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Saturday Tips – Betfair Chase & Vautour to be beaten on comeback?

Remember when Christmas revolved around getting the present your heart desired? You couldn’t sleep.

Nothing else mattered in the world apart from Christmas morning. Well, the staying chase division is giving me similar vibes this season – it truly is a gift.

Unfortunately what we have to unwrap this Saturday at Haydock feels a tad underwhelming. We wanted a Playstation and have tore open a shit sandwich.

The Betfair Chase is the first major race for a vintage crop of staying chasers and none of the first 10 in the betting for the Cheltenham Gold Cup are running.

Just five or six will go to post and although the match-up between Cue Card and Silviniaco Conti is an intriguing duel, it’s a race that is unlikely to produce much thrill or any subsequent movement in the ante post markets for Cheltenham.

If you pushed me for a tip, I’d go with Silviniaco Conti as he’s more likely to relish the deep ground. But let’s move on.

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At Ascot, we are likely to see a genuine Cheltenham contender strut his stuff. That’s where my betting focus lies.

Vautour is trekking over from Ireland to make his seasonal debut in the Amlin Chase. He is a fascinating, and potentially, top-class chaser. Willie Mullins’ charge currently heads the betting for the Gold Cup and is widely expected to make a winning reappearance.

But at the advertised prices, I’m very keen to take him on.

Some may call that madness considering what he produced in the JLT Novice Chase at at Cheltenham, but news flash, this isn’t Cheltenham and his profile away from HQ is a little bit sketchy, exemplified by his tame performance at Leopardstown on Boxing Day where he jumped poorly and was subsequently hammered by Clarcam.

Of course, class should get him through this encounter but when taking short odds-on prices you don’t want any nagging doubt and this horse has them.

I’d much rather back O’Faolains Boy, who is a very interesting contender even in such a vintage year of three mile chasers.

Rebecca Curtis’ charge landed the 2014 RSA Chase – a fantastic pointer to a potential Gold Cup winner – but missed last season due to various injuries.

The word from Curtis’ stable this year is that the horse is fighting fit and ready for a campaign that will ultimately end with all the big three mile chases, including the Gold Cup.

He was richly impressive when winning the RSA Chase. Although the runner-up Smad Place has let the form down slightly – the front pair pulled nicely clear of those in behind to give the impression that both are chasers of the highest order.

I got the feeling that Alan King was never really happy with Smad Place last season and he also might surprise a few this season with his performances.

Granted, this trip is on the short side for this dour stayer but he’s won at the track before and with the ground being soft it could turn into a bit of a slug-fest if there is a strong pace.

He looks overpriced.

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