Confirmed runners and riders for the Betfair Chase and Coral Hurdle on Saturday | Horse Racing News

John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)

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A Plus Tard: The Gold Cup winner will face four rivals as he bids to retain his Betfair Chase crown

A Plus Tard: The Gold Cup winner will face four rivals as he bids to retain his Betfair Chase crown

John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)

By Charlie Huggins

Connections of A Plus Tard ended speculation he may not run in Saturday’s Betfair Chase (3.00), declaring the Gold Cup winner for the Haydock Grade 1 and stating “we’re green for go”.

A drift on Betfair overnight prompted doubts about his participation on social media, but Cheveley Park’s Chris Richardson was unequivocal last year’s runaway winner would defend his crown.

Richardson said: “I spoke to Henry this morning and we’re green for go. I know there is a lot of rain forecast but we’ll see how he goes. Henry’s very happy with him.

“We may as well follow the same program and hope that everything goes well. When I saw him about three weeks ago he looked in great shape so fingers crossed.”

A Plus Tard will face four rivals as he attempts to make it back-to-back wins in the race. The Henry de Bromhead-trained eight-year-old made a devastating seasonal reappearance in the £200,000 3m1½f chase last year, beating Royale Pagaille by 22 lengths before a similarly superb winning performance in the Gold Cup.

John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)

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Protektorat: among A Plus Tard's opposition at Haydock

Protektorat: among A Plus Tard’s opposition at Haydock

John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)

The Dan Skelton-trained Protektorat has 17 and a half lengths to find with A Plus Tard on their last meeting at Cheltenham in March but the Many Clouds winner should relish the likely soft conditions with rain forecast on Thursday and Friday.

Clerk of the course Kirkland Tellwright did not rule out the possibility of heavy appearing in the going description for Saturday’s fixture, with the Met Office issuing a yellow weather warning for parts of the north of England before the weekend.

“We’re expecting rain today and tomorrow and a better day on Saturday,” said Tellwright on Thursday morning. “It’s actually dry at the moment. We had 7mm overnight, we’ve had a bit since then and we’re going to get a bit more. We’re going to get rain but hopefully not the worst of that [weather warning].”

The chase course is soft and the hurdle course described as good to soft, with Tellwright adding: “I think the chase course will be predominantly soft, there’s a chance of heavy creeping in. The hurdle course is a bit quicker and will probably get soft .”

Bristol De Mai has won this event three times, twice on heavy ground, but the veteran was pulled up by Daryl Jacob in last year’s race, while Eldorado Allen has yet to score in Grade 1 company. Recent Badger Beers winner Frodon completes the field.

Barry Orr, spokesman for the race’s sponsor Betfair, said: “A Plus Tard hit around 8-11 on the Exchange on Wednesday and it was probably a mixture of weather watchers speculating about his participation if it came up heavy and money for Protektorat.

“All five stand their ground and A Plus Tard is 8-15 favorite to win back-to-back runnings of the race.

“Protektorat has shortened a little, 3-1 from 100-30, and Bristol De Mai, who is looking to emulate Kauto Star and win the race for a fourth time, is now 8-1 from 7-1.”

Betfair Chase runners and riders

A Plus Tard Rachael Blackmore
Bristol De Mai Daryl Jacob
Eldorado Allen Brendan Powell
Frodo Bryony Frost
Protectorate Harry Skelton

Betfair Chase, 3.00 Haydock, Saturday
Betfair: 8-15 A Plus Tard, 3 Protektorat, 8 Bristol De Mai, 16 Eldorado Allen, Frodon


Constitution Hill heads returning Cheltenham Festival heroes at Ascot

Stunning Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Constitution Hill will also take on four rivals for his seasonal reappearance in the Grade 2 Coral Hurdle at Ascot (2.40).

The Michael Buckley-owned five-year-old won by a cumulative 48 lengths in three starts over hurdles last season with top-level triumphs in the Tolworth Hurdle and at the Cheltenham Festival.

Constitution Hill’s trainer Nicky Henderson had been concerned about the prospect of good to firm featuring in the going description at the Berkshire track at the beginning of the week, but a deluge of rain has made it safe for the Champion Hurdle favorite to return.

Constitution Hill’s jockey Nico de Boinville has won the last two runnings of the £100,000 contest, including for Henderson on Buzz last year, and the Seven Barrows trainer was not concerned at the prospect of Constitution Hill stepping up to the 2m3½f trip.

He said: “He ran in a point-to-point so I don’t think the trip should worry him. The beauty with him is he’ll switch off. If he was a free-running horse I’d be scared to death but you know with this fella, he’ll just go to sleep for as long as Nico wants him to.”

Alan Crowhurst (Getty Images)

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Constitution Hill: returns at Ascot on Saturday

Constitution Hill: returns at Ascot on Saturday

Alan Crowhurst (Getty Images)

Henderson had been responsible for a third of the nine entries but took out Theater Glory and Call Me Lord, with Brewin’upastorm closest in the betting. The Olly Murphy-trained nine-year-old unseated Sean Bowen at the first hurdle of his seasonal reappearance at Aintree this month and reunites with Aidan Coleman.

Goshen returns to hurdling after a disappointing first go over fences at the track last month with outsiders For Pleasure and Uhtred completing the line-up.

L’Homme Presse and Edwardstone are other winners from this year’s Cheltenham Festival making their comeback, with the former heading five in the Grade 2 Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase (2.05). Arkle winner Edwardstone, who was pulled out of the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham last Sunday due to unsuitably fast ground, steps into handicap company over fences for the first time in the Jim Barry Wines Hurst Park Handicap Chase (3.15).

Coral Hurdle, 2.40 Ascot, Saturday
Coral: 2-7 Constitution Hill, 4 Brewin’upastorm, 9 Goshen, 66 For Pleasure, 80 Uhtred

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