The first day of Wetherby’s bet365-sponsored Charlie Hall Chase meeting gets under way on Friday and Racing Post tipster Graeme Rodway runs you through his bets on the card.
Sister Michael @ 13/2
Bannister @ 17/2
Nuts Well @ 10/1
The bet365 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (1.10) is a wide-open contest and it’s worth giving Sister Michael another chance to bounce back following a disappointing run on his last start.
Sister Michael finished fourth of four that day at Ffos Las when sent off 15-8 favourite, but was beaten less than six lengths and the vet reported that he had lost a left fore shoe.
That is a legitimate excuse for the below-form display and he is better judged on his previous efforts.
They include two sound runs, when second in a 2m6f maiden hurdle at Ffos Las and then landing a 2m41/2f maiden hurdle at Southwell in May. A reproduction may be good enough.
Good ground suits Sister Michael and trainer Fergal O’Brien’s string is usually well forward at this time of year. That gives hope that this representative can defy a 148-day absence.
Five of the seven runners in the bet365 Handicap Hurdle (2.20) come into the event after lengthy absences and recent race-fitness could prove the decisive factor for Bannister.
The Tom George-trained five-year-old has won two of his last four starts at Worcester and recorded a career-best effort in Britain when landing a 2m handicap hurdle there in August.
He went off favourite to win at Southwell last time and finished only fourth behind Hurricane Ali. But he had beaten that rival at Worcester on his previous start and ran clearly below form. Bannister was in trouble from a long way out and never looked like playing a part.
He is better than he was able to show that day and is worth another chance to prove that, especially if ground conditions continue to dry out. Most of his best form is on good going.
The Each Way Extra At bet365 Handicap Chase (3.30) is the feature event at Wetherby and the 11-year-old Nuts Well might be capable of rolling back the years and springing a surprise.
Nuts Well is racing off a mark 6lb lower than when recording his last handicap success at Kelso in October last year.
He then proved he retains a lot of ability when landing a Listed race at that course in March, giving weight all round and a cosy beating to some useful performers.
He has been beaten at least 32 lengths on all three starts since, but two of those disappointments came in Graded events and he may have needed his latest run at Kelso.
That was his first outing for 162 days and there is every chance he will strip a lot fitter for that run.
Nuts Well is a course-and-distance winner and he might have the legs of his younger rivals for Ann Hamilton, who struck with Tommy’s Oscar at Carlisle a couple of weeks ago.