|Grade 1, Haydock Park
3m 24y, Class 1
|Saturday 25th November 2017|
Sizing John stars among 11 entries for the Betfair Chase
Jessica Harrington's Sizing John won the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown and the Punchestown Gold Cup either side of his Cheltenham Gold Cup in March to confirm himself the undisputed top dog in the staying chase division last season.
Harrington has confirmed he will make his reappearance on Merseyside with a view to having a crack at the Jockey Club Triple Crown. A £1million bonus is on offer for any horse who can win the Betfair Chase, the King George at Kempton and the Gold Cup at Cheltenham.
The Colin Tizzard-trained Cue Card has won the Betfair Chase in three of the last four years, leaving him just one victory short of the record set by the brilliant Kauto Star.
The 11-year-old has not had the ideal preparation, having fallen in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on November 4.
But, having returned home from West Yorkshire unscathed, the trainer's son and assistant Joe Tizzard is hoping he can produce another "demolition job" at Haydock.
Speaking at a press conference prior to racing at Exeter on Tuesday, November 7, Tizzard said: " He has come out of it fine, to be honest. It was a nervous time on Sunday morning.
"Even when he has a hard race or a hard fall, he is the first horse you see when you drive into the yard in the morning, with his ears pricked over the door.
"He had a canter on Monday morning and he had a canter this morning."
Cue Card's Wetherby exit was very similar to the falls he has taken in the last two renewals of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but connections are confident he will bounce back.
Tizzard added: " I was at Ascot on Saturday and I don't think any of us connected to the horse wanted to see him hitting the deck for a third time. All three times he has guessed at them. He hasn't put down or hit the top.
"He has perhaps got a bit of a doubt, but there is no way of schooling for that scenario. You can't put Cue Card in a championship race over two and three-quarter miles, doing 30mph with horses all around him (at home).
"In my opinion, he was working into the race really well and if he had gone and won at Wetherby or finished close you would be very bullish going back to Haydock.
"The track suits him well and we have seen him do some serious demolition jobs there. He bounced back at Aintree after the first Gold Cup and bounced back at Aintree last year, although he got beaten.
"As long as this fall doesn't have any ill effects on him, there is no reason why he can't run a huge race again."
Charlie Hall hero Bristol De Mai is set to represent Nigel Twiston-Davies, who also has one eye on winning the big bonus.
The Naunton handler said: "He was really good on the day at Wetherby and I was delighted with him.
"Sizing John could just need the run (at Haydock) and he might just have that advantage over him, but I've no idea what Sizing John has been doing at home.
"If he was to win he would go for the King George, the Triple Crown would have to be on your mind - a £1m bonus has got to be on anyone's mind."
Gordon Elliott's JNwine.com Champion Chase winner Outlander could join Sizing John from Ireland, while Nicky Henderson is happy to bypass this with Might Bite in favour of being ready for Kempton at Christmas.
Betfair Chase (registered as the Lancashire Chase)
£200,000 added, 5yo plus, 3m 24y, Class 1
Five-day confirmation & £10,000 supplementary entry stage November 20, final declaration stage, 10.00am, November 23.