true form even at Ascot [when he won the Grade 1 Ascot Chase] but he felt back to himself at Down Royal.

"If he can build on that run a little bit, he has to go there with a great chance.

"Paul had done a lot of work with him but he has always said Silviniaco Conti improves for his first run and that is what he has always shown."

IRISH CAVALIER

IRISH CAVALIER

Irish Cavalier: 'our fella will have improved for the race as well'

PICTURE: Martin Lynch (racingpost.com/photos)

Question mark: Took a big step forward with victory over Cue Card in the Charlie Hall, but he was receiving weight there and has plenty to find with the big guns

What they said

Jonathan Moore, rider: "People have been saying Cue Card may have needed the run at Wetherby, but our fella will have improved for the race as well.

"We went a good, strong gallop and my lad was on Cue Card's heels good and early, so it wasn't as if Cue Card burned himself out or anything as I was travelling with him the whole way.

"He really ground it out and stuck his neck out at the back of the last fence and is open to improvement as well as this horse is only seven and people seem to be forgetting that.

"Rebecca [Curtis, trainer] says that every season he comes back into training he is a stone better. If he does that again this year he's going to be bang there with all of the good three-mile chasers."

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