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Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Long Run to shine in Wetherby gem
Long Run, winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2011 and placed for the last two years in jump racing’s most prestigious steeplechase, can play a starring role in Wetherby’s showpiece event today.
The bet365 Charlie Hall Chase has attracted a small, but quality field and Long Run brings the best credentials, and the best rating, to the table.
Trained at Lambourn by Nicky Henderson, the classy eight-year-old won last season’s King George VI Chase and finished third to Bob’s Worth in the Gold Cup before going down narrowly to Sir Des Champs also in Grade 1 company at Punchestown.
Sam Waley-Cohen, son of owner Robert Waley-Cohen, is the regular rider of Long Run and has built up a good rapport with him. Hopes will be high the combination can notch another major success this afternoon.
It’s not a cakewalk, however. Harry Topper, winner of three of his five races over fences last season, together with Unioniste, who is four from six over the major obstacles, and Benefficient, winner of the Jewson Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, represent a large dollop of the cream of last season’s novices.
And then, of course, there is the local challenger, Cape Tribulation, a course winner, who went on to win the Grade 2 Argento Chase and finish fifth in last season’s Gold Cup for Malcolm Jefferson.
It would be great to see Cape Tribulation keep this handsome prize in the county, but he, along with the others, will need to raise their game to beat Long Run, who is fancied to carry off the Charlie Hall.
AP McCoy, closing in rapidly on his magical 4,000th career success, rides Benefficient in the Charlie Hall and also At Fishers Cross in the bet365 Hurdle, the other Grade 2 race on the card.
Trained by Rebecca Curtis for JP McManus, At Fishers Cross was unbeaten in six races last season and completed a Grade 1 double at Cheltenham and Aintree. He will be a very tough nut to crack.
Norton trainer John Quinn has good prospects of clinching the other main race, the OLG.com Mares’ Hurdle with Cockney Sparrow.
A smart performer last season when she gained a notable success at Aintree on Grand National day, Cockney Sparrow showed her well-being when scoring on the Flat at Ayr in September. She is napped to land this Listed event.
Also worth noting at Wetherby on their best day’s racing of the entire season, are two other McCoy mounts, Sixty Something (12.45) and Gone Too Far (1.15), two horses who look set to enjoy profitable campaigns.
Newmarket’s final meeting of the Flat season has attracted a sprinkling of North Yorkshire runners. The most likely winners from this neck of the woods are Mark Johnston’s in-form Hartnell (1.10) and the Richard Fahey-trained Personal Touch (4.00), a good second last time out.
Wetherby today 12.45 Sixty Something, 1.15 Gone Too Far, 1.50 Cockney Sparrow (NAP), 2.25 Valco De Touzaine, 3.00 At Fishers Cross, 3.35 Long Run, 4.05 Pas Trop Tard.
Newmarket today 12.10 Makruma, 12.40 True Match, 1.10 Hartnell, 1.45 Mutatis Mutandis, 2.20 Dance And Dance, 2.55 Nabucco, 3.30 French Navy, 4.00 Personal Touch.
Today’s other meetings: Ayr and Ascot.
Tomorrow’s meetings: Carlisle and Huntingdon.
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