Diamond is ready to shine in Charlie Hall

WILLIAMS believes his charge is in prime condition, even though he has not been seen since winning last year’s Hennessy at Newbury.

“We’re very much looking forward to the race and it’s great to have him back,” said the Devon handler.

“I don’t think he’ll improve too much for the run as he’s normally very good first time out.

“I think they are calling the ground at Wetherby good and that should be fine for him.

“We chose this race because we thought the track was bound to suit.”

Poquelin is officially the highest-rated horse in the line-up, but tries this longer trip for the first time in his career.

Owner Andy Stewart is looking to find out whether his charge is a realistic Cheltenham Gold Cup contender.

He said: “We look forward to seeing him run in what I have to say looks like a very good Charlie Hall.

“He’s obviously top class over two and a half miles and two miles and five furlongs and Ruby said after the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham he is crying out for a step up in trip.

“He is a 170-rated horse, so if he does get the trip, then we can think about going down the Gold Cup route with him.

Time For Rupert was considered one of the bankers of last season's Cheltenham Festival but he failed to run up to expectations in the RSA Chase, with a lung infection, leading to a burst blood vessel, blamed for the below-par performance.

Trainer Paul Webber is hopeful Time For Rupert returns to action in good shape, and does not expect a lack of race fitness to be an issue.

“I’m looking forward to it, but dreading it as well,” he admitted.

“I’m very happy with our horse. He’s done two good bits of work on the grass and he went down to Lambourn for a school on the all-weather.

“I’m sure he’s done enough work to do himself justice. He’s ready for action and ready to win.”

Tom George is optimistic Nacarat will return to Wetherby in just as good a form as 12 months ago.

He said: “We’ve been very happy with his preparation and everything has been spot-on. He’s exactly how I’d like him to be and this race is what we’ve been aiming for since he came back into training on July 1. He loves winter good to soft ground. ”

Chicago Grey would have gone close to winning at Cheltenham a fortnight ago but for parting company with Paul Carberry at the second-last, and his trainer Gordon Elliott is hopeful he can run into the money.

“I think he could run into a place,” said Elliott. “If he’d stood up and won the last day he’d have been six or seven pounds higher than he is now and he wouldn’t look out of it on the ratings with a few of them.”

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