Wetherby hosts the highlight of its year with the prestigious two-day bet365 Charlie Hall Chase Meeting on Friday, October 31 and Saturday, November 1.
The feature race is Saturday’s £90,000 Grade Two bet365 Charlie Hall Chase (3.30pm), which will be run over a distance of three miles and a furlong. The contest is the first major test for the leading staying chasers and has been won by some outstanding performers in recent times.
The mighty One Man was victorious in 1996 prior to success in the Grade One King George VI Chase at Kempton the following month. The Gordon Richards-trained gelding returned to Wetherby 12 months later to triumph once again and went on to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the 1998 Cheltenham Festival.
See More Business was another dual winner of the race, following up his Cheltenham Gold Cup success with victory here in 1999 before going on to King George VI Chase glory. He returned to Wetherby the following season to record an effortless 30-length triumph.
In 2006, Our Vic provided trainer David Pipe with his first big race success when beating subsequent Grade One winner Neptune Collonges, and the David Johnson-owned gelding has since gone on to victory at the highest level in the Ryanair Chase at this year’s Cheltenham Festival.
Ollie Magern returned to Wetherby last season to notch his second bet365 Charlie Hall Chase triumph following his initial success in 2005, and the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained gelding is on target to return this year to defend his crown.
The 10-year-old looks set to face another tough challenge this season as both State Of Play and Monkerhostin, who finished second and third in last year’s race, are likely to return to Wetherby to contest the race once again.
State Of Play, who won the Hennessy Gold Cup on his seasonal debut in 2006, went on to finish fifth behind Denman in the Grade One Lexus Chase at Leopardstown but disappointed on his two subsequent starts at Cheltenham and Aintree.
Trainer Evan Williams blames his exertions in Ireland for the gelding’s loss of form at the end of last season but reports his star chaser to be in rude health ahead of an intended appearance in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase.
Williams commented: “State Of Play will definitely be entered in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase. He’s in grand form and he had a great start to his season in the race last year. It was just unfortunate that I made a good job of messing up his campaign by taking him to Ireland for the Lexus Chase, because it took him an incredible amount of time to get over that race.
“We ran him at Aintree to make sure that he had a nice day out and went out to the fields with a happy experience under his belt, instead of finishing his season with a gruelling slog.
“He’s in great shape at the moment. He’s an absolute diamond of a little horse and it’s the best time to catch him first time out. He’ll be carrying six pounds less in the race this year after losing his penalty and I think we can go into the race with things slightly more in our favour this time round.”
Monkerhostin has also been pencilled in for his seasonal return in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase, having finished his last campaign with a brave victory in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown on the last day of the season in April.
Trainer Philip Hobbs hopes that the 11-year-old gelding, who finished fourth behind Kauto Star in the 2006 King George VI Chase and the 2007 Cheltenham Gold Cup, can build on that triumph on his favoured fast ground.
Hobbs said: “We will enter Monkerhostin in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase and there’s every chance that he could run in the race. There’s also a handicap chase at Ascot the same weekend and we will make up our minds nearer the time.
“He tends to go well fresh and he definitely wouldn’t mind good to firm ground at Wetherby. He ran well to finish third in the race last season and he enjoyed jumping round the fences there.”
The Saturday of the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase Meeting also includes the £42,500 Grade Two John Smith’s Hurdle (2.55pm), a three mile, one furlong race often contested by some of the season’s top staying hurdlers, and the extended two-mile £40,000 Listed bet365 Best Odds Guaranteed Mares’ Hurdle Race (2.20pm), which was won in thrilling fashion by Annie’s Answer last season.
Friday’s six-race card includes the extended two-mile £18,000 Listed Weatherbys Bank Wensleydale Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (2.10pm), and the Listed bet365.com Handicap Chase (2.45pm), run over an extended two miles, won last year by Wetherby specialist and subsequent Cheltenham Festival scorer Mister McGoldrick.
Tickets are on sale for both days racing and are available by calling the course on 01937 582035 or online at www.wetherbyracing.co.uk.
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