Huge ask for Roi Du Mee in vintage Betfair Chase
ROI DU MEE claimed some major scalps when stealing a shock Grade One victory at Down Royal last month, but tomorrow Gordon Elliott's improved eight-year-old faces an even more daunting task in a vintage Betfair Chase field that includes the Gold Cup hero Bobs Worth.
Elliott's fellow Co Meath native Jason Maguire is set to renew his association with Roi Du Mee in the three-mile Haydock Grade One, having won the Imperial Call Chase at Cork aboard him last March.
However, despite a flawless front-running display that saw him cruise to a facile 13-length rout over Sizing Europe and First Lieutenant in the north, the 13-time winner is as big as 20/1 to secure a first Irish-trained win in tomorrow's showpiece.
The frequent presence of iconic four-time victor Kauto Star helped to elevate the Betfair Chase's status among steeplechasing's elite contests since its inception just eight years ago, but few previous editions could match this year's for sheer depth of competition.
Tomorrow, Barry Geraghty will renew his prolific partnership with Nicky Henderson's Bobs Worth, a rare three-time Cheltenham Festival winner that landed the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on the first of only two starts last term.
Henderson's Gold Cup third Long Run will try to break his duck in the race at the third attempt having finished second the past two years, while Paul Nicholls' 2012 Betfair winner Silviniaco Conti lines out under Noel Fehily.
Nicholls also saddles the evergreen Tidal Bay, as Denis O'Regan is pencilled in to partner last year's Betfair third The Giant Bolster for a first time, with regular rider Tom Scudamore claimed for David Pipe's exciting grey Dynaste.
The eight-strong field is completed by Colin Tizzard's emphatic Ryanair Chase scorer Cue Card, which was vying with Dynaste for third place in the ante-post market last night at around 7/1.
Bobs Worth continues to shade favouritism for what has the makings of a real early season treat at a top-priced 9/4, with Silviniaco Conti next best at 5/2.
Sunday's €100,000 Ladbrokes Troytown Chase has been dealt a blow by the news that Liz Doyle is leaning towards giving the prestigious Navan three-mile handicap a skip with Rich Revival.
Successful in each of its first three starts last term before pulling up in the Irish Grand National, the late-maturing nine-year-old has a distinct preference for soft ground.
"It's looking more unlikely than likely he will run on Sunday," Wexford-based Doyle confirmed. "The ground has gone yielding and he has to have soft in it somewhere.
"There's no rain forecast and the race is not until Sunday, so, at the moment, he'd be highly unlikely to run. He is in (Aintree's) Becher Chase, but he is a soft-ground horse, so whether there will be enough cut in the ground in a couple of weeks' time for that I don't know.
"He's in good order and he always goes well fresh, so I just want to give him a crack at something good first time."
Meanwhile, Simenon will have to overcome a wide draw under Richard Hughes if he is to plunder a first Irish win for 30 years in Sunday's Japan Cup.
Willie Mullins' Melbourne Cup fourth has been drawn in stall 14, with Johnny Murtagh's Ed Dunlop-trained mount Joshua Tree due to break widest of all from stall 17.
Mikael Delzangles' globetrotting 2011 Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden is drawn 10 under Jamie Spencer, while the locally trained Ryan Moore-ridden Gentildonna will break from stall seven in his bid to record successive victories in the 12-furlong Tokyo Grade One.