Wetherby Race Preview, 02-11-19

Wetherby
Saturday November 2nd

Rain forecast
overnight and
Saturday afternooon

* indicates Horses on Shortlist
** indicates Selection

Wetherby 3.40
bet365 Charlie Hall Chase Class 1 Grade 2
3m45y – Going: Soft (Good to Soft in places) – 7 runners

Definitly Red*
Beat Black Corton In last year’s Charlie Hall, led 7th, niggled after 14th, pushed along and pressed on coming off home turn, was joined by Black Corton 3 out, gradually asserted going to 2 out, stayed on and drew further clear by last: followed up in Listed race at Aintree. Brought down 5th in Cheltenham Gold Cup, had been niggled along earlier, and to finish with chased Kemboy to 3 out in Punchestown Gold Cup. Going’s come right (prefers softer surface to last year’s good ground) and strong chance
Aso*
Two wins last season in 2m4f handicap chases, Newbury in November and Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, leading 8th and going best home turn. Best subsequent run when good 2nd to Frodon in Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, upsides Frodon till outpaced home turn, put under pressure, stayed on going to 2 out and might have taken slight lead, hard ridden, was a head up last, hard driven, headed 175 yards out, driven, all out, no more last 100 yards, virtually walking last 75 yards, went down with honours. Gave his all and had a very hard race. Not out since and no blaming connections for that.  Of two starts over 3m, best effort when close 4th to Pilgrims Bay in Grade 3 handicap chase at Kempton in February 2017. Going in favour and might be worth chancing over this trip
Elegant Escape
After his runner-up finish to Sizing tennessee in Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury he won the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow, led 3 out, a length up next, hard driven, stayed on approaching last, all out run-in, driven out, found more than Ramses De Teillee last 100 yards. Apparently confirmed it when 2nd to Frodon in Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham, struggling in 4th some 5 or 6 lengths down 3 out, put under pressure home turn, stayed on going to 2 out, still had a bit to do as moved into 3rd approaching last, sustained effort under pressure, soon went 2nd, closed on Frodon last 150 yards, no extra last few strides. Not much in Cheltenham Gold Cup and made no contribution in Bowl at Aintree last two, not jumping well in the latter. The ground’s come right but he’ll need strong handling
Ballyoptic
Won the Towton Novices’ over this c/d in February 2018, beating Vintage Clouds on heavy ground. Didn’t turn up last season, but seemingly back to form – admittedly from opposition with shortcomings – when winning at Chepstow on October 12th, made all, firmly pushed along and found more approaching 4 out where mistake, hard ridden, challenged by Lil Rockerfeller going to 3 out where the better jump, pulled clear going to 2 out, ridden further clear approaching last, driven out although no challenger was near, stayed on well to go further clear, workmanlike and decisive by 9 lengths. More to do but proven over ground and track: does need to find at least 10 lbs though, assuming the others give their running
Top Ville Ben
Three wins from six runs in novice chases last season, two of them over this c/d: in the better novices, was up well held behind Mister Malarky in Reynoldstown at Ascot in February, up with the pace when fell 6th in RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, then 3rd to Lostintranslation in Mildmay at Aintree, allowed a clear lead, pressed on back straight on final circuit, not so far ahead 4 out, niggled along off home turn, more firmly pushed along once over it, stayed on in 2-length lead going to 2 out, hard driven between last 2, was readily headed approaching last, no extra when mistake, driven, all out, weakened last 150 yards and lost 2nd close home. Won’t get the lead to himself and I’ve got him a stone behind Ballyoptic, let alone Definitly Red and Aso
La Bague Au Roi
Arguably the top British-trained chasing mare last season (Lady Buttons fans, I did say ‘arguably’), with four wins from five starts in novice chases – best run against geldings in Grade 1 Flogas Novice at Leopardstown in February, went 4 lengths clear when ridden into 3rd, steadied into 8th, not so far ahead 10th, went a length up bend before 2 out, niggled along approaching it, in close and brushed it, pushed along home turn, stayed on well approaching last, reached for it and opened up a 3-length lead, stayed on well against far side rail under pressure, was closed on last 100 yards but sustained effort to the line. Ridden for stamina and finding plenty, this was a cracking, sound-jumping  performance. Ground and trip suit; she’ll need to improve but not impossible
Molly The Dolly
Better chaser than hurdler, won three out of four novice chases last season with best performance to win big novices’ handicap chase at Ayr in April, held up, a little keen, headway and midfield after 1st, further ground and prominent 6th, in close and brushed 9th, left disputing 2nd 10th, mistake 12th, in close to 13th, chased leader and 1st 2 pulled clear 15th, travelled best approaching 4 out, led there, ridden 3 out, drew clear by 2 out, ridden, hung left and idled when in the clear, in close and mistake last, driven out, idled and allowed Dandy Dan to close last 150 yards but never in danger of defeat, ridden out. Two ways of looking at this one, and that’s before considering the improvement she needs to make: 1/ if ridden like she was at Ayr, she’ll get a nice toe into things with Ballyoptic and La Bague Au Roi (and maybe Definitly Red) to set the pace, or 2/ the ground will be too soft – she’s placed at best on soft and heavy. No reason to back her, but no reason not to

Shortlist: Definitly Red, Aso

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