King tops Betfair field

Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Kicking King heads the 11 entries for the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park on Saturday.

Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Kicking King heads the 11 entries for the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park on Saturday.

The three-mile Grade One contest is the first leg in the Betfair Million.

The £1m (€1.5m) bonus is offered to the horse who wins Saturday's race followed by the Stan James King George VI Chase at Sandown on Boxing Day and the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.

Kicking King, trained by Tom Taaffe, suffered a shock defeat at the hands of War Of Attrition at Punchestown last month and has been cut to 4-5 from 10-11 by Coral to win on Saturday and put himself in line for the bonus.

Coral have also slashed the odds to 5-1 from 8-1 that Kicking King wins the Betfair Chase and goes on to repeat last year's successes in both the King George and Cheltenham Gold Cup.

"We have been inundated with bets on Kicking King winning all three races," said Simon Clare, Coral spokesman.

Limerick trainer Michael Hourigan is leaning towards the race with his six-time Grade One winner Beef Or Salmon.

Ollie Magern, Kingscliff and Take The Stand, first, second and third respectively in the Bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, are all due to renew rivalry at the Merseyside venue.

In-form trainer Jonjo O'Neill is aiming Keen Leader at the Betfair Chase.

The nine-year-old only got as far as the fourth fence in the Charlie Hall but he has two wins over the stiff Haydock fences to his name.

Celestial Gold, who completed the Paddy Power-Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup double last season, is Martin Pipe's only entry while John Smith's Grand National runner-up Royal Auclair could represent his West Country rival Paul Nicholls.

Lord Transcend, impressive winner of the Peter Marsh Chase over course and distance last January, has been entered by Howard Johnson.

Grade One winner Hand Inn Hand could run for Henry Daly while the five-day entries are completed by Dr Philip Pritchard's lowly-rated Happy Hussar.

Betfair Chase betting:

Coral: 4-5 Kicking King, 9-2 Ollie Magern, 13-2 Beef Or Salmon, 9-1 Kingscliff, Celestial Gold, 10-1 Keen Leader, 16-1 Lord Transcend, Take The Stand, 25-1 Royal Auclair, 33-1 Hand Inn Hand, 500-1 Happy Hussar.

Bet365: 11-8 Kicking King, 9-2 Kingscliff, 11-2 Ollie Magern, 6-1 Beef Or Salmon, 8-1 Keen Leader, 10-1 Take The Stand, 16-1 Celestial Gold, 20-1 Royal Auclair, 25-1 Hand Inn Hand, 500-1 Happy Hussar.

Paddy Power: 10-11 Kicking King, 4-1 Ollie Magern, 7-1 Beef Or Salmon, 9-1 Kingscliff, Keen Leader, 12-1 Celestial Gold, 16-1 Lord Transcend, Take The Stand, 25-1 Royal Auclair, 33-1 Hand Inn Hand, 500-1 Happy Hussar.

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