Saturday’s card at Haydock features the Betfair Chase. We’ll all be looking forward to that. However, there is one notable change on this year’s card. The Betfair Price Rush Hurdle has ever so quietly been axed.
This was the £100,000 two-mile conditions hurdle race first run in 2014. It created a clash with the Ascot Hurdle, run the same day, and with Newcastle’s Fighting Fifth Hurdle, due to take place the next week.
The Haydock race made no sense. There are only a small number of genuine Champion Hurdle contenders kicking around. Fields of just five, four and four took part in the race’s three runnings. The New One won the first one in 2014. In 2015 it went to Irvine, winner of the Fighting Fifth in 2014 and destined to win the Newcastle race again in 2016. Last year, Dan Skelton’s Ch’Tibello beat three rivals. Apart from the winners’ connections, those involved with Melodic Rendezvous were among the few beneficiaries. He finished placed in all three races.
The Fighting Fifth fared slightly better during those three years in terms of number of runners. Fields of six, seven and six took part. That’s not enough for each-way betting, but trial races such as this rarely attract more than eight runners. That’s just the way it is.
Was the Haydock race a warning shot?
Newcastle is an Arena Racing Company (ARC) course. Haydock is a Jockey Club Racecourses (JCR) track. Was introducing the Haydock race a move by JCR to ruffle a few feathers in the ARC camp? A flexing of muscles, perhaps? A symbolic sort of ‘we’re bigger than you are’ thing? Quite possibly.
Whatever the reason, well done to Haydock and JCR for seeing sense and pulling the plug on a race for which there was no need.
Also, the Fixed Brush Hurdle seems to be missing this year. That’s no great loss. And with a new distance for the Betfair Chase, Saturday’s Haydock card will be a touch different to last year’s.