Wetherby Saturday

Bet365 Charlie Hall Chase

THE Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase was billed as an exciting match between Shan Blue and Cyrname, but despite that pair dominating for much of the race, a dramatic finish saw neither horse complete.

Shan Blue looked a most unlucky loser, seeing off his rival decisively on the home turn, and setting sail for home only to crash when well clear at the third-last fence.

Cyrname then made a bad mistake when beaten at the last, and was quickly pulled up, leaving Fusil Raffles (Nicky Henderson/Daryl Jacob) to inherit an unlikely win, the 100/30 shot beating Kitty’s Light (Christian Williams/Jack Tudor) by four and a half lengths in a race which will be talked about for some time.

Whether Fusil Raffles improved for a step up to three miles is a moot point, as he kept on well enough, but Cyrname choked and looks set for retirement, and Shan Blue would have won by a street if he had stood up, which makes the form difficult to rate highly.

Daryl Jacob feels his mount will improve for the experience, as he explained:

“He’s used to attacking his fences and going forward over a shorter trip but today the pace of the race was slower, and I was trying to teach him to come back, relax and pop a few more fences. He got the hang of it towards the end of the race.”

West Yorkshire Hurdle

Indefatigable (Paul Webber/Daryl Jacob), fresh from her win on the flat at Pontefract last month, made the most of her fitness and a slow pace to register a Grade 2 win in the Bet365 Hurdle.

The former Cheltenham Festival winner is a game and consistent sort, but certainly had everything in her favour here, striking for home before runner-up Proschema (Dan/Harry Skelton) and keeping on well to score by two and three-quarter lengths, with Paisley Park (Emma Lavelle/Aidan Coleman) just a respectable third having got outpaced when the tempo belatedly quickened. The winner was returned at 5/1.

This wasn’t a great renewal of the race registered as the West Yorkshire Hurdle, with the gallop set by Master Tommy Tucker not ensuring a test of stamina, and the first two will need to confirm their stamina in different conditions before this form can be taken literally.

Paisley Park heads to Ascot for the Long Walk, where he will surely be seen to better advantage, although his dominance of this division looks a thing of the past.

Dan Skelton had compensation for this debacle when Molly Olly’s Wishes landed the Listed Bet365 Mares’ Hurdle, and she impressed under a typically attacking ride from Skelton minor.

The trainer revealed earlier this week that Shan Blue would miss both the Ladbrokes Trophy and the King George as he is sore from his fall, but he will be back in the spring, where he may yet attempt to utilise an unchanged handicap mark before a bid for Grade 1 prizes.