Wednesday, November 16, 2016 - Harry Whittington is hoping headgear and the return to handicap company will help Affaire D'Honneur in the £80,000 Grade Three Betfair Exchange "Fixed Brush" Handicap Hurdle (2.25pm, 2m 6f 177y) at Haydock Park on Saturday, November 19, day two of the Betfair Chase Weekend.
The five-year-old posted two good efforts in prestigious handicaps last season, finishing fourth in both the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury and the Imperial Cup at Sandown Park, but has not replicated that form in two starts at Fontwell this season.
He made hard work of winning a five-runner novices' hurdles on October 1 and was a well-beaten fifth behind Movewiththetimes in a similar contest on October 19.
Whittington, based just to the north of Lambourn, said today: "Affaire D'Honneur is an intended runner on Saturday providing Haydock gets a drop more rain.
"I have been very happy with him since Fontwell. Those two runs have told us that he is not suited by a small field novice hurdle. Hopefully, coming back into a big field handicap with a pair of cheekpieces will sharpen him up and help him travel better.
"He was dropped 5lb for his last run which gives us a chance if he comes back to the form he showed last season.
"It is worth stepping up in trip for a big pot like this. You can never be sure until they do it, but I don't see any reason why he won't stay. He relaxes well in his races and doesn't pull."
Affaire D'Honneur is a 16/1 chance with Betfair.
The market is headed by recent Carlisle victor Two Taffs (13/2, Dan Skelton) and Unowhatimeanharry (7/1), who is unbeaten in five starts for trainer Harry Fry and was last seen out capturing the G1 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Saturday's card also features the £209,000 G1 Betfair Chase (3.00pm, 10 confirmations) over three miles and £100,000 Betfair Price Rush Hurdle (1.50pm, five confirmations) over two miles.
The Betfair Chase promises to be a fantastic race with dual winner Cue Card (7/4 favourite, Colin Tizzard) taking on 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Coneygree (9/4, Mark Bradstock) and Silviniaco Conti (5/1, Paul Nicholls), another dual Betfair Chase winner.
The Betfair Chase is the first leg of The Jockey Club Chase Triple Crown. Any horse who wins the Betfair Chase and then goes on to land the G1 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day and the G1 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup on March 17 will earn a bonus of £1 million.
In addition, a special Kauto Star Trophy will be presented to connections of any horse that completes the Jockey Club Chase Triple Crown. The Kauto Star Trophy recognises the 10-year-anniversary of the great horse's achievement in becoming the first, and so far only, racehorse in history to win Britain's three Blue Riband staying chases in the same season (2006/7), which are each run at The Jockey Club's racecourses.
A two-minute film featuring interviews with Ruby Walsh and Paul Nicholls looking back on Kauto's Chase Triple Crown season, which can be viewed here on YouTube.
Betfair Exchange "Fixed Brush" Handicap Hurdle, Betfair bet:
13/2 Two Taffs; 7/1 Unowhatimeanharry; 8/1 Caid Du Berlais; 10/1 Born Survivor, If In Doubt, Mr Mix; 12/1 Westren Warrior; 14/1 Ibis Du Rheu; 16/1 Affaire DHonneur, Ballybolley, Kruzhlinin, Matorico, Point The Way, Theos Charm, Ubak, Yala Enki; 20/1 Fine Rightly, Fountains Windfall; 25/1 El Terremoto, Rathpatrick, Thomas Crapper, Western Cape; 33/1 Donnas Diamond, Fyrmyin, Island Heights, Killala Quay
EW Terms: 1/4 Odds - Four Places
Betfair Chase, Betfair bet: 7/4 Cue Card; 9/4 Coneygree; 5/1 Silviniaco Conti; 7/1 Seeyouatmidnight; 10/1 Irish Cavalier; 16/1 Menorah; 20/1 God's Own, Outlander; 33/1 Roi Des Francs; 66/1 Vezelay
EW Terms: 1/5 Odds - Three Places
Betfair Price Rush Hurdle, Betfair bet: 10/11 My Tent Or Yours, 5/2 Old Guard, 9/2 Irving, 7/1 Court Minstrel, 8/1 Ch'tibello, 10/1 Melodic Rendezvous
EW Terms: 1/4 Odds - Two Places