3 minute read
Jumps fans should be treated to a thrilling race between King George VI Chase winner Bravemansgame and Lucinda Russell’s Ahoy Senor in Saturday’s Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby.
Although the fixture appeared at risk due to water logging, Wetherby passed the 7am inspection on Saturday morning and will host an exciting seven-race card.
The Lucinda Russell-trained Ahoy Senor will be looking to get back to winning ways on seasonal reappearance, having finished second to Shishkin in the Aintree Bowl. A four-time winner over fences, the eight-year-old took the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham before falling in the Cheltenham Gold Cup when going well.
Derek Fox will retain his partnership with Ahoy Senor and is confident in his mount's abilities:
"I'm delighted I'm able to ride him, it's all systems go and we're looking forward to getting him out again.
"I've rode him out and we're all happy with him – he's in good form and all seems well.
"He might have needed it [the run] a bit last year. I actually don't think he ran that badly, he was just a bit free and got a bit tired.
"He's handled heavy ground before. Probably for the first day out for the season, ideally you wouldn't have it so heavy, but it's the same for them all and he handles any ground.
"We're going there hopeful that he's in good order at home and hoping he'll do well."
Bravemansgame will use the same tried and tested route as last year - the eight-year-old won the Charlie Hall Chase before success in the Grade 1 King George VI Chase at Kempton Park. Although trainer Paul Nicholls was leaning towards a run in the Betfair Chase, connections raised concerns about possible poor conditions at Haydock Park.
"He enjoyed an amazing time last season and I couldn't be happier with him as he bids to win the Charlie Hall for the second year running," said Nicholls in an interview with Betfair.
"I was leaning towards taking him to Haydock in three weeks' time for his seasonal debut in the Betfair Chase but changed my mind after all the rain we've had. The way things are at the moment conditions could be bottomless at Haydock by the end of the month which would be far from ideal for Bravemansgame over almost three and a quarter miles first time out.
"It makes sense to go for the Charlie Hall with only three opponents declared against him. He won this race easily a year ago and the race comes at the right time for him ahead of the King George VI Chase at Kempton."
The pair will be joined by Grade 2 Gowran Park Champion Chase second Gentlesmangame and four-time chase winner Midnight River.
Bravemansgame is the current 8/11 favourite for Saturday's feature at Wetherby.