While there isn’t the £1 million bonus that was on offer for winning the Betfair Chase, the King George and the Cheltenham Gold in years gone by this season, there is the small matter of at least 150 Tote Ten To Follow points up for grabs.
The trio of races form part of the bonus races that players should form their stables around in order to maximise points scoring.
Should any horse land the national hunt ‘triple crown’ it’s unlikely that any player without said animal will be winning the top prize.
But can it be done? Could a player land a hat-trick of staying chase points bonanzas with one horse? We take a look at the potential candidates.
Tizzard’s star the obvious candidate
The Betfair Chase is the first bonus race of the whole competition, so it makes sense to start with last year’s winner, Lostintranslation.
Brilliant at Haydock 12 months ago, in truth, he looks the only horse whose entire season will be mapped around the three aforementioned races.
The likes of Clan Des Obeaux, Cyrname and Allaho are likely to wait until Christmas before they appear in a bonus race with the former already ruled out of a Gold Cup bid.
Colin Tizzard’s horse perhaps left his King George behind when dominating in the mud at Haydock last season, putting in a poor performance on Boxing Day, before bouncing back to be placed in the blue riband event at the Festival.
More will be expected of him this season, though whether he’s got it in him to land the three big staying chases remains to be seen.
Potentially the only other horse who might run in the Betfair before a King George and Gold Cup crack is recent Charlie Hall Chase runner-up Vinndication.
Kim Bailey stated after his fine run behind Cyrname that his chaser will “have entries in all the big races” and that the main event at the Festival would be his ultimate goal. The Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury, rather than going to Haydock remains an option to him for a slightly different hat-trick of wins.
Other routes to staying points bonanzas
The Ladbrokes Trophy, King George, Gold Cup path mightn’t be the traditional national hunt ‘triple crown’ route but that doesn’t matter to Ten To Follow players. With the Newbury race also a bonus race, there are extra points to be had there too.
As well as Vinndication, a couple of other horses could visit Berkshire before a Boxing Day Grade 1 outing.
Topofthegame was an excellent winner of the RSA Chase in 2019, but was not seen last season due to injury.
With that race providing the likes of Santini and Delta Work, it would be no surprise if he were dining from the top table later this season too. He looks set to head to Newbury on November 28th, win there and he’ll surely have loftier targets after.
There are a number of other horses open to improvement that could potentially take the Ladbrokes Trophy and have their season re-routed for a Gold Cup campaign.
The likes of Festival winners Imperial Aura and The Conditional have scoped to improve, while Copperhead looks as if he will develop into a nice animal over fences too.
Irish options provides plenty to consider
One big change with this season’s Ten To Follow competition is the addition of two Irish 3m chases as bonus races.
Delta Work claimed both the Savills Chase and the Irish Gold Cup last term, and looks likely to take the same route to Cheltenham this time around.
He was acceptable in his seasonal reappearance at Down Royal, looking as if he needed the run as he always seems to do.
Do what he did last year and win the two Grade 1s later in the season and he would no doubt be among the top five or six scoring horses in the competition.
He could be a shrewd pick for those paying special attention to the Irish racing, with another crack at the Gold Cup in March the obvious end goal.
Stablemate Presenting Percy ran a cracker for his new trainer at Down Royal and could be another who takes in the two Leopardstown contest prior to the Festival.
Add in Minella Indo and there are three Irish trained horses who could land a staying chase ‘triple crown’ of sorts and add over 150 points to the stables of their Ten To Follow owners.
The traditional triumvirate of big three mile chases in the UK mightn’t be a likely haul for any horse other than Lostintranslation, but that’s not to say he’s a must have in a Ten To Follow stable.
Shop around, consider the new Irish bonus races and it is entirely possible that players could find a horse that lands three, or even four of these big races.
Should that happen, and they that particular horse is likely to be a must-have for a stable to stand a chance of winning the five figure first prize.