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The seasons turn. Jumping is back centre stage this week and the feature is the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby. This curtain raiser has been used as springboard to the biggest prize over the fences, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, by horses of the calibre of See More Business in previous seasons. A typically high class field has been assembled for this year’s renewal, though most are well exposed and are only in the middle ranks in the betting for next year’s Cheltenham showpiece.
Kingscliff didn’t run to his best form when tenth in last season’s Gold Cup and will be a danger to all if he is firing on all cylinders on Saturday. Take The Stand and Sir Rembrandt have been around forever, are unlikely to be improving and the former has jumping frailties. The percentage bet is Our Vic trained by David Pipe, son of the peerless Martin. He ran his best race last term early in the season when winning the Paddy Power at Cheltenham’s November meeting. The distance is a concern, but he is one horse in the field still likely to be on an upward trajectory.
Ascot has a new jumps meeting on Saturday and full credit goes to the executive for putting together an excellent card. The feature is the United House Gold Cup Handicap Chase. Rather like the Charlie Hall, the race has attracted a cast of well established staying chasers. Bewleys Berry each-way is the pick. J Howard Johnson’s string weren’t running well last term but seem to be back to form this season. Bewleys Berry hinted at his ability last season when running a creditable race in the Royal & SunAlliance Chase at the festival. Earlier on Ascot’s card Crossbow Creek can win the Byrne Group Plc Handicap Chase.
Ascot 1:10 Crossbow Creek (win)
Ascot 2:10 Bewleys Berry (each-way)
Wetherby 3:25 Our Vic (win)