Wetherby Racecourse Media Release - Black Corton and Elegant Escape joint-favourites as 12 entered for bet365 Charlie Hall Chase
Headlining the action on Saturday is the 100,000 pounds G2 bet365 Charlie Hall Chase (3.40pm) over three miles. The historic contest has been won by some top class chasers, none more so than Wayward Lad, Burrough Hill Lad, One Man, See More Business and more recently Cue Card.
The 12 entries this year include 2018 victor Definitly Red (Brian Ellison), who would become the first dual winner since Ollie Magern (2005 & 2007). Champion trainer Paul Nicholls is set to saddle last year's runner-up Black Corton, who was last seen out when second under top-weight in the Galway Plate in late July.
He is the 4/1 joint-favourite with bet365 alongside Welsh Grand National victor Elegant Escape (Colin Tizzard). Elegant Escape is aiming to give trainer Colin Tizzard a second bet365 Charlie Hall Chase, following the victory of Cue Card in 2015.
Having took second in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury earlier in the campaign, Elegant Escape followed up his Chepstow triumph by finishing second to Frodon in the G2 Cotswold Chase and a creditable sixth behind Al Boum Photo in the G1 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Joe Tizzard, assistant to his father, said: "Elegant Escape is in good form and the plan is to run in the Charlie Hall. "He has summered well. He seems to have strengthened up and we are really looking forward to getting him started.
"He is only a seven-year-old and hopefully he can progress into a Gold Cup horse. He wouldn't have to improve a lot to be a serious contender in a Gold Cup. "The Grand National is also a target, and after Wetherby, he could go for the Betfair Chase or Becher Chase."
Aso (Venetia Williams), who has yet to win beyond two miles and five furlongs, is top-rated among the entries with an official mark of 168. The nine-year-old posted a career-best on his latest start, going down just over a length to Frodon in a memorable G1 Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
Popular mare La Bague Au Roi (Warren Greatrex) enjoyed an excellent novice campaign over fences last season, which included a gutsy victory over Topofthegame in the G1 Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Kempton Park.
There is likely to be Irish-trained representation courtesy of Jett (Jessica Harrington). The eight-year-old relished the step up in trip on his latest start when defeating Alpha Des Obeaux by a short-head in the G3 Irish Daily Star Chase at Punchestown on October 16.
Another entry with race fitness on his side is Ballyoptic, after he impressively defied top-weight in a handicap chase at Chepstow on October 12. His trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies, with five victories, is the most successful trainer in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase.
Others to note are course scorer Top Ville Ben (Philip Kirby) and Vinndication (Kim Bailey), who were both high-class novices last season. bet365 Charlie Hall Chase - bet365 prices: 4/1 Black Corton, Elegant Escape; 5/1 Ballyoptic, Definitly Red, La Bague Au Roi; 6/1 Aso; 8/1 Vinndication; 12/1 Double Shuffle, Jett, Top Ville Ben, 14/1 Molly The Dolly; 25/1 Atlanta Blaze Multiple G1 winner Unowhatimeanharry (Harry Fry) is set to return in the 45,000 pounds G2 bet365 Hurdle (3.05pm) 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.
Fellow G1 scorers The Worlds End (Tom George) and Ballyandy (Nigel Twiston-Davies), plus G2 National Hunt Chase victor Le Breuil (Ben Pauling), also feature among the eight entries. bet365 Hurdle - bet365 prices: 6/4 Unowhatimeanharry; 5/2 Ballyandy; 7/2 The Worlds End; 7/1 Aye Right, Le Breuil; 8/1 Two Taffs; 10/1 Lord Napier; 20/1 Teescomponents Lad Classy mare Lady Buttons (Philip Kirby) could bid for back-to-back wins in the 22,500 pounds Listed bet365 Mares' Hurdle (1.55pm, 11 entries) over two miles.
Unbeaten four-year-olds Vision Du Puy (Dan Skelton) and Zambella (Nigel Twiston-Davies) are two other eye-catching entries. Wetherby's seven-race programme starts at 12.50pm and ends at 4.15pm.
The bet365 Charlie Hall Meeting starts on Friday, November 1, when the feature races are the 30,000 pounds bet365 Handicap Chase (3.05pm, 2m 3f 85y, 22 entries) and the 25,000 pounds Weatherbys Hamilton Wensleydale Juvenile Hurdle (2.30pm, 11 entries). Earlier on the card, G1 Stayer's Hurdle second Sam Spinner (Jeff O'Keeffe) is among 14 entries in the Best Jumps Action On Racing TV Novices' Chase (1.55pm) over three miles, after making a successful start to his chasing career at Wetherby on October 16.
The going at Wetherby is Soft, Good to Soft in places with the outlook dry and settled.