Wetherby’s bet365 Charlie Hall Meeting gets underway tomorrow, with an excellent six-race programme featuring two Listed prizes.
Popular grey Guitar Pete (Nicky Richards/Ryan Day (3), 10st 12lb) goes for back-to-back victories in the most valuable race on the card, the £30,000 Listed bet365 Handicap Chase (3.05pm, 10 runners) over just shy of two and half miles.
Guitar Pete impressed when taking this race by seven lengths in 2017 and two starts later enjoyed the biggest victory of his chasing career in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham. The eight-year-old had a run on the Flat recently at Ayr.
Top-weight Kylemore Lough (Harry Fry/Miss Aine O’Connor (5), 11st 12lb)) captured the Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse in 2016. He ran well off of his current mark of 151 when second at Warwick on his penultimate start in February.
Copain De Classe (Paul Nicholls/Harry Cobden, 10st 11lb) has a 6lb penalty following his 10-length victory in a handicap chase at Kempton Park, while fellow six-year-old Dingo Dollar (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson, 11st 9lb) is having his first start finishing second in a valuable novices’ handicap at Ayr in April.
Born Survivor (Dan Skelton/Harry Skelton, 11st) impressed when taking a two-mile novices’ chase at the bet365 Charlie Hall Meeting in 2017. Warwickshire-based Dan Skelton was the leading trainer at Wetherby last season, sending out 10 winners from 29 runners at a terrific strike rate of 34 per cent, and this season he has set a new record for the fastest 100 winners in Jump racing.
Pain Au Chocolat (Rebecca Menzies/Conor O’Farrell, 10st 13lb) has run some of his best races in defeat at Wetherby, including when going down by a head to Mercian Prince over this distance in February.
The seven-year-old, a four-time winner over fences, is having his first start since finishing down the field in Perth Gold Cup Handicap Chase in June, his first try over three miles.
Trainer Rebecca Menzies, who is based in Mordon, County Durham, said today: “This looks a good starting point for Pain Au Chocolat.
“He runs well at the track and will hopefully be back at Wetherby throughout the season for its 0-140 handicaps.
“The ground is a little bit of a concern tomorrow, as he seems to run his best races on softer ground.
“There is a race at Wetherby’s next meeting [on November 17] over two miles and that should be right up his street provided we have some rain between now and then.”
Local trainer Sue Smith, who took the Listed bet365 Handicap Chase in 2015 with Wakanda, saddles Cracking Find (Danny Cook, 10st 4lb) and Delusionofgrandeur (Sean Quinlan, 11st 1lb). The former stayed on to finish second in the two-mile 100% Racing UK Profits Back To Racing Handicap Chase at Wetherby’s opening fixture.
The field is completed by BetVictor Gold Cup hero Splash Of Ginge (Nigel Twiston-Davies/Sam Twiston-Davies, 11st 2lb), who used his fourth in this race as a stepping-stone to that victory last year, and 11-year-old Just Cameron (Micky Hammond/Joe Colliver, 11st 6lb), successful in the 188Bet Castleford Handicap Chase at The Yorkshire Christmas Meeting last season.
Leading Irish trainer Gordon Elliott and champion jump jockey Richard Johnson team up with Chief Justice in the £25,000 Listed Weatherbys Hamilton Wensleydale Juvenile Hurdle (2.30pm, eight runners) over two miles.
Owned by Cheveley Park Stud, Chief Justice is two from two over hurdles since joining Elliott from Richard Fahey, posting decisive five-length victories at Listowel in September and Gowran Park in October.
Cracker Factory (Daryl Jacob), owned by Simon Munir & Isaac Souede, lines up for Alan King, after winning three of his four hurdle starts. He finished second on his latest outing behind Jack Regan at Market Rasen.
The other hurdle winners in the field are both unbeaten. King D’Argent (Dan Skelton/Harry Skelton) made a winning start at Wetherby’s opening meeting last month in the Sue Jefferson Realise Possibilities Juvenile Hurdle, while Ormesher (Donald McCain/Brian Hughes) scored at Uttoxeter and Cartmel during the summer.
Elsewhere on the card, last season’s Challow Hurdle winner Poetic Rhythm (Fergal O’Brien/Paddy Brennan) faces five rivals in the Best Jumps Action On Racing UK Novices’ Chase (1.55pm) over three miles.