Horses jumping a fence

22nd November 2013

Noel Fehily on Haydock Park, Silviniaco Conti & his Betfair Chase rivals

I’m having my best ever season and it will get even better if I can ride Silviniaco Conti to victory in Saturday’s Betfair Chase at Haydock Park.

This is a great ride to get from trainer Paul Nicholls and very exciting, but it’s the toughest of races this year.  It is going to be hugely competitive – probably the most competitive Betfair Chase in the race’s nine-year history.

I’ve ridden Silviniaco Conti three times over hurdles, and won on him twice.  I aim to make that three from four – and the first over steeple chase fences.  He’s a beautiful horse, he is suited by a flat galloping track and the slightly longer distance at Haydock Park this year won’t inconvenience him.  He’d still have won last year, even with an extra half furlong.

Which horse is my biggest threat in the £200,000 race on Saturday at 3pm?  No surprise when I say it is Bobs Worth, the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup winner.

My weighing room colleague Barry Geraghty’s mount is the one to beat.  Bobs Worth never wins his races by far.  That’s possibly why, in the past, he hasn’t always been well fancied, but that hasn’t stopped him winning most of his races – nine out of 12.

Bobs Worth isn’t Silviniaco Conti’s only big rival in this Grade 1 which is setting everyone’s pulse racing. David Pipe’s Dynaste is a racing machine.  He won at Kempton Park last Christmas and even when he was second at the Cheltenham Festival that was a lovely performance.  And, of course, he came on to Aintree at the Grand National meeting and won.

Long Run needs to return to form if he is going to win the Betfair Chase.  If he hadn’t disappointed a little in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby last time, he certainly wouldn’t be the price he is now for Haydock Park.  But he needs to come back to his best.

I am riding at Haydock Park on both Friday and Saturday and will be aiming to add to my tally of winners for the 2013/14 jumps season.  Earlier this week, I was on 69 winners and in second spot in the jump jockeys’ championship behind A P.

This has been my best for many years.  In fact, it’s the first time since 2009 that I haven’t had a bad injury.  That season I got 89 winners and was fourth in the championship, and I’m really hoping to go past that total this time.  Touch wood, I can stay clear of injury – that’s the main aim.

On Friday, I’m on Spirit Of Shankly in the Brown Shipley Wealth Well Managed “Fixed Brush” ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle at 3.05pm.  He was most recently second at Aintree and I’m really looking forward to riding him. Battle Born is my mount 35 minutes later in the Polyflor Expona Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.  I hope he can go well too.

On Saturday, I am also engaged in the £80,000 Betfair Cash Out “Fixed Brush” Handicap Hurdle on trainer Emma Lavelle’s Gullinbursti.  He could have a big chance after his impressive win at Market Rasen earlier this month.

Silviniaco Conti and Gullinbursti are my two main rides on Saturday.  I’ll settle for two victories! Looking further ahead, I could be on board Opening Batsman in the Hennessy Gold Cup next Saturday.  I think if he were to run a good race at Newbury, then he could turn into a horse for The Crabbie’s Grand National at Aintree in April.


Noel Fehily, second only to Tony McCoy this season among jump jockeys, is Haydock Park's guest columnist.