Sizing John and Might Bite in line for Haydock clash in first leg of £1m bonus
Gold Cup hero Sizing John and RSA Chase winner Might Bite look set to clash in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on November 25, after Jockey Club Racecourses announced on Thursday the race will once again form the first leg of the £1 million Chase Triple Crown.
Connections will scoop the £1m bonus – which is on offer for the third season in succession – if their horse wins the Betfair Chase, the 32Red King George VI Chase and the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, and the initiative certainly appears to have caught the imagination of leading trainers Jessica Harrington and Nicky Henderson.
Harrington last month told the Racing Post the bonus would be a target for Sizing John and that remains the case for the seven-year-old, who completed an unofficial triple crown of his own last season in winning the Gold Cups at Leopardstown, Cheltenham and Punchestown.
"Ever since Sizing John won in April at Punchestown we have had the Triple Crown on our minds," said Harrington. "Our aim is to start him off in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November."
Henderson is responsible for last season's star staying novice Might Bite, the winner of Grade 1s at Cheltenham and Aintree and a best-priced 10-1 to dethrone Sizing John – the 6-1 favourite – in the Gold Cup.
"The Chase Triple Crown is a fantastic initiative and it’s great that Jockey Club Racecourses is repeating the bonus," said Henderson.
"Might Bite’s main objective is the King George so with this bonus it would certainly make sense to start at Haydock."
The owner will scoop 65 per cent of the £1m pot if their horse completes the Triple Crown, while 15 per cent goes to the trainer, ten per cent to the stable staff at the winning yard and the other ten per cent split among the winning riders.
Kauto Star, who swept all before him during the 2006-7 season, is the only horse to have won the three races in the same campaign since the Betfair Chase was established in 2005.
JCR chief executive Paul Fisher said: "For trainers like Jessica Harrington to be saying they are specifically targeting the Chase Triple Crown this season is fantastic. To see a horse prove itself as the best staying chaser by winning all three of these races and the £1m bonus would be superb for our sport."
Another potential challenger at Haydock is the popular 11-year-old Cue Card, who has won the Betfair Chase for the last two seasons and three times in total.
Trainer Colin Tizzard said: "It’s fantastic that the £1m is on offer again. Having come so close to winning it two years ago with Cue Card and winning the Betfair Chase again last year we are really excited for the season ahead. Who’s to say this won’t be his year?”
32Red go 16-1 for any horse to win the £1m bonus. Coral make Sizing John 20-1 and Might Bite 33-1 to complete the Triple Crown. Cue Card is 100-1.
Will the triple crown be won?
Pietro Innocenzi's view
A resounding no way. Kauto Star is the only horse to have completed it and there is clearly no Kauto Star among this season's contenders, or even one who can come close to his achievements.
You also have to remember the stars aligned for Kauto in 2006-07, when he dominated an otherwise weak group of staying chasers. He came up short in the Gold Cup after winning the first two legs on three other occasions – showing just how difficult a task it is. And even in his pomp Cue Card blew it on the final leg.
With no standout performers all three races are likely to be highly competitive this season. I'd want at least 50-1 about any horse before being even slightly interested.
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