Cracking card lined up for Wetherby showpiece, with Long Run favoured (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Cracking card lined up for Wetherby showpiece, with Long Run favoured
TOMORROW a packed crowd is expected at Wetherby for their showcase race of the season, the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase.
This year’s race is the best I remember for quite a while, with former Gold Cup winner Long Run at the head of the betting for champion trainer Nicky Henderson and regular rider Sam Waley-Cohen.
While Long Run is respected it could be about another Sam, this time Sam Twiston-Davies, who comes in for the spare ride on the Paul Nichollstrained Unioniste as well as Tidal Bay in the West Yorkshire Hurdle.
With Daryl Jacob injured, it is no surprise Nicholls turned to Twiston-Davies who has made rapid progress. It’s hard to believe he only celebrated his 21st birthday a couple of weeks ago.
“Daryl is a bit sore, hopefully he’ll be back soon,” Twiston- Davies told me.
“Paul rang me at the start of the week to mention what the plan was going to be and I’m going down to school them both.
“Hopefully we get on well and we can have a good weekend, it’s a massive weekend for me. I’m very grateful to the owners and Chris Broad (agent) as well for getting me on.
“I’ve watched Unioniste plenty, usually because I’ve been finishing behind him – he looks a smashing horse.
“And I remember watching Tidal Bay when I was a kid, I always had a soft spot for him.”
Twiston-Davies has ridden three times for Nicholls before, without success, but that record maybe about to change.
Tomorrow’s card is not about one race – the West Yorkshire hurdle is a belter as last year’s winner Tidal Bay will have a serious opponent in At Fishers Cross.
Winner of Grade One races at the big Cheltenham and Aintree festivals earlier this year, At Fishers Cross finished last season unbeaten in six races over hurdles.
The Rebecca Curtis-trained six-year-old will be favourite to keep that run going while Across The Bay, last seen in action finishing 14th in the Grand National at Aintree in April, is another fascinating runner.
Donald McCain, trainer of the Grade 2 Rendlesham Hurdle winner, said: “Across The Bay needs to work later this week, but the bet365 Hurdle looks the obvious place to start him this season.
“It looks like it is going to be a hot race, but his first big target is the Becher Chase in December and I want to get a run into him before then. We will also be looking at the Grand National again.”
The total of nine, which featured in the re-opened race on Tuesday, also includes Trustan Times and Medinas.
The going at the track, which also stages the Grade 2 bet365 Charlie Hall Chase on the card, has been changed to good to soft.
The weather had it’s say this week with Redcar forced to abandon on Monday due to a waterlogged track.
That said, for Flat fans there has been plenty of all-weather action. James Bethell was on the mark with Bobs Her Uncle who took the opening handicap at Kempton on Wednesday evening under jockey Ted Durcan, who said afterwards: “Bobs Her Uncle loves that surface and this is her optimum trip. They went hard, which suited her, but she would have had a hard enough race.”
The curtain comes down on the turf Flat season next Saturday at Doncaster then it will be jumping all the way.
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