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Friday, October 26, 2007



The Robert Alner-trained Kingscliff is looking to strike a blow for the old guard in the £90,000 Grade Two bet365 Charlie Hall Chase over three miles and a furlong at Wetherby on Saturday, November 3.

Alner revealed today: “Kingscliff is aiming for the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase. He has run in the race a couple of times before and we are very happy with him.”

The 10-year-old, winner of the Grade One Betfair Chase in November 2005 after finishing runner-up in that season’s bet365 Charlie Hall Chase, took fourth behind Our Vic in the Wetherby feature 12 months ago and is bidding to make it third time lucky in the race.

Alner’s charge is likely to face a stiff test in the Grade Two contest, race three in the 2007/2008 Order Of Merit, which is likely to feature last season’s top novice Denman, trained by Paul Nicholls and fellow top-class second season chaser Aces Four from Ferdy Murphy’s North Yorkshire yard.

The bet365 Charlie Hall Chase is sponsored by bet365, one of the UK's leading betting and gaming groups, and the mouth-watering highlight is also set to include the Evan Williams-trained State Of Play, winner of the Grade Three Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup in November.

Kingscliff ran his best race of the 2006/2007 campaign on his final start in the Grade One Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup when he finished second to last season’s bet365 Charlie Hall Chase runner-up Neptune Collonges.

Alner said: “We were very pleased with his last run at Punchestown so we are hoping for another performance like that. He is well and has done plenty of work.

“Obviously, it is going to be a very hot race with the likes of Denman running but Kingscliff will run his race.

“Last year the going was pretty soft in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase and he was giving weight to most of them and this year he is receiving some, so we will see. There is no reason why he should not run up to his form.”

Michael Hourigan is adept at mounting successful assaults across the Irish Sea from his County Limerick base and the trainer is considering the Wetherby contest for smart second season chaser Mossbank.

The promising seven-year-old, Grade One-placed over hurdles as a novice, made a winning seasonal debut at Limerick in the valuable Ladbrokes.com National Handicap Chase over three miles on October 14.

Hourigan, who saddled Church Island to finish seventh in the race last year, revealed today: "I am looking at the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase as a possible next target for Mossbank. I was very pleased with his win at Limerick but the handicapper was very severe for two and a half lengths and the Wetherby race is a Grade Two, so I am considering it.

“He came out of the race well and he goes on most ground so that is not a worry.”

The bet365 Charlie Hall Chase is traditionally a pointer to further big-race glory and last season’s contest went to the David Pipe-trained Our Vic who defeated subsequent Grade One Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup hero Neptune Collonges.

The great Gordon Richards-trained One Man scored back-to-back victories in 1996 and 1997 under Richard Dunwoody, while Cheltenham Gold Cup hero See More Business took the Wetherby prize in 1999 and 2000.

Bet365 Charlie Hall Chase day also features the prestigious £40,000 Grade Two John Smith’s Hurdle (2.20pm) over an extended three miles, which is the third race in the Order Of Merit and was won in 2006 by the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Redemption, with the previous season’s Grade One Ladbrokes World Hurdle hero My Way De Solzen in second.

County Durham trainer Howard Johnson, who sent out dual Ladbrokes World Hurdle victor Inglis Drever to success in the 2005 renewal of the John Smith’s Hurdle, is eyeing the contest for last season’s fourth, No Refuge, winner of the 2005 Grade One Royal & SunAlliance Hurdle.

Johnson revealed this morning: "No Refuge is coming to himself so at this stage he is a possible for the John Smith’s Hurdle. He summered well and is in grand form."

The fantastic seven-race card on Bet365 Charlie Hall Chase day begins with the two-mile bet365 Call 08000 322 365 Beginners’ Chase at 12.45pm, which was won last season by the Johnson-trained Percussionist.

The exciting two-day bet365 Charlie Hall Chase meeting commences on Friday, November 2, with a competitive six-race card featuring the £23,000 Listed bet365.com Handicap Chase (3.25pm) over an extended two miles, three furlongs and the £16,500 Listed Weatherbys Bank Wensleydale Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle over two miles.

Admission prices for Friday, November 2: Premier Enclosure £21; Paddock Enclosure £14; Course £4; Pick of the Paddock (advanced only) £18; Cars to Course (incl. four adults) £14; OAPs to Course £2; Children under 16 (accompanied by an adult) are admitted free; Coach and car parking is free.

Admission prices for bet365 Charlie Hall Chase day, Saturday, November 3: Premier Enclosure £27; Paddock Enclosure £16; Course £5; Pick of the Paddock (advanced only) £20; Cars to Course (incl. four adults) £17; OAPs to Course £2.50; Children under 16 (accompanied by an adult) are admitted free; Coach and car parking is free.

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