Regular readers will know all about Paddy’s £/€1 million giveaway after his Millionaire Chase at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
But, if you’re just joining the party, this Saturday’s 3pm at Newbury is even more significant than usual as it is the third of six qualifying races for punters to be able to scoop his loot.
To be in with a shout just opt in on Paddy’s app or paddypower.com and then on those platforms place a winning bet of a minimum £/€5 on Saturday’s designated contest or one of the three later qualifying races.
If you find the winner you’ll go into a random draw on Monday and if selected, you’ll be guaranteed a consolation £/€10k on your assigned horse in the Millionaire Chase but should that horse prevail you’ll pocket the cool million.
So, the pressure is on this column to come up with the goods and while Kim Bailey’s Vinndication is a worthy favourite having finished runner-up to Cyrname last time in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, he’s got a lot of weight to carry and preference is for Colin Tizzard’s Copperhead (9/1) .
The Milborne Port magician knows exactly what it takes to land this prestigious event having captured it twice in the last four seasons courtesy of Native River in 2016 and Sizing Tennessee two years later.
The selection was brilliant when landing the Mandarin Handicap Chase over course and distance in December and he then stepped up a level with an impressive victory in the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot in February.
That left him a leading contender for the championship RSA Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival the following month, but despite being sent off at just 6-1, for whatever reason, he failed to fire and he was beaten when suffering a tired tumble at the last.
He also failed to finish on his seasonal debut at Wetherby last month, but not too much should be read into that as connections were trying to take advantage of a more lenient hurdle mark and while it didn’t come off as he was a bit clumsy four out, that outing would have been designed to put him cherry ripe for this.
Copperhead has never been beaten when competing over 3m 1f or further and a 17-length winner of the Reynoldstown makes him a truly legitimate contender for a race of this nature.
One horse who ran at Newbury last year was subsequent Champion Hurdle heroine Epatante (4/6) and she must have been some certainty off a mark of 137 in an intermediate hurdle!
This year she lines up in the Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle (2.05pm) at Newcastle and she’ll be very hard to beat as not only is she top-rated, but she also benefits from a 7lb mares’ allowance.
She’s a marvellous jumper of timber and although she’s never ran at the north-east venue it shouldn’t be a problem and Seven Barrows sorcerer Nicky Henderson’s charge has won first time out the last two seasons.