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Friday, October 30, 2009


Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies is optimistic that Ollie Magern can make history by becoming the first three-time winner of the £100,000 Grade Two bet365 Charlie Hall Chase (2.55pm) at Wetherby tomorrow, Saturday, October 31.

The 11-year-old was one of five horses declared for the prestigious three mile and one furlong chase, highlight of the two-day bet365 Charlie Hall Chase meeting.

Having begun his Wetherby love affair with victory in the Grade Two Towton Novices’ Chase in February, 2005, Ollie Magen returned later the same year to record his first success in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase, getting the better of seasoned Grade One performers like Kingscliff, Take The Stand and Grey Abbey.

He returned to the Yorkshire course in November, 2007, and produced a fine front-running performance to beat State Of Play but was unable to repel the Evan Williams-trained chaser under a 10lb penalty in last year’s race, going down by a length.

Twiston-Davies reported: “Ollie Magern goes to Wetherby in very good form. I actually think that his best run in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase was last year because he was giving a lot of weight to State Of Play and it was a hell of a performance.

“The first time he won the race was pretty special as well - he beat some very good horses on that occasion.

“He tends to run his best race at the start of the season. He’s normally brilliant on his first appearance but he puts so much into the race that he maybe isn’t as good afterwards.

“He seems to be as good as ever at the age of 11 and I’m looking forward to seeing him run his usual big race at Wetherby tomorrow.”

His handler will be bidding to cement his place as the most successful trainer in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase, having previously landed the spoils with Tipping Tim (1992) and Young Hustler (1994), as well as Ollie Magern’s two victories.

The field for the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase also includes last year’s third Snoopy Loopy, who went on to victory in the Grade One Betfair Chase on his next appearance for trainer Peter Bowen, and the David Pipe-trained Tamarinbleu, successful in the Grade One Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot in January, 2008.

Co Limerick-based handler Michael Hourigan has sent over Irish Grand National runner-up Church Island, while last year’s winning jockey/trainer combination of Paul Moloney and Evan Williams will team up again with dual Grade Two scorer Deep Purple.

Twiston-Davies will also be looking to enhance his excellent recent strike-rate in Saturday’s other Grade Two contest, the £43,000 John Smith's Hurdle (3.25pm), which has attracted a field of five.

After saddling Redemption to a six-length victory over Ladbrokes World Hurdle winner My Way De Solzen in 2006, Twiston-Davies recorded a second triumph in the space of three years 12 months ago with Pettifour, who got the better of Mobaasher in a thrilling finish.

The seven-year-old, successful in the Grade One Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree in April, 2008, is all set for a repeat bid and comes into the three mile, one furlong, contest on the back of a fine second in the Grade One Ladbrokes.com World Series Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival at the end of April.

Twiston-Davies added: “Every thing is going well with Pettifour. I have been pleased with him over the summer. It looks like our main opposition in the race is going to come from Lough Derg - if he’s in top form then he could be very difficult to beat but he is sometimes a bit in and out.

“I was absolutely delighted with the way he coped with the step up to the top staying hurdles last season. His second at the Punchestown Festival was wonderful and we will be looking at all of the top races for him once again.

“He’s a year older now and it’s possible that he can improve further. The ultimate aim will be the World Hurdle at Cheltenham again but I am hoping that he can get off to a winning start at Wetherby first of all.”

Lough Derg, sixth behind Pettifour 12 months ago, also boasts Grade One winning form, having triumphed over dual Champion Hurdle victor Hardy Eustace in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December, 2007. The David Pipe-trained nine-year-old has also been successful in Grade Two company on four occasions, including in the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell in February.

Philip Hobbs is represented by the classy Fair Along, who was third to subsequent Ladbrokes World Hurdle scorer Big Buck’s in the Grade Two Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham in February, while Howard Johnson has declared No Refuge, a Grade One winner at the Cheltenham Festival in 2005. The field is completed by the Jim Lambe- trained pair of Auenschutze and Ecole d’Art.

Tomorrow’s seven-race card also includes the £40,000 Listed Best Odds Guaranteed at bet365 Mares’ Hurdle (2.20pm). A field of 10 for the extended two-mile contest includes last year’s winner, the Nicky Henderson-trained My Petra, who went on to score over fences on her next start in a Grade Two Chase at Ascot.

An Irish challenge of three includes Serpentaria, from the yard of Grand National-winning trainer Gordon Elliott. The five-year-old was second in a Grade Three mares’ hurdle at the 2008 Punchestown Festival for former handler Willie Mullins.

The action gets underway at 12.35pm with the two-mile £10,000 bet365 Beginners’ Chase and concludes at 4pm with the £10,000 Wetherby Racecourse & Conference Centre Handicap Hurdle, run over two and a half miles.

The going at Wetherby is currently good, good to firm in places (watered).

Tickets are available by calling the course on 01937 582035 or online at www.wetherbyracing.co.uk.

bet365 Charlie Hall Chase - latest prices from the sponsor

Tamarinbleu 9/4
Deep Purple 3/1
Ollie Magern 100/30
Snoopy Loopy 9/2
Church Island 13/2

Non Runner No Bet. Rule 4 may apply. Each-way 1/4 1-2


The Grade Two bet365 Charlie Hall Chase this year boasts record prize money of £100,000, making it the richest race ever staged at the Yorkshire course.

The extended three-mile chase commemorates the late local trainer Charlie Hall, who was based at Towton, just to the south of Tadcaster, and recorded the biggest success of his career when Doorknocker won the 1956 Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Hall saddled a remarkable 169 winners at Wetherby. In all, he trained 584 winners over jumps, plus plenty on the Flat.

The race, previously known as the Wetherby Pattern Chase, was first run in honour of Hall in 1978, following his death in 1977 at the age of 75. Prior to 1978, it was run as the Wetherby Pattern Chase.

Over the years, the Charlie Hall Chase has been a high-class contest with four winners - Davy Lad, Burrough Hill Lad, Forgive’N Forget and See More Business - also winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup, while the 1990 and 1991 victor Celtic Shot had previously landed the Champion Hurdle.

It was a novice event up until the 1983 running, won by Wayward Lad. Wayward Lad, famously runner-up to Dawn Run in the 1986 Cheltenham Gold Cup and winner of the King George VI Chase at Kempton three times, was again successful in 1985. In between, he was beaten by Jenny Pitman’s Burrough Hill Lad in 1984.

Barton Bank made the step up from novice company look easy when beating Cab On Target in 1993 before going on to victory in that season’s Grade One King George VI Chase at Kempton.

The David Nicholson-trained chaser returned to Wetherby the following season but several blunders led to him falling two fences from home, handing victory to Young Hustler, and another bad mistake saw him snatch defeat from the jaws of victory at Kempton the following month.

He gained revenge over Young Hustler in the 1995 running of the Charlie Hall Chase, but had to settle for second for the next two seasons, chasing home the mighty One Man on both occasions.

Trained by Gordon Richards, One Man also triumphed in Kempton’s King George VI Chase in 1996 and went on to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the 1998 Cheltenham Festival.

See More Business was another dual winner of the race, following up his Cheltenham Gold Cup success with victory here in 1999 before going on to King George VI Chase glory. He returned to Wetherby the following season to record an effortless 30-length triumph.

In 2006, Our Vic provided trainer David Pipe with his first big-race success when beating subsequent Grade One winner Neptune Collonges and the David Johnson-owned gelding went on to victory at the highest level in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Ollie Magern returned to Wetherby in 2007 to notch his second bet365 Charlie Hall Chase triumph following his initial success in 2005, but the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained chaser could only finish second to State Of Play, with subsequent Grade One Betfair Chase winner Snoopy Loopy back in third.

A superb seven-race card on the second day of the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase Meeting also includes the £43,000 Grade Two John Smith’s Hurdle (2.50pm), which represents the first major test of the season for the top staying hurdlers.

The three mile and one furlong contest has been won by some of the leading performers of recent times including 1997 scorer Pridwell, who went on to beat the legendary Istabraq in the Grade One Aintree Hurdle later that season.

Irish raider Boss Doyle finished second in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase on his first visit to Wetherby in 1998 but returned two years later to triumph in the John Smith’s Hurdle before repeating the feat 12 months later. The Mouse Morris-trained gelding tried for a hat-trick in 2002 but could only finish second to Brother Joe.

The Howard Johnson-trained Inglis Drever was successful in the race in 2005, having won the first of his three Grade One Ladbrokes World Hurdles at Cheltenham the previous season, while the 2007 renewal was won by Grade One novice scorer Black Jack Ketchum, who battled to a neck victory over Faasel.

Last year saw Pettifour get the better of Mobaasher in a thrilling finish. The Nigel-Twiston-Davies-trained winner ended last season with a fine second in the Grade One World Series Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival and is on course to bid for a repeat victory at Wetherby this term.

Saturday’s card also includes the third running of the £40,000 Listed Best Odds Guaranteed at bet365 Mares’ Hurdle (2.20pm), which was created in 2007 as part of a series of mares’ only Pattern races designed to increase the opportunities available to female performers.

The inaugural running went to Annie’s Answer, who provided local trainer Jane Makin with the biggest success of her career by getting the better of the David Pipe-trained Gaspara in a thrilling finish.

My Petra recorded a comfortable four-length success in last year’s race and the versatile Nicky Henderson-trained mare went on to further glory over fences on her next start in a Grade Two Chase at Ascot.

1969 ARCTURUS 8-11-10 Neville Crump Pat Buckley 11/4 3
1970 KILDRUMMY 5-11-07 Bill Crawford Ron Barry 100/30 8
1971 Abandoned - snow & frost
1972 COXSWAIN 7-11-10 Arthur Stephenson Mr Graham Macmillan 4/5F 8
1973 DUNROBIN 6-11-05 Bill Crawford S P Taylor 4/5F 6
1974 TAMALIN 7-11-09 Gordon Richards Jonjo O’Neill 9/4 7
1975 DAVY LAD 5-11-07 Mick O’Toole IRE Dessie Hughes 2/5F 5
1976 DH SET POINT 8-11-09 Lady Herries Tommy Stack 20/1 6
DH CURRENT GOLD 5-11-07 Gordon Richards David Goulding 4/1
1977 GOOLAGONG 7-11-09 Neville Crump Mr Harry Orde-Powlett 8/1 8
1978 FIGHTING FIT 6-11-09 Ken Oliver Ridley Lamb 6/5F 5
1979 SPARKIE’S CHOICE 6-11-09 Neville Crump Colin Hawkins 9/2 8
1980 MANTON CASTLE 6-11-09 Maurice Camacho Gordon Holmes 16/1 9
1981 GAY RETURN 6-11-10 Edward O’Grady IRE Tommy Ryan 12/1 11
1982 RIGHTHAND MAN 5-11-07 Michael Dickinson Graham Bradley 11/10F 10
1983 WAYWARD LAD 8-11-10 Michael Dickinson Robert Earnshaw 1/3F 3
1984 BURROUGH HILL LAD 8-11-09 Jenny Pitman Phil Tuck 10/11JF 4
1985 WAYWARD LAD 10-11-06 Monica Dickinson Graham Bradley EvensF 4
1986 FORGIVE’N FORGET 9-11-10 Jimmy FitzGerald Mark Dwyer 5/2 6
1987 CYBRANDIAN 9-11-02 Peter Easterby Chris Grant 7/4 4
1988 HIGH EDGE GREY 7-11-02 Ken Oliver Tim Reed 13/2 10
1989 DURHAM EDITION 11-11-02 Arthur Stephenson Alan Merrigan 33/1 7
1990 CELTIC SHOT 8-11-02 Charlie Brooks Peter Scudamore 7/4F 7
1991 CELTIC SHOT 9-11-10 Charlie Brooks Graham Bradley 4/5F 6
1992 TIPPING TIM 7-11-02 Nigel Twiston-Davies Carl Llewellyn 11/4 7
1993 BARTON BANK 7-11-02 David Nicholson Adrian Maguire 12/1 7
1994 YOUNG HUSTLER 7-11-10 Nigel Twiston-Davies Carl Llewellyn 8/1 7
1995 BARTON BANK 9-11-02 David Nicholson Adrian Maguire 8/15F 3
1996 ONE MAN 8-11-10 Gordon Richards Richard Dunwoody 8/11F 4
1997 ONE MAN 9-11-10 Gordon Richards Richard Dunwoody 4/7F 4
1998 STRATH ROYAL 12-11-03 Owen Brennan Martin Brennan 14/1 5
1999 SEE MORE BUSINESS 9-11-12 Paul Nicholls Mick Fitzgerald 11/4JF 6
2000 SEE MORE BUSINESS 10-11-12 Paul Nicholls Mick Fitzgerald 1/3F 4
2001 SACKVILLE 8-11-05 Frances Crowley IRE David Casey 5/1 9
2002 MARLBOROUGH 10-11-00 Nicky Henderson Mick Fitzgerald 7/2 8
2003 BALLYBOUGH RASHER 8-11-00 Howard Johnson Graham Lee 40/1 6
2004 GREY ABBEY 10-11-06 Howard Johnson Graham Lee 5/1 6
2005 OLLIE MAGERN 7-11-05 Nigel Twiston-Davies Carl Llewellyn 11/4F 8
2006 OUR VIC 8-11-10 David Pipe Timmy Murphy 6/1 10
2007 OLLIE MAGERN 9-11-00 Nigel Twiston-Davies Paddy Brennan 11/4 7
2008 STATE OF PLAY 8-11-00 Evan Williams Paul Moloney 5/2F 6


Meeting: The Open
Dates: Friday, Saturday & Sunday - November 13, 14 & 15
Gates Open: 10.00am Friday & Saturday, 11.00am Sunday
First Race: 1.15pm Friday, 12.50pm Saturday, 1.10pm Sunday
Admission prices from £9. Go to www.cheltenham.co.uk for further information
Donald McCain and Nick Williams are considering their options ahead of the £100,000 Grade Three Greatwood Hurdle (2.20pm) at The Open on Sunday, November 15, with the trainers eying the lucrative handicap for Whiteoak and James De Vassy, respectively.

Whiteoak landed her greatest triumph in the extended two and a half-mile Grade Two David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle at The Festival in 2008, and McCain’s crack mare could bid for another Cheltenham triumph in the extended two-mile contest.

The six-year-old raced only three times last term. After an eye-catching second to Ashkazar over two miles in the Grade Two Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton in February, Whiteoak failed to fire and was 12th of 23 behind Punjabi in the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle at The Festival the following month. A respectable sixth to Solwhit at Aintree in April ended a frustrating campaign.

McCain revealed today: “The Greatwood Hurdle is one option under consideration for Whiteoak. I wanted to go to Wetherby this week but decided against that and she is also in the Morgiana Hurdle in Ireland. She is very well and desperately wants a run, there has just been nowhere to run her

“She had an injury early last season, which was unfortunate, and then came back and ran a blinder in the Kingwell Hurdle. To be fair to her, she probably left her season there. Without having a hard race, she managed to give herself a hard race that day and that was probably the end of her for the season. Saying that, she still ran respectably in the Champion Hurdle and was sixth of 16 in the Aintree Hurdle when she wasn’t quite herself.

“At the moment, the Greatwood Hurdle is under consideration and the ground as it is will not be a problem to her.”

Nick Williams enjoyed great success with Diamond Harry last term and the Devon handler has another exciting young hurdler on his hands in the shape of James De Vassy.

The four-year-old was having only his fourth race when making a winning start to the season in a limited handicap hurdle at Chepstow on October 10. Despite racing from 4lb out of the handicap in the extended two-mile contest, James De Vassy won impressively by four lengths from the smart Classic Swain.

Williams is not keen to compete from out of the handicap again and is hoping for a high-profile defection so that the weights will rise.

He reported: “The plan is to go to the Greatwood Hurdle with James De Vassy but he will not run if he is out of the weights, so that means we need Celestial Halo to come out. I don’t want to run him out of the handicap again - at the moment it is out of my hands.

“We were 4lb wrong at Chepstow and he won very well but it is different once you are rated in the 130s. You don’t want to be running from out of the handicap when you move up a grade.

“He is very good and I am really happy with him. You would definitely hope that there is a bit of improvement in him.

“He wants it on the soft side of good. We just about got away with it at Chepstow and we would not want to do that again, so he would not run on good to firm, especially at two miles. I do see him stepping up in trip at some stage.”

The Nicholls-trained Celestial Halo is the highest rated horse among the 56-strong entry after his runner-up finish in the Grade One Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle in March.

The fantastic contest is the highlight of Sunday’s excellent card, which is the third and final day of The Open - Friday, November 13, to Sunday, November 15.

Saturday hosts The Open’s feature contest, the prestigious £150,000 Grade Three Paddy Power Gold Cup, staged over an extended two and a half miles.

For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink Archive

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