More staying power needed to win Betfair Chase as distance is increased

Cue Card will face a new challenge when he bids for a fourth Betfair Chase victory at Haydock on November 25 with the race distance having been increased by one and a half furlongs.

Since its inaugural running in 2005 the race has been contested over an official distance of 2m7f and 3m, from 2013, with Cue Card winning the prize three times in the last four years.

But concern among jockeys about the three-mile start's proximity to the bend has led Haydock to alter the race distance to 3m1f125y, which will result in the last fence being jumped three times.

Joe Tizzard said the change would make no difference to Cue Card, who won the Betfair Bowl at Aintree over 3m1f, while the new trip is a furlong shorter than the Gold Cup distance Sizing John won over in March.

Sizing John's trainer Jessica Harrington said: "What will be will be and the extra distance won't worry me. I don't see it being a problem for Sizing John seeing he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup over three and a quarter miles."

Nigel Twiston-Davies, who is set to saddle Bristol De Mai, a 9-4 chance with the sponsors behind 6-4 favourite Sizing John, said: "It'll be no problem for Bristol De Mai whatever they want to do. I'm not worried with him as he'll stay forever and he seems wonderful after the Charlie Hall."

Haydock clerk of the course Kirkland Tellwright said: "The feedback we got from jockeys in previous years was that the course might ride less sharp if you had a chance to get into a rhythm before you went into the first bend.

'The die was cast'

"Historically, the three-mile chase start was after the winning post, so you in effect started on the bend. Particularly if there is a big field if you were out wide you could see people pushing for a position and the die was cast by the time they got to the first fence.

"A number of riders said if they ran for a bit before they went into the first bend they would have hopefully sorted themselves into some sort of order. To do that they will end up jumping the last fence three times.

"The net effect, I hope, is that it will feel less as though they are running on a sharp track. It's added just over a furlong. If they find a rhythm I hope they won't say it's a hectic scramble."