Bet365 Charlie Hall Chase
|Grade 3 Handicap, Wetherby 15:20
3m 45y, Class 1
|Saturday 29th October 2016|
1 Irish Cavalier 16/1
2 Menorah 12/1
3 Cue Card 8/11F
7 ran Distances: ¾l, 2½l, 5l
TIME 5m 59.70s (slow by 2.70s)
Irish Cavalier surprise winner of the Charlie Hall
When Paddy Brennan sent the favourite to the front on the final circuit, all looked to be going to plan for the odds-on favourite, as his mount produced some thrilling leaps.
But he was never really able to shake off the chasing pack and three from home, Irish Cavalier, a 16/1 chance, drew alongside.
Cue Card dug admirably for his rider under pressure from that point and briefly appeared to be back in front heading to the final flight, but he was starting to tire at that point, and Irish Cavalier's biggest challenger suddenly became the rallying Menorah, winner of this race two years ago.
Irish jockey Jonathan Moore, only recently having begun a new role as stable jockey to trainer Rebecca Curtis, asked Irish Cavalier for everything, and his mount delivered, holding off Menorah by three-quarters of a length.
"We went a real, strong gallop from the word go and my lad was a little bit on his head, but on the second circuit he started getting into a rhythm and winging his fences," said Moore.
"I didn't want to go there too soon and use him up, so I tried to keep him on Cue Card's heels and he just took me there. Four out, three out, he was absolutely awesome."
Curtis added: "I thought he'd run well, but I didn't think he'd win. He's still only seven and he obviously gets three miles. He's improving every season.
"There were a couple of blips last year, but they were when our horses were wrong - he did win at Punchestown.
"He thrives on his racing, the season before he ran twice at the Punchestown Festival."
Assessing plans, Curtis said: "It's possible he could run in the Betfair (Chase, Haydock on November 10), we have to start thinking of all the top three-mile races now.
"The more you race him, the better he is."
She added: "I'm pleased for Johnny. One thing I promised him when he came was that he'd ride them all, Grade Ones and handicappers."
Of the evergreen Menorah, trainer Philip Hobbs said: "He just met a couple of fences wrong in the straight and that might have cost him.
"Take nothing away from the winner, but we'd have been closer without the mistakes. If the ground stays as it is there are some obvious races for him."
Colin Tizzard, meanwhile, insisted he was not too disheartened by the eclipse of Cue Card in his bid to win the race for the second year running.
"He just got tired, that's all," said Tizzard. "I thought he was going to win, but he tired after the second-last.
"We took him for a racecourse gallop because if we hadn't, I didn't want to wish that I had done.
"He's only been beaten two lengths, so we'll go to Haydock (Betfair Chase) and see where we are at. I'd sooner he had won, but I'm delighted with him."
Bookmakers eased Cue Card from 11/8 to 2/1 for the Betfair Chase on the back of the defeat, with Coneygree clipped half a point to 7/2 despite staying in his box.
Spokesman Michael Shinners commented: "Cue Card may have had to settle for defeat, but he remains a deserving favourite for the Betfair Chase, having shown plenty of his old spark at Wetherby. It will be fascinating to see how the picture for the race develops if, say, Vautour or Djakadam gets the go-ahead to take him on."
Bet365 Charlie Hall Chase
£100,000 added, 5yo plus, 3m 45y, Class 1
|Pos||D||Horse SP||Jockey Weight||Trainer||Age|
|1st||Irish Cavalier (IRE) 16/1||Jonathan Moore
|Miss R Curtis||7|
|2nd||¾||Menorah (IRE) 12/1||R Johnson
|P J Hobbs||11|
|3rd||2½||Cue Card 8/11f||P J Brennan
|C L Tizzard||10|
|4th||5||Blaklion 7/2||Ryan Hatch
|N A Twiston-Davies||7|
|5th||4||Virak (FR) 10/1||Sean Bowen
|P F Nicholls||7|
|6th||½||Dynaste (FR) 10/1||T Scudamore
|7th||38||Wakanda (IRE) 33/1||Danny Cook
|Mrs S J Smith||7|