Conti Can Deny Cue and Coney

Just when you think the weekend racing is getting good it goes and gets even better.

There’s a lot to look forward to this weekend again including Grade 1 action over fences at Haydock and hurdles at Punchestown.

Conti to Deny Cue and Coney
Coneygree won the Gold Cup of 2015 and Cue Card may well have won the 2016 renewal if he had stayed standing. Silviniaco Conti was never going to win a Gold Cup once it was run over 3m2f around Cheltenham but that said, he can win a third Betfair Chase tomorrow.

There’s £1m up for grabs for any horse that can win Saturday’s feature, the King George and the Gold Cup at Cheltenham but that bounty will be safe enough once Cue Card and Coneygree are overturned. And with Paul Nicholls in good form, Noel Fehily reporting the horse to be better than last season and conditions to suit, Silviniaco Conti can oblige at odds of 7/1.

Free Fall

The National was his last outing last season but that was never going to be his cup of tea and although he was beaten comprehensively in the at Down Royal earlier in the month, the track and softer ground at Haydock are going to make a massive difference.

Silviniaco Conti and Cue Card have exchanged the Betfair Chase for the last four years, with Paul Nicholls managing to win four of the eight renewals of the race and hopefully it will be Silviniaco Conti who enhances that record.

Fixed on Affaire
The Fixed Brush Hurdle has attracted 15 runners and it’s a shame for each-way punters that only three places are on offer but one that makes appeal at 12/1 is Affaire D’honneur.

The five-year-old is fitted with cheek-pieces for the first time but more importantly he is stepping up in trip to 2m6f having been well beaten last time over 2m1f at Fontwell.

Affaire D’honneur has only had five runs in Britain and the second of those was in the Betfair Hurdle earlier this year when he finished a creditable fourth.

It is fair to say that connections could have still been learning about him when he won at Fontwell on his seasonal debut also last month.

The Skeltons could have another handicap good thing with Two Taffs but his price is too short and is opposed by Harry Whittington’s charge in a race that could see Eoin Griffin’s Rathpatrick run well if returning to his Cheltenham form last March.

Magical Davy
At Punchestown tomorrow there is some real quality. It’ll be interesting to look back on this meeting in March and see how many Cheltenham Festival winners it produces but in Landofhopeandglory there is an obvious Triumph Hurdle hope and he’ll bid to enhance those claims in the first race.

Later in the card we’ll see the much anticipated Irish debut of Senewalk, a 10/1 shot for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Given the quality of opposition on show on Saturday, he may well be a lot shorter tomorrow evening if winning first time out so that may be worth considering.

The pick of the bets on the opening day of Punchestown’s Winter Festival is Call It Magic in the handicap chase.

It’s a trappy looking race but Ross O’Sullivan’s charge may still be a step ahead of the handicapper off a mark of 123.

The six-year-old has been a model of consistency and he relished the step up to 2m4f at Wexford last time having made his chasing debut behind Space Cadet over 2m previously. At around 6/1 he can make a winning start in handicap company for the locally based trainer.

Recommended Bets:
Call It Magic – 1.35 Punchestown
Affaire D’honneur – 2.25 Haydock
Silviniaco Conti – 3.00 Haydock

*Prices correct at time of publication.