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Who wins the Betfair Chase? Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the big-race contenders

Saturday's Betfair Chase (3.00) at Haydock is the big race of the weekend, with last year's winner Protektorat and King George VI Chase hero Bravemansgame the key players. Here we assess their claims, along with the other leading contenders.


Form 1123-2

Strengths Last season's standout British staying chaser, winning the King George by 14 lengths before finding only Galopin Des Champs too good in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He has clearly come out of his Wetherby run well and should strip fitter for that return. He was an impressive winner of his only start at Haydock and the prospect of drying ground is a positive.

Bravemansgame: on course for the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day
Bravemansgame: on course for the King George at Kempton on Boxing DayCredit: Alan Crowhurst (Getty Images)

Weaknesses Failed to justify odds-on favouritism in the Charlie Hall Chase, a race he won on his reappearance last year, making a mistake at the last and losing out to Gentlemansgame. This race is an afterthought, with the King George the big Christmas target, and any more rain would dampen enthusiasm.

Odds: 8-11f

What they say

Paul Nicholls, trainer: "Bryan [Drew, owner] is quite keen for us to run, so that's one reason [he was confirmed]. He's also come out of Wetherby very well and he'll take a step forward from that run the other day. He's older now, we've still got a month to Kempton and it's a valuable race. He's taken a large step forward and that run will have done him a lot of good. He hadn't been for a racecourse gallop, or anything like that, and I hadn't drilled him like [Paddy Power Gold Cup winner] Stage Star to have him ready for that particular race as we knew there were bigger targets down the road. He's high class and arguably should be favourite [for Saturday]. It's only because we've been negative and said we weren't sure we were going to go there. We're very happy with him and just hope the dry week forecast is forthcoming."

Bravemansgame15:00 Haydock
View Racecard
Jky: Daryl Jacob Tnr: Paul Nicholls


Form 4/145-

Strengths Was far too good for his rivals in this race last year on his reappearance, winning by 11 lengths, with an underperforming A Plus Tard pulled up after being sent off the 1-2 favourite. His record in completed starts first time out since joining Dan Skelton reads 2121 (beaten a head and three-quarters of a length in his two defeats), so he evidently goes well fresh. He is versatile regarding conditions, winning on ground described as good to soft and soft, while he finished second on both starts on heavy.

PROTEKTORAT ridden by Harry Skelton wins the BETFAIR CHASE (GRADE 1) at HAYDOCK PARK 19/11/22Photograph by Grossick Racing Photography 0771 046 1723
Protektorat: won this race last yearCredit: John Grossick (

Weaknesses Has a fair bit to find with Bravemansgame, who finished eight and a quarter lengths in front of him in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, and Shishkin on ratings.

Odds: 15-8

What they say

Dan Skelton, trainer"He's in good form and we've managed to get him up the grass gallop a couple of times, which is vitally important. His fitness is right where we want it and it doesn't hurt that there's been plenty of rain all over Britain. It'll suit him. He's a horse that doesn't completely empty the tank, but one you can train specifically for first time up. While we'll consider all options after, the Betfair Chase is his big target. We're not taking our eyes off it. By their own admission, the trainers of the other big two are looking at the King George, but I can say I've specifically trained the horse for this and I think we'll put up a good defence of our crown."

Protektorat15:00 Haydock
View Racecard
Jky: Tnr: Dan Skelton

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Corach Rambler

Form 5411-5

Strengths Thorough stayer who landed back-to-back Ultima Handicap Chases at the Cheltenham Festival, and the form of last season's victory was firmly franked when the runner-up Fastorslow got the better of Galopin Des Champs and Bravemansgame in the Punchestown Gold Cup. Followed up that success when justifying favouritism in Aintree's Grand National and deserves his chance in Graded company.

Noble Yeats and Sean Bowen give chase to Corach Rambler in the Grand National
Corach Rambler: justified favouritism in the Grand NationalCredit: John Grossick (

Weaknesses Looked laboured in the Edinburgh Gin Chase at Kelso on his reappearance and has a fair bit to find on ratings with the principals on this first try at Grade 1 level.

Odds: 10-1

Derek Fox, rider: "They got a lot of rain at Kelso and the ground was on the heavy side, which doesn't suit him. The combination of real heavy ground and the first run of the season, it just had a bit of a bearing on his fitness. As the ground dries out, it will suit, and as the season progresses I'm really looking forward to him. He only ever does enough, so for that reason alone he really deserves to go against open company and take his chance."

Corach Rambler15:00 Haydock
View Racecard
Jky: Derek Fox Tnr: Lucinda Russell

Royale Pagaille

Form 5/26F-

Strengths Goes particularly well at this track with three wins, including twice over course and distance. He also finished second to A Plus Tard in the 2021 Betfair Chase. Revels in testing conditions.

Royale Pagaille: won the first of two Peter Marsh Chases in 2021
Royale Pagaille: won the first of two Peter Marsh Chases in 2021Credit: John Grossick (

Weaknesses Has largely disappointed since winning a second Peter Marsh Chase in January 2022, with just two seconds (below-par in both) from his last six starts and fell when last seen. Has loads of ground to make up with Bravemansgame, who beat him 14 and 17 lengths in the King George and Gold Cup, and is the most exposed chaser in the field.

Odds: 10-1

What they say

Venetia Williams, trainer (in her Racing Post Stable Tour): "A lovely horse who is very genuine. It was a shame he fell in the Irish Grand National on his last start, because even though he wasn't in the front rank, the winner was behind him at the time. He'd had a bit of a rough passage to that point but he was fine afterwards. He has tended to collect wounds in his races, which has stopped him running as much as we'd have liked, but hopefully that's nothing more than bad luck. He'll have to try to win a third Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock in January and the Grand National will be considered in the spring. He's such a big, strong horse I've always got half an eye on some of the good handicaps because he can shoulder 12st without a bother. He has an entry in the Coral Gold Cup, so we'll see where he goes."

Royale Pagaille15:00 Haydock
View Racecard
Jky: Charlie Deutsch Tnr: Venetia Williams

Betfair Chase (3.00 Haydock, Saturday)

Betfair: 8-11 Bravemansgame, 15-8 Protektorat, 10 Corach Rambler, Royale Pagaille

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Read these next:

Confirmed runners and riders for the 2023 Betfair Chase at Haydock - plus a big-race tip and free bet 

Harry Cobden: I'm disappointed not to ride Bravemansgame but Paul knows what he's doing 

Who will win the 2023 Betfair Chase at Haydock based on previous trends? 

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Harry WilsonReporter

Published on 21 November 2023inBritain

Last updated 10:30, 23 November 2023