Wetherby Racecourse Media Release - La Bague Au Roi favourite as seven declared for bet365 Charlie Hall Chase
The bet365 Charlie Hall Chase is the first major staying chase of the British season and the three-mile showpiece has a roll of honour featuring the likes of Wayward Lad, Burrough Hill Lad, One Man, See More Business and Cue Card. La Bague Au Roi (Warren Greatrex/Richard Johnson) took her form to a new level over fences last season, winning four of her five starts including the G1 Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Kempton Park and the G1 Flogas Novice Chase at Leopardstown, Ireland. She is the 5/2 favourite with bet365 and would become the first mare to win the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase since Goolagong in 1977.
The 2018 victor Definitly Red (Brian Ellison/Danny Cook, 7/2 with bet365) lines up in his third successive bet365 Charlie Hall Chase. The 10-year-old, who also finished third behind Bristol De Mai in 2017, had a racecourse gallop at Wetherby last month.
Trainer Brian Ellison said: "Definitly Red has been a great horse for us and seems to have summered really well.
"He has had two racecourse gallops, which went well, and he is very fit - he really enjoys his work and has schooled great. "It would be great to win the race for the second year in a row and we are looking forward to seeing how gets on.
"This is his first target and then he might go to Aintree again."
Aso (Venetia Williams/Charlie Deutsch, 7/1), who has yet to win beyond two miles and five furlongs, is top-rated with an official mark of 168.
The nine-year-old posted a career-best on his latest start, going down by just over a length to Frodon in a memorable G1 Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Colin Tizzard is represented by last season's Welsh Grand National hero Elegant Escape (Tom O'Brien, 9/2), who drops back in trip slightly after running over further for much of last season.
Following his Chepstow triumph, he took second in the G2 Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham and sixth in the G1 Cheltenham Gold Cup. Nigel Twiston-Davies, with five victories, is the most successful trainer in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase.
His contender Ballyoptic (Sam Twiston-Davies, 6/1) has race fitness on his side, after he impressively defied top-weight in a handicap chase at Chepstow on October 12. Local runner Top Ville Ben (Phil Kirby/Sean Quinlan, 8/1) won twice over fences at Wetherby last season before ending the campaign with a creditable third in the G1 Mildmay Novices' Chase at Aintree. Completing the seven runners is progressive mare Molly The Dolly (Dan Skelton/Harry Skelton, 14/1).
The eight-year-old won three of her four starts last season, signing off with a valuable novices' handicap chase success at Ayr in April. bet365 Charlie Hall Chase - bet365 prices: 5/2 La Bague Au Roi; 7/2 Definitly Red; 9/2 Elegant Escape; 6/1 Ballyoptic; 7/1 Aso; 8/1 Top Ville Ben; 14/1 Molly The Dolly Multiple G1-winning hurdler Unowhatimeanharry (Harry Fry/Aidan Coleman) faces six rivals in the 45,000 pounds G2 bet365 Hurdle over three miles.
The 11-year-old had an in and out campaign last season before bouncing back with a decisive victory in the G1 Champion Stayers Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival in May. Unowhatimeanharry is the 2/1 joint-favourite with bet365 alongside Ballyandy (Nigel Twiston-Davies/Sam Twiston-Davies), who ended last season with a close third in the G3 Coral Cup at Cheltenham. The Worlds End (Tom George/Adrian Heskin, 4/1), a G1 winner over hurdles at Aintree in 2017, and this year's G2 National Hunt Chase victor Le Breuil (Ben Pauling/Richard Johnson, 8/1) also run. bet365 Hurdle - bet365 prices: 2/1 Ballyandy, Unowhatimeanharry; 4/1 The Worlds End; 8/1 Le Breuil; 12/1 Lord Napier; 14/1 Two Taffs; 40/1 Teescomponents Lad Versatile mare Lady Buttons (Philip Kirby/Adam Nicol, 13/8 favourite) bids for back-to-back victories in the 22,500 pounds bet365 Mares' Hurdle (1.55pm, eight runners) over two miles.
Unbeaten four-year-olds Vision Du Puy (Dan Skelton/Harry Skelton, 100/30) and Zambella (Nigel Twiston-Davies/Sam Twiston-Davies, 9/2) also line up, as does Indefatigable (Paul Webber/Gavin Sheehan, 9/2), who was a classy novice last season. Bet365 Mares' Hurdle - bet365 prices: 13/8 Lady Buttons; 100/30 Vision Du Puy; 9/2 Indefatigable, Zambella; 12/1 Diamond Gait; 20/1 Smaoineamh Alainn; 25/1 Hijran; 33/1 Aweeminit Each-way 1/5 1,2,3 Elsewhere on the card, high-class prospect Thebannerkingrebel (Jamie Snowden/Gavin Sheehan) bids for his third straight win over hurdles in the bet365 Novices' Hurdle (2.30pm) over two miles. Talented Flat recruit Proschema (Dan Skelton/Harry Skelton) and Old Jeroboam (Charlie Longsdon/Aidan Coleman), who is unbeaten in three starts, are among the opposition.
The seven-race programme starts at 12.50pm and ends at 4.10pm. The going at Wetherby is Soft, Good to Soft in places, with a further chance of showers up until racing tomorrow. Tickets for day two of the bet365 Charlie Hall Meeting can be purchased here: https://www.wetherbyracing.co.uk/ The bet365 Charlie Hall Meeting begins today with a six-race card starting at 1.20pm.