The Betfair Chase is the first Grade 1 on the calendar for the Jumps season in Britain, and the race is always a stern test of stamina over the extended three miles and one furlong at Haydock Park.
Dan Skelton's Protektorat won the 2022 contest with Harry Skelton doing the steering, and now we have taken a look at the leading contenders for the 2023 race as the countdown to the Saturday showdown intensifies.
Only four runners have been confirmed for the race this year, but it is still a high-quality field, with five Grade 1 wins and a Grand National victory amassed between them.
Current Odds: 4/5
With Harry Cobden on riding duty at Ascot on Saturday, Daryl Jacob has been handed the dream ride aboard Bravemansgame, and the Gold Cup runner-up deserves to be at the head of the market.
Trainer Paul Nicholls stated conditions would need to be fairly dry for the eight-year-old to take his chance in the race, and connections will be pleased to see the forecast at Haydock is looking promising.
Bravemansgame was far from his best when second to Mouse Morris's Gentlemansgame in the Charlie Hall on his reappearance, a horse who was rated 18lb inferior to him on the day, though a poor jump at the last from the eventual runner-up offered some mitigation.
Jacob is no stranger to success in this race having secured three victories in the contest aboard Bristol De Mai, and if this horse can bounce back to near his best, he should prove difficult to beat.
Current Odds: 2/1
Last year’s victor Protektorat has had the race as his big target for a long time, and he will attempt to join horses like Kauto Star, Cue Card, Silviniaco Conti and Bristol De Mai as multiple winners of the race.
The eight-year-old returns from a 253-day absence at Haydock, where last year he produced the performance of his life when winning the Grade 1 showpiece by 11-lengths.
Protektorat is going to have to be as good as, if not even better than last year to repeat the feat, and there has to be some question marks raised due to the Skelton yard's poor form with some of their stable stars on seasonal reappearance.
One would also have to question how strong the form was when winning the race last year, as A Plus Tard, who was sent off the 1/2 favourite, was pulled up during the race.
Current Odds: 9/1
With form figures over fences at Haydock that read 1121, Royale Pagaille could outrun his odds for in-form trainer Venetia Williams, who has saddled a lot of winners already in November.
However, his record in Grade 1 races reads 625526, and he was beaten by a minimum of 14-lengths in each of those races, so he has to prove he can serve it up to true Grade 1 animals.
Despite finishing second, Royale Pagaille was left for dust in the race two years ago by A Plus Tard on decent ground, and with a dry couple of days forecast, that will probably weaken his chances of causing an upset.
He is still entitled to plenty of respect. He is a Peter Marsh winner off 163 and this is a track that he loves, while he also finished second to Bravemansgame on his reappearance in the King George last season.
Current Odds: 10/1
Corach Rambler is a dual Cheltenham Festival winner who put in a career-best when justifying favouritism to win the Grand National in April.
He is a horse who needs a lot of cover and large fields suit him, with his last three victories coming in fields of 39, 23 and 24. By contrast, the last three times he has run in fields with seven or less runners, he has been well beaten off.
Unlike two of his rivals, he arrives here with a run under his belt so fitness shouldn't be an issue as he was beaten first time out for the past three seasons.
Corach Rambler may have a progressive profile, but he is the one horse in the field who has the most to prove on official ratings, and even if he ran up to his new rating of 159, it may still fall well short of what's required.
This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.