All roads lead to Wetherby from tomorrow, for a two-day top-quality programme and Saturday’s famous Charlie Hall Chase.
This race has prize money on offer of £100,000 with the whole meeting being worth nearly £260,000.
The race commemorates a great local trainer who saddled 169 winners at Wetherby from his base at nearby Towton.
This year’s renewal looks like being star-studded. Paul Nichols saddled Silvianaco Conti to win last year and could be represented by his ex-French star, Unioniste.
Champion trainer Nicky Henderson hopes to run his 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Long Run and he would be a worthy favourite but looks more of a National horse this year.
Malton trainer Malcolm Jefferson runs his Cheltenham winner Cape Tribulation but my idea of the winner would be the Irish raider First Lieutenant.
This horse ran some great races in the early part of last season and had a recent pipe-opener in Ireland so his fitness looks guaranteed. He could yet be diverted to the Champion Chase at Down Royal in which case I’ll be siding with our local horse Cape Tribulation.
The other big race on Saturday is the bet365 Hurdle which was won last year by Tidal Bay who is could be in the field again. I love this enigmatic horse and I will be backing him if he is sent up from Somerset.
Local trainer John Quinn could have the winner of the Mare’s Hurdle with Cockney Sparrow.
Friday’s card starts with a novice hurdle in which I am eagerly awaiting the appearance of Malcolm Jefferson’s new recruit, Oscar Rock. This youngster won twice at Newbury on soft going for previous trainer Harry Fry and is a top class addition to Malcolm’s Malton stable. Champion jockey Tony McCoy has a great record when riding for Lincolnshire trainer Steve Gollings and if the pair team up with Zamoyski in the Listed juvenile hurdle then take the hint.
This three-year-old was last seen winning at Southwell under Flat champion jockey Richard Hughes and it will be interesting to see how he gets on making his hurdling debut for AP.
Speaking of McCoy, Wetherby racegoers have an outside chance of witnessing the ‘Champ’ ride his 4,000 winner. As at Tuesday morning he was 11 winners short but is in fantastic form and anything is possible with this remarkable jockey.
On Saturday, there’s a free shuttle bus service between Wetherby Bus Station and the racecourse starting at approximately 11am, then operating every 20 minutes up to the first race, concluding an hour after the final race at 4:05pm.
Garlick’s Wetherby Goodies: Oscar Rock Friday 1:10pm; Zamoyski Friday 2:45pm; Cockney Sparrow Saturday 1:50pm; Tidal Bay Saturday 3:00pm; First Lieutenant Saturday 3:35pm.