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Thursday, October 30, 2008


Owner Andy Stewart is looking forward to seeing Turko take his chance in the £90,000 Grade Two bet365 Charlie Hall Chase (3.35pm), highlight of the second day of the bet365 Charlie Hall Meeting at Wetherby on Saturday, November 1.

The Paul Nicholls-trained six-year-old is returning to the Yorkshire course following a disappointing effort in last year’s race, where he was pulled up after the first fence. He recovered to take an intermediate chase at Sandown the following month before going on to finish second in the Grade One Irish Hennessy at Leopardstown in February.

Currently rated as a 7/2 chance for Saturday’s race by sponsor bet365, Turko also finished third behind 2006 bet365 Charlie Hall Chase victor Our Vic in the Grade One Ryanair Chase at this year’s Cheltenham Festival before ending last season with the first fall of his career over the formidable Aintree fences in the Grand National.

Stewart commented: “Turko will take his chance in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase and Sam Thomas takes the ride. He was going ever so well in the Grand National before he decided to tip-up at Valentines second time round.

“He’s fine and I think that he will run against similar opposition to that he faced in last year’s bet365 Charlie Hall Chase. Choc Thornton pulled him up after the first then and I couldn’t believe it because I thought he had broken a leg or something like that. But there was nothing wrong with him and he seemed fine when we put him in the horsebox.

“He did a good piece of work this morning and he seems in good order. He won’t mind good to firm ground. In an ideal world he would prefer a bit more cut in the ground but we are not worried about the ground at Wetherby at all.

“He’s entered in the Hennessy and the Paddy Power Gold Cup, but I have plenty of options in both races and we will see how he runs on Saturday before making any further plans.”

As well as Turko, this year’s bet365 Charlie Hall Chase is set to feature Ollie Magern, who will bid to become the first three-time winner in the race’s history, following victories in 2005 and last year. State Of Play, Monkerhostin and Madison Du Berlais, who finished second, third and fourth respectively behind the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained chaser 12 months ago, are also expected to return again. Trainer Jonjo O’Neill has entered Albertas Run, who took the Grade One Royal & SunAlliance Chase at Cheltenham in March, while Peter Bowen will be represented by Snoopy Loopy, winner of two valuable Listed contests over the summer.

Saturday’s fantastic seven-race card also includes the £42,500 Grade Two John Smith’s Hurdle (3.00pm), which is the first major test of the season for some of the country’s leading staying hurdlers. Grade One winners Lough Derg and Pettifour could both take their chances in the three mile, one furlong, contest while last year’s runner-up Faasel may return and bid to go one place better. The 2007 Triumph Hurdle second Liberate is set to return to hurdles following some excellent races on the Flat, and he may meet the Paul Nicholls-trained Elusive Dream, who was twice successful in Grade Two novice company last season.

The £40,000 bet365 Best Odds Guaranteed Mares’ Hurdle (2.20pm), run over an extended two miles, could see the Chomba Womba make her seasonal reappearance. The Nicky Henderson-trained mare was victorious in a Grade Two Hurdle at Doncaster on her penultimate start, and could take on talented Listed performer Blaeberry and the lightly raced Programme Girl, who completed a four-timer over hurdles on her latest start in June, 2007.

With 61 runners declared, the first day of the bet365 Charlie Hall Meeting on Friday, October 31, looks set to be a competitive six-race card. The unbeaten trio of Gulf Coast, Resounding Glory and Silk Drum meet in the Listed £18,000 Weatherbys Bank Wensleydale Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (2.10pm), while the Alan King-trained Ruff Diamond, who was a comprehensive 17-length winner on his penultimate start, also among the seven declarations.

Wetherby specialist Manbow is one of eight horses declared for the £25,000 Listed bet365.com Handicap Chase (2.45pm) and the Micky Hammond-trained gelding is set to oppose the lightly raced Pay Attention, Listed scorer Strawberry, Yes Sir, who finished third in the skybet.com Supporting Spinal Research Bobby Renton Handicap Chase at Wetherby’s opening fixture on October 15, and the consistent Storm Of Applause, trained by Philip Hobbs.

Advance tickets have been selling well and can still be purchased by calling the course on 01937 582035 or online at www.wetherbyracing.co.uk

The ground at Wetherby is currently Good to Firm, Good in Places in the back straight and Good to Firm, Firm in Places in the home straight (watered).

Latest prices from bet365 on the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase
Ollie Magern 3/1, State of Play 7/2, Turko 7/2, Albertas Run 5/1, Monkerhostin 6/1, Snoopy Loopy 7/1, Madison Du Berlais 10/1, Hard Act To Follow 40/1, Love That Benny 40/1, Top Dressing 50/1, Canada Street 50/1

Each-way 1/5 1-2-3

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