Evan Williams reports State Of Play to be on top of his game as he bids to go one better than last year in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby tomorrow.
The 2006 Hennessy hero went down by a length and three-quarters to Ollie Magern 12 months ago, but has a pull of 16lb and is 9-4 favourite with totesport.
“He seems in good form. He needed a good break because nothing went right for him after the Charlie Hall last year, he wanted a good freshen up,” said the Llancarfan trainer.
“He came back in July time and he’s done plenty of quiet work.
“It’s obviously very competitive and you can give them all a bit of a chance.
“I think the weight will be a major help. It all depends if the trainer’s got him in the same form. That is what it will all hinge on!
“He runs well first time out and fingers crossed he’ll go there fresh and well. He hasn’t missed a day’s work and I’m very happy with the horse.”
Turko went lame after jumping the first fence in last year’s renewal and was pulled up – but his trainer Paul Nicholls expects a bold show this time.
“We really fancied him for the race last year but he knocked himself jumping the first and had to be pulled up,” Nicholls told Teletext.
“We are hopefully of a really big run from him. He definitely gets the trip these days.
“Nigel’s (Twiston-Davies) horses are running so well and Ollie Magern always runs well first time out so you have to be wary of him but it is a competitive renewal, State Of Play and Monkerhostin, they are all capable of winning.”
Ollie Magern will try to lift the West Yorkshire prize for a third time.
Owner Roger Nicholls, who bred Ollie Magern on his Oxfordshire farm, said: “To win three would be brilliant – funnily enough I was rung up by the course this week to remind me to bring the trophy back with me on Saturday.
“He is three out of three there, which is not bad with two Charlie Halls and a Towton Novices’ Chase.
“I don’t quite know why he loves Wetherby – he has won three times at Stratford as well. I just hope we can make it four wins on Saturday.
“He’s schooled well and has been working well. He also runs well fresh and Nigel has been training winners this week, so the stable is in form.”
Peter Bowen believes Snoopy Loopy could run a big race as long as he has fully recovered from last week’s Aintree exertions, when he was a fine staying-on third to Knowhere in the Old Roan Chase.
“It was a very good run on Sunday. He just needs further so with a bit of luck it should suit him tomorrow,” said the Haverfordwest trainer.
“He’s come out of the race really well and the ground shouldn’t bother him really.
“He should have a squeak as long as the last race hasn’t knocked the edge off him.”
Bet365 Charlie Hall Chase:
Totesport: 9-4 State of Play, 11-4 Turko, 7-2 Ollie Magern, 5-1 Snoopy Loopy, 6-1 Monkerhostin, 40-1 Hard Act To Follow 66-1 Love That Benny.
Ladbrokes: 5-2 State Of Play, Turko, 9-2 Ollie Magern, 5-1 Snoopy Loopy, 6-1 Monkerhostin, 50-1 Hard Act To Follow, Love That Benny.