There was significant rain forecast for Wetherby on Thursday evening and conditions are likely to be no better than good to soft ahead of their two-day Charlie Hall Chase meeting which begins this afternoon.
The 3m Novices’ Chase is a cracker but it is hard to get away from the chance of Ahoy Senor (2.05) last seen landing the Grade 1 Novice Hurdle at Aintree where he had the Paul Nicholls’ trained Bravemansgame back in second.
The selection – 4/6 at MansionBet – was taken out of a race at Carlisle on account of the good ground earlier in the month, but Lucinda Russell’s exciting stable star should have no problems with underfoot conditions today. A winner between the flags the 3m Novice Chase at Cheltenham is the long-term goal and he is taken to make a winning debut this afternoon.
Barbados Buck’s is not considered in the same class as Bravemansgame at Ditcheat, but he is a thorough stayer who has the size and scope to make his mark over fences this winter.
I would not want too much rain for Restandbethankful (2.40) in the two-mile handicap hurdle but good to soft would be ideal for Olly Murphy’s 5-y-old who ran a promising race at Chepstow on his reappearance when looking just in need of the run. The stable have hit top form in recent days and the selection – 9/4 with 10Bet – has been dropped 1lb in the weights since his seasonal debut.
Larch Hill is in the form of his life and looks sure to give a bold sight from the front in the two-mile handicap chase, but I hope to see a big run from Fontaine Collonges (4.25) on her chase debut. The mare – 7/2 with William Hill – was reported to have had a bad cold after scoring at Leicester over timber, but she starts life in handicap chases off what looks a fair mark and I stated earlier in the week that I felt the Venetia Williams’ yard were ready to strike.
The trainer suggested in a recent interview that she felt the mare would step up in distance in time but, if the forecast rain arrives, she can make a winning start over the larger obstacles.
In the 2m novices’ handicap chase at Uttoxeter I am looking forward to the chase debut of Minella Dream (2.48) who can give weight to his four rivals in a cracking little race. The selection finished runner up to Festival Bumper winner Sir Gerhard on his first start between the flags in his native Ireland and his novice hurdle campaign culminated with a second in the Aintree G1 Novice Hurdle over two-and-a- half miles behind the outstanding My Drogo on Dan Skelton.
The drop back to the minimum trip is not a concern on his chase debut and I hope to see Brian Hughes make plenty of use of Donald McCain’s 6-year-old. The selection is 9/4 with Boylesports.
There is a tremendous card at Down Royal where the Albert Bartlett winner Vanillier makes his chase debut for Gavin Cromwell over a trip just shy of 2m 4f. He looks sure to make his mark over fences, but this intermediate trip is ideal for Beacon Edge (3.30) who can make a winning start over the larger obstacles for Noel Meade.
The selection – 6/4 with 10Bet – travelled best until his stamina gave way in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham back in March, but he was beaten less than a length by Honeysuckle in the Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse at this trip back in November and he might have too much toe for the Cromwell horse on this occasion.