Long Run, the 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner and dual King George VI Chase scorer, heads 11 entries for the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on Saturday.
The Nicky Henderson-trained gelding has made his seasonal debut in the Betfair Chase at Haydock for the last two years but connections report the eight-year-old to be ready for a run slightly earlier this autumn.
Long Run was second to Sir Des Champs in the Punchestown Gold Cup on his final start in April. First Lieutenant, who was half a length away in third, is a possible for trainer Mouse Morris after finishing third on his return at the same course recently but is also engaged in the JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal the same day.
A second Irish entry is the Tony Martin-trained Benefficient, winner of the Jewson Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. He had a pipe-opener on the Flat at Listowel last month. David Bridgwater has put in The Giant Bolster, who was finished second and fourth in the last two runnings of the Gold Cup.
The five-year-old Unioniste is Paul Nicholls’ sole representative while Kim Bailey has his exciting six-year-old Harry Topper. A strong entry is completed by Big Fella Thanks, Billie Magern, Cape Tribulation, Master Of The Hall and Wayward Prince.
Second to the Nicholls-trained Silviniaco Conti 12 months ago, Wayward Prince has a liking for Wetherby having won the Towton Chase as a novice when with Ian Williams. His owner-trainer Hilary Parrott said: “Wayward Prince will run as long as the ground is not bottomless. Good to soft ground would be fine, but he doesn’t like a slog.
“I ran him at Newton Abbot just to sharpen him up. He has come out of that in good form and has been working nicely.”
Coral make Long Run the 7-2 favourite ahead of First Lieutenant at 9-2. Spokesman David Stevens said: “The jumps season steps up a gear this weekend, with Long Run heading the betting for a Charlie Hall Chase that has the potential to provide several pointers to the future while being a top-class showdown in its own right.” The calendar may not have clicked to November yet but Willie Mullins already has his string in top form and he took the feature Polar Square Chase at Naas yesterday with Twinlight as Irish racing took centre stage after the abandonment of all three UK fixtures.
Very much an unheralded member of Mullins’ star-studded squad until now, Twinlight brushed aside Grade One winners Oscars Well and Realt Mor in impressive fashion. What looked a competitive race on paper was turned into something of a procession by the six-year-old, who tracked Realt Mor for much of the contest.
There were four in line at the second-last as the favourite Oscars Well and Dylan Ross joined issue but the latter took a fall. Walsh gave his mount an inch of rein between the final two fences and the race was over as the 11-4 second-favourite pulled seven lengths clear.
Mullins said: “That was a big improvement. He came in very strong this season. I was very happy with the way he was after coming in from grass. He didn’t get a break last year as he was on the go through the summer as we were aiming at the Galway Hurdle. The fact that he got a break this summer, you can see the improvement in him.
“It looks like a fair improvement in form for him to take on horses like that and beat them the way he did. I’d imagine we’ll keep him at two miles. I had thought with the strength of him we might go two-and-a- quarter or two-and-a-half.
“He doesn’t have to make the running and Ruby was able to sit in behind today. That gives us more options if we decide to go over a longer trip.”
Rule The World made a pleasing return from injury, winning the Hospitality At Naas Racecourse Hurdle. Second at the Cheltenham Festival in March to new Champion Hurdle favourite The New One, he looked the class act on paper and travelled through the race as such. However, at the second-last flight Oliver Brady’s King Shabra got first run and shot four lengths clear. Davy Russell had to work quite hard on Mouse Morris’ charge. The class of the 6-4 favourite shone through in the end.
Aidan O’Brien kept his 100 per cent record since his return to training National Hunt horses when Noah Webster made a winning debut over obstacles in the Follow Us On Facebook Maiden Hurdle.
12.50 Captain Joe
1.20 Sunny Side Up
1.50 Holy Angel
2.50 Sioux Chieftain
3.20 Iron Butterfly (nap)
3.50 Fathom Five
4.20 Mission Impossible
1.30 Gate Please
2.00 Captain Moonman
2.30 Get It On
3.00 Jump Up
3.30 Bob Ford
4.00 Kilvergan Boy
4.30 Carpies Boy
1.40 Bourbon Prince
2.10 Kung Hei Fat Choy
2.40 Baileys Forever
3.40 Mystery Bet
5.10 You’re The Boss
5.40 Definite Secret
6.40 Byron Gala
2:00 Ffos Las