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Saturday Jumps Preview: Cue to have been aided by rest
Timeform's Adam Brookes previews the feature races at Wetherby and Ascot on Saturday, including the Charlie Hall Chase.
Wetherby stages its flagship Charlie Hall Chase card on Saturday and all eyes will once again be on the very popular Cue Card in thefeature race, a Grade 2 for chasers over three miles. Colin Tizzard’s gelding won the race last year by three and three-quarter lengths from the re-opposing Dynaste and holds very strong claims of repeating the feat. After his winless 2014/15 season, Cue Card actually had three of his six rivals ahead of him on Timeform weight-adjusted ratings for last year’s renewal, but it’s a completely different story this time around, with Cue Card 13 lb clear of his nearest form rival Dynaste, even carrying a penalty.
Dynaste has much more to prove this year as he finished well held on six subsequent starts (including back over hurdles) in 2015/16, including when again behind Cue Card in the Bowl at Aintree. Another old favourite, Menorah, was one of those rated higher than Cue Card in last year’s race but he pulled up there, with his jumping defects only partly to blame. He got back on track when winning the Grade 2 Oaksey Chase at Sandown for the third successive year last April and then twice ran with credit in June, but he did make a trademark jumping error at a vital stage in the latter race. The younger brigade include Virak and last season’s likeable RSA winner Blaklion.
While Cue Card’s Gold Cup credentials are once again on the line in the Charlie Hall, Ballyoptic will bid to strengthen his case for the World Hurdle in the Grade 2 West Yorkshire Hurdle, also at Wetherby. One of the Timeform Fifty To Follow this jumps season, Ballyoptic made an impressive winning return in the Grade 3 Silver Trophy Handicap at Chepstow earlier this month, completing a four-timer in the process. He’ll need to improve again to beat the likes of former Welsh Champion Hurdle winner Silsol and last season’s Pertemps Final third If In Doubt here, but he’s very much open to further improvement after just four unbeaten outings over timber. Another fascinating runner in the West Yorkshire Hurdle is Native River, though last term’s Mildmay Novices’ Chase winner is reportedly using this race as a warm-up for the Hennessy Gold Cup.
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