Racing returns to Wetherby for the Charlie Hall Chase, but first its the Enjoy The Jumps On Racing UK Handicap Chase, and Steps And Stairs returns to the scene having been off for six months. Henry Oliver has been rather bullish about this horse, who won two of his last three chases at the back end of this season, and competes best on this type of ground. Strong contender back from a layoff.
Wetherby Saturday Preview - 03/11/2018
12:20 - Steps And Stairs
12:55 - Thistle Do Nicely
Thistle Do Nicely - who won on his seasonal reappearance at Wincanton last month, can land the bet365 Novices Hurdle with a similar performance here. Jamie Snowden's young 4yo quickened up nicely in Somerset, and does not have many miles on the clock. He is also a half-brother to a smart hurdle/chaser winner Croco Bay, who won here at Ascot in a similar contest, back in 2014.
1:30 - Nightfly
Nightfly, who was a short-head beaten favourite at Worcester four weeks ago, can put it right here in this Class 3 Handicap Chase. Mercian King - the winner that day, had a taste of his own medicine at the same venue a fortnight after, when being defeated by the same distance to Dan Skelton-trained Peppay Le Pugh. The form looks strong from that previous contest, and Nightfly is the selection here for Charlie Longsdon and Jonathan Burke.
2:05 - Oscar Rose
A small, but competitive field go to post for the OLBG.com Mares Hurdle (Listed) over 2 miles, and we have chosen to side with Oscar Rose. Won on her seasonal reappearance at Worcester two weeks ago in eye-catching fashion, and that performance simply cannot be ignored. She beat some fit rivals that day by 15 widening-lengths - albeit in a class four, but the jump back up to top level, will not make her an outlier. Paddy Brennan teams up with Fergal O'Brien.
2:40 - Black Corton
The feature, of the entire day, is the Grade 2 bet365 Charlie Hall Chase over 3 miles, and sadly only five go to post, with the withdrawals of Thistlecrack and Bristol de Mai breaking earlier this week. However, five strong candidates line-up, and Black Corton, who had such a memorable last year with Bryony Frost in the saddle, can begin his season in good style here. Having won six out of seven races twelve months ago, he landed the G1 32Red Kauto Star Novices Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, and was later beaten by some pretty good rivals in the RSA at the Festival - with Presenting Percy the winner; many people's fancy for the Gold Cup this year. He perhaps ran out of steam when March rolled around, with a busy season and lots of racing eventually showing their toll. The class is still there and is seriously respected in this race.
3:15 - Wholestone
The penultimate race at Wetherby is the bet365 Hurdle - registered as the West Yorkshire Hurdle, and Nigel Twiston-Davies has an exciting season ahead, particularly with Wholestone. One of a number appealing recruits owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, Wholestone finished a fantastic third in the Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham. He was second to Identity Thief in the Stayers at Aintree, before ending the season third in the bet365 Select Hurdle at Sandown. A number of close efforts, and his class should shine through in this Grade 2.
3:50 - Secret Legacy
The bet365 Handicap Hurdle caps off the Wetherby card, and Secret Legacy can land the spoils for Ian Williams and Tom O'Brien. His last racecourse appearance was at Uttoxeter at the back end of last season, when winning a maiden hurdle. He has been off all summer, but excluding one fall in his career, he has never finished outside the top three. Lightly raced 7yo, should be involved.