Wetherby stages a cracking renewal of the Charlie Hall Chase on Saturday, a race that will enable ante-post punters to take a view on which chaser might dethrone the imperious three-time Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Best Mate in March.
There are some strong candidates in the field, including last year’s Gold Cup runner-up Sir Rembrandt. But the horse that will be cut to silly odds for the big race if he wins is Lord Sam. He is the choice, but only for Charlie Hall. For the Gold Cup, Sir Rembrandt is the better prospect because he is proven to stay the extra half-mile that the biggest prize demands.
The other highlight of the jump’s calendar is the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal Persian War Novices’ Hurdle at Chepstow. A strong fancy in that race is Ladalko. Connections remain bullish about this horse and but for an upset over fences at Sandown last term he could already be a star.
Back on the flat the Breeders’ Cup meeting in the US is simply fantastic. Even viewed from an armchair, eight grade one races in the space of a scant few hours is the stuff that dreams are made off.
However, the lamentable turn out from the UK is an own-goal. Racing is a business and stud values need to be protected. But bloodstock is now a global market and the idea the best of British would fire blanks in Texas shows a want of ambition.
The UK’s hopes in the Breeders’ Cup in Texas are pinned on Ouija Board in the Filly Mare Turf. The filly is a star and would trounce her field by a mile on a sound surface. But the softish ground could cruelly rob her of this deserved prize. French raider Diamond Green in the Breeders’ Cup Mile may be value each-way.
1:25 Chepstow Ladalko (win)
2:50 Wetherby Lord Sam (win)
7:35 Lone Star Park (US) Diamond Green (each-way, take US odds)