The Betfair Chase has grown into a key trial for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham in recent years and we look to have a stellar entry for the race this season. The Haydock race offers punters some great early season clues ahead of the big race at the Festival in March and this years field looks set to be headed by the excellent Long Run. The Nicky Henderson trained in-mate won the Gold Cup in 2011 and he will start the Betfair as a strong favourite to start the season with a bang. Last year didn't live up to expectations for Long Run but he still managed to finish second in the Betfair and the King George Chase behind Kauto Star and given the fact he is still only seven he could still have plenty of improvement in him. Connections have been bullish about his form over the past few weeks and a good run in the Betfair Chase will consolidate his position as one of the ante-post favourites for the Gold cup at the Festival.
Potential opponents for Long Run at Haydock include the likes of Silviniaco Conti who won the Charlie Hall Chase in style recently and Imperial Commander who was the Gold Cup winner back in 2010. Silviniaco Conti is a particularly interesting runner for champion trainer Paul Nicholls, he looks a highly progressive sort who is something of an unknown quantity at this level making him a fascinating prospect. Nicholls also decided to enter former Supreme Novices Hurdle winner Al Ferof in the race as he looks to find a successor to the recently retired Kauto Star who won the Betfair Chase on no less than four occasions during his remarkable career. That only serves to highlight the importance of the Haydock race on the road to Cheltenham and this year it could prove to be one of the best renewals yet with any number of potential Gold Cup horses set to face off against each other.