The Bet365 Charlie Hall Chase is the Wetherby feature and a terrific renewal of a race that lost much of its sparkle in recent years but this is a cracker with one of last year’s leading novices Time For Rupert locking horns with last year’s Hennessy winner Diamond Harry and the front-running grey Nacarat who won the corresponding race last year.
The last named must give weight to the other pair and preference is for Time For Rupert (3.20) who looked a potential Gold Cup winner before disappointing in the RSA Chase when last seen back in the spring; trainer Paul Webber subsequently reported his stable star had broken a blood vessel.
He had looked a natural on his two previous runs over fences, both at Cheltenham, and if there is to a threat to Long Run’s Gold Cup crown then Time For Rupert could perhaps be the one to serve it up to Nicky Henderson’s star in the spring.
Diamond Harry was only able to make it to the track once last term, but that was a most impressive win in the Hennessy when he travelled like much the best horse although he was receiving 26lbs from the brilliant Denman. Nick Williams’ string have just been needing their first start of the season, however, and for that reason alone I just favour Time For Rupert.
At Newmarket I am very sweet on the chances of Diala (3.55) in the listed Montrose Stakes’ for juvenile fillies. The selection went down by less than a length to subsequent Fillies’ Mile winner Lyric Of Light on debut but was a most impressive winner of her maiden next time over 7f. The step up in trip to a mile is of no concern for the William Haggas’ trained filly who is considered a possible Guineas horse by connections. The Paul Cole trained Gifted Girl looks the danger although her three-month absence from the track is a slight concern.
Earlier in the card No Compromise (1.30) has shown more than enough in her two starts to suggest she can win her maiden; there are a number of well bred newcomers in the field but I felt the selection should have won at Salisbury last time and like the booking of Jimmy Fortune.
Alan King won Ascot’s opener in 2010 and I hope he repeats the feat courtesy of Batonnier (1.55) who looks well-handicapped off a mark of 115 when you consider his Southwell conqueror Grandads Horse was a subsequent facile winner off a mark of 122 at Stratford.
The feature event is the United House Gold Cup which will be fast and furious as there are any number of front-runners in the race; it may be prudent to consider those likely to be held up off what looks sure to be a frantic gallop and Irish raider Bideford Legend (3.40) could be the one having finished runner up in both the Kerry & Munster Nationals on his last couple of starts. The handicapper has taken a dim view to those excellent efforts, but he will have the race run to suit. There are a host of dangers but a market move for the Paul Nicholls-trained Promising Anshan would be respected.
On Sunday Hidden Keel (3.15) can make a winning reappearance for Charlie Longsdon; the grey must race right-handed and his sound jumping will be an asset at Carlisle in a fascinating intermediate chase.
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