HEY BIG SPENDER will look to bag a big pot when making his first appearance of the season in the £40,000 Rowland Meyrick Chase on Boxing Day at Wetherby Racecourse.
The nine-year-old, trained by Colin Tizzard, was last seen shouldering top weight to victory in a Grade 3 chase at Warwick in January when conceding upwards of 13lbs to his 12 rivals.
Having also won a Listed chase at Newcastle under a welter burden the previous November, big things were expected of the tough competitor before a small injury meant he has been off the track since February.
Now Wetherby’s Grade 3 contest, the showpiece of the two-day Christmas meeting at the West Yorkshire track, is firmly on the radar of Hey Big Spender.
“We are looking at the Rowland Meyrick Chase,” said Tizzard. “He did some fast work last week and Wetherby should be his first race. He picked up a small injury in February and he came back in a bit later than the others.
“He was getting better and better last season and his win at Warwick was probably a career best performance.”
The Rowland Meyrick Chase, run over three miles and one furlong, has been staged since 1957 and has a roll of honour that includes Cheltenham Gold Cup winners Forgive ‘N Forget and The Thinker.
The Ferdy Murphy-trained Truckers Tavern, second to Best Mate in the 2003 Gold Cup, took the spoils in 2004. Last year’s contest was won by 33-1 shot According To Pete – the Malcolm Jefferson-trained gelding who sadly died at the Grand National in April.
With the initial list of entries expected to be released tomorrow, another in the mix to compete is the David Pipe-trained Junior.
The nine-year-old, owned by Middleham Park Racing, has taken decent prizes over both hurdles and fences and stayed on strongly to win the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle at the start of this month.
Jonjo Sanderson, Wetherby chief executive and clerk of the course, said of the contest: “It is a very good race and it is always bound to throw up a very good winner. You don’t get to the race without being a very good horse.
“The support card for the day is also very good. We have another £10,000 chase and, overall, there will hopefully be six very good races.”