The Betfair Million series kicks off on Saturday at Haydock Park with the Lancashire Chase. £1m may be no more than a mildly pleasing bonus in the City these days, but Betfair’s inspired idea has proven to be quite a lure to the elite of National Hunt racing.
Kicking King is as short as 5/1 to collect to win the bonus, by scoring on Saturday and collecting again in the King George VI Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup. That price is too short given the fragility of thoroughbreds and the sometimes cruel toll jumping exacts on its participants (Best Mate RIP) but Kicking King would need to do no more than to run up to the standard of his races last year to win this comfortably.
Not that the bookies are taking any chance. He is odd-on for Saturday’s contest. Ollie Magern is second best in most lists and given the improvement he showed on already top class novice form when winning on his seasonal bow at Wetherby the market looks about right. Given Kicking King’s cramped odds the best way to play is a forecast.
Paul Nicholls has plenty of ammunition in Huntingdon’s feature, the Peterborough Chase. However, his horses may be worth taking on as the yard has yet to hits its strike. Impek may be a better bet. He has talent, but has been bordering on the eccentric in the past. His last run suggests he is maturing at last and it may be worth chancing this penitential sinner.
Aintree hosts the Totesport Becher Chase over the spectacular National fences on Sunday and with the bookies laying 6/1 the field it is well worth a bet. Rheindross won the Summer National pitted against some seasoned chasers at an unconsidered 25/1 and is likely to start at similarly long odds on Sunday. A repeat of that form is good enough for place money.
2:20 Haydock 1. Kicking King 2. Ollie Magern (forecast)
3:00 Huntingdon Impek (win)
2:50 Aintree (Sunday) Rheindross (each-way)