Weekend racing preview: Gold Cup winner A Plus Tard back in action

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There is a feast of thrilling National Hunt action for punters to enjoy this weekend with the likes of A Plus Tard and Constitution in action across Haydock and Ascot.

Haydock Park stages the racecourse’s biggest National Hunt card of the year on Saturday afternoon with the highlight being the G1 Betfair Chase.

Boasting a prize fund of £200,000, the extended three mile and one contest has been won by the likes of four-time champion Kauto Star and three-time scorer Bristol De Mai and five runners go to post for this year’s renewal.

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You can find the latest odds with the sponsor’s Betfair. Before racing, there is also a charity race taking place with six runners going to post for the Betfair Race to the World Cup Stakes. Six horses, named in the one-off event after countries competing in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, take part in a five-furlong event.

Jockey Rachael Blackmore celebrates on A Plus Tard after winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty ImagesJockey Rachael Blackmore celebrates on A Plus Tard after winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images
Jockey Rachael Blackmore celebrates on A Plus Tard after winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

The Betfair Chase has an off time of 3.00pm and is live on ITV Racing. The undoubted star of the show is A Plus Tard for Henry De Bromhead and ridden by Rachael Blackmore.

The eight-year-old was an emphatic winner of the 2021 running by 22 lengths, slamming his six rivals in a bewildering performance. Beaten a short-head by Galvin in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, A Plus Tard produced one of the great Gold Cup performances of recent times when powering to a 15-length success in Jump Racing’s Blue Riband event in March at the Cheltenham Festival.

De Bromhead’s stable star faces four rivals in the extended three miles and one furlong event, including three-time winner Bristol De Mai, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, who remarkably lines up in this contest for the sixth time. Ryanair Chase third Eldorado Allen remains unexposed over staying trips and runs for Joe Tizzard.

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King George hero Frodon, who returned to action with a cracking win in the Badger Ales Handicap Chase at Wincanton is another interesting rival.

However, the stiffest challenge looks set to come from Protektorat with Dan and Harry Skelton. Part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, the seven-year-old is already a Grade One scorer over fences and produced a seismic performance when landing the Many Clouds Chase last term. He went on to finish best of the British challenge when a fine third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, over 17 lengths behind A Plus Tard. However, he remains an unexposed chaser capable of further progression.

Over at Ascot, the unbeaten Constitution Hill is the star turn in the G2 Ascot Hurdle at 2.40pm. Nicky Henderson’s star was simply flawless in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle last term and looks set for a collision course with Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March. His first test of the season sees him take on four rivals over an extended two miles and three furlongs which includes Brewin’upastorm and Goshen.

Cheltenham Festival hero L’Homme Presse also returns to action in the G2 1965 Chase (2.05pm). Venetia Williams’ charge was a brilliant winner of the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, one of two G1 successes last term. This looks an excellent starting point and he should get the better of Dashel Drasher. The former Ascot Chase winner returned to action with a smart win over hurdles at Aintree last month and commands plenty of respect here. Pic D'Orhy impressed on his return at Newton Abbot in October and is another to strongly consider in this event.

ITV Racing selections

1.50pm Haydock - Hitman

2.05pm Ascot - L’Homme Presse

2.25pm Haydock - Good Risk At All

2.40pm Ascot - Constitution Hill

3.00pm Haydock - A Plus Tard

3.15pm Ascot - Edwardstone

3.35pm Haydock - Lord Du Mesnil

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