The jumps season is upon us and so is the first Grade 1 of the season. My bet in this race is a price dictated one, as it could slim down to not many runners at all.
Understandably, A Plus Tard heads the market after his Gold Cup romp and his facile success in this contest last campaign. However, that’s not to say he can’t be beaten as he failed to land the spoils on his seasonal debut in 2018, 2019 and 2020. If he turns up in the form of November 2021, he’ll obviously be extremely hard to beat, but that is far from certain.
Two leading novices from last season are next in the betting, L’Homme Presse and Ahoy Senor. But this race has been ruled out for the former and the latter is looking like contesting the Coral Gold Cup, so they would be notable absentees from the Betfair Chase. I’m then struggling to find horses that will run in the race, let alone have a chance of winning, so that essentially leaves Protektorat.
Dan Skelton has made a point of saying he’ll be ready for this, so I would imagine this has been earmarked from some way out and I’d expect him to be cherry ripe as they’ll know this could be a good time to bag another Grade 1 with him, with the likely limited competition.
Protektorat was soundly beaten in the Gold Cup by A Plus Tard and then again at Aintree in the Bowl, but the way he powered through the Many Clouds in December when cantering home by 25 lengths, he displayed he has plenty to offer as a stayer.
In a competitive year I’m not sure he’d win this, but this isn’t a competitive year in my view.
If A Plus Tard turns up in top form it’s likely game over, but with the circumstance of the race and therefore the price, this is an opportunity to take.
Recommended Bet: Alex recommended Protekorat as an ante post bet in Issue 96 @ 8/1