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Wayward Prince On Course for Wetherby Return
21/12/11

The £40,000 Grade Three Betfair. Don’t Settle For Less Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase (1.40pm), the highlight of a six-race programme at Wetherby on Boxing Day, Monday, December 26, has received a tremendous entry of 21 horses.

As expected, last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup fifth Midnight Chase has been entered by trainer Neil Mulholland and the 161-rated nine-year-old will head the weights.

Wayward Prince
© Racehorse Photos

Wayward Prince

Wayward Prince was a high-class novice last season, when his three victories included a two-length defeat of the useful Cape Tribulation in the Grade Two Towton Novices’ Chase at Wetherby, run over the same three miles and a furlong distance of the Betfair. Don’t Settle For Less Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase.

Following his Wetherby success, Wayward Prince subsequently took a close third in the Grade One RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and fourth in a Grade One contest at Aintree. His one outing this season came in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on November 26, when he was never travelling and eventually pulled up.

Ian Williams, trainer of Wayward Prince, commented today: “The Betfair. Don’t Settle For Less Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase is a possibility for Wayward Prince at this stage.

“We think he suffered from an infection when he ran in the Hennessy and obviously we hope to have put things right with him now.

“He won a Grade Two at Wetherby last season and I will have to discuss whether we return there with his owners, Hilary and John Parrott.”

Nicky Henderson could be represented by Master Of The Hall, a Listed winner at Aintree last time out, while Paul Webber has entered Sarando, who fell at the 16th fence when still bang in contention in the Hennessy Gold Cup.

Owner/trainer John Wade has made an entry for last season’s Scottish Grand National third Always Right and the race has also been given as an option for Cappa Bleu, a winner last time out at Haydock for Welsh handler Evan Williams.

Other interesting contenders include Neptune Equester, who was a game winner last time out under top weight in a handicap chase at Haydock Park on November 19 and Lackamon, who has been in great form this season for local Bingley handler Sue Smith.

Halley was a Grade One winner in France on his penultimate start for trainer Tom George, while Helpston has caught the eye when winning on his last two starts in novice company, including when successful at Wetherby on October 29.

Knockara Beau
© racing-images.co.uk

Knockara Beau

Knockara Beau has been a stalwart of the George Charlton stable in recent seasons and took second in a Grade Three handicap chase at Cheltenham on his latest start, while two trainers who could be double-handed are Malcolm Jefferson (According To Pete and King Fontaine) and James Moffatt (Chief Dan George and Seize).

Completing the entries are Crescent Island, The Hollinwell, 2010 Scottish Grand National winner Merigo, Abbeybraney, Lockstown and Master Overseer.

The Betfair. Don’t Settle For Less Rowland Meyrick Handicap was first run in 1957 and boasts an outstanding roll of honour with subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winners Forgive’ N Forget (1984) and The Thinker (1986) among the winners.

Yahoo, famously runner-up to Desert Orchid in the 1989 Cheltenham Gold Cup, scored in 1987, while the Ferdy Murphy-trained Truckers Tavern, second to Best Mate in the 2003 Cheltenham Gold Cup, took the spoils in 2004. Champion trainer Paul Nicholls took the latest renewal in 2008 with Nozic.

The card at Wetherby on Boxing Day is sponsored in its entirety by Betfair and gets underway at 12.40pm with the Betfair Brings You Better Value Novices’ Handicap Chase (17 entries). Also on the card are the Check Betfair Before You Bet Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (1.15pm, 31 entries), the Better Prices On Betfair Mobile Handicap Hurdle (2.20pm, 18 entries), the Read Donald McCain’s Column On Betfair Handicap Chase (2.55pm, 19 entries) and the concluding Betfair. For Better Odds Handicap Hurdle (3.30pm, 31 entries).

This is the first year of an exciting two-year partnership with headline sponsor Welcome To Yorkshire. The Welcome To Yorkshire Christmas Meeting continues on Tuesday, December 27, when the highlight is the £16,000 Castleford Handicap Chase (2.20pm) over two miles.

A shuttle bus service will be in operation between Wetherby and the Racecourse before and after racing on both days of the meeting. The first bus will leave Wetherby at 11 am both days, with a service offered approximately every 20 minutes. Return journeys will commence at 3.40pm for approximately an hour and a half.

Gates open on both days at 10 am with complimentary mulled wine and mince pies for the 'early birds' on Boxing Day. As usual, accompanied children under 16 years of age are admitted free of charge into all enclosures. There is also a dedicated 'Parenting Room' in the Paddock Enclosure, with baby-changing facilities, microwave and comfy chairs.

Musical entertainment during the meeting will be provided by 'LA Jazz' and the Endeavour Ceilidh Band, while 'Musical Ruth' - the singing nun - will be giving a rendition on Boxing Day.

The team from Rigmoor Reindeer will be bringing a couple of reindeer to add to the attractions on Boxing Day, which also includes an array of trade stands. There will also be a free to enter on-course competition to win an Amazon Kindle.

Advance Badges and Tickets for both days of the meeting are still available to buy from either the Racecourse office or by visiting the website www.wetherbyracing.co.uk with 20% discounts for group bookings.

However, advance ticket sales will cease at midnight on Thursday, December 22, but tickets for all enclosures should be available to purchase on the day.

GROUND

The ground at Wetherby is currently: SOFT, GOOD TO SOFT IN PLACES

Wetherby’s Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course, Jonjo Sanderson, reported: “We had three millimetres of rain on Monday and there is a chance of a further shower towards the back end of the week.

The temperature has been around the 5C mark throughout Tuesday and this is set to rise to double figures for the remainder of the week, before dropping marginally for Christmas Day and Boxing Day, but we’re still looking at 7C or 8C - significantly warmer than 12 months ago!”

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