Henry de Bromhead has confirmed A Plus Tard will make his return to the racetrack and defend the Betfair Chase at Haydock, writes Tom Masters.
Last year’s runaway winner will race for the first time since Cheltenham Gold Cup glory in March and starts his season on Saturday, with Rachael Blackmore in the saddle.
It was a mightily impressive victory for Blackmore and A Plus Tard 12 months ago, storming into a 22-length lead over Venetia Williams’ Royale Pagaille and living up to the 11/10 favourites tag they had with the bookies.
In a field of just five this time around, A Plus Tard is expected to go and repeat his success, backed in at 8/15 to do exactly that with the bookies.
Dan Skelton’s Protektorat, Bristol de Mai, Eldorardo Allen and 10-year-old Frodon complete an established card.
De Bromhead said: “He’s done plenty and we’re happy with him.
“When you’re only running these horses three or four times a year you want these runs to count, and we hope he’s as well as he was last year, so fingers crossed, he’s ready for a nice run.
“We’re looking forward to Saturday, he seems in great form and he’s working really well.
“Rachael (Blackmore) schooled him this morning and he jumped well so all seems good at the moment.
“Physically he looks an even stronger horse again, but we’ll see, and Saturday will tell us a lot."
A Plus Tard famously stormed to a 15-length win in the Gold Cup from Minella Indo, gaining revenge for the one-length defeat a year before.
Protektorat will race for the first time since undergoing wind surgery on October 26 and, despite his recent record against A Plus Tard, comes in as second favourite to avenge his lengthy defeat due in part to the likely soft ground.
Betfair Chase runners and riders – Haydock 3pm
A Plus Tard (Rachael Blackmore) 8/15
Protektorat (Harry Skelton) 9/4
Bristol De Mai (Daryl Jacob) 5/1
Eldorado Allen (Joe Tizzard) 14/1
Frodon (Paul Nicholls) 16/1