Time for a Long Run at Wetherby
- Credit: PA
Cheltenham Festival winners are out in force at Wetherby and Ascot this afternoon when Channel 4 shows three live races from both courses as well as the feature race from Down Royal in Ireland.
Long Run, Cheltenham Gold Cup winner in 2011, and who also finished third this year, is a contender for the feature, the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase, over three miles and a furlong at 3.35pm.
Sam Waley-Cohen takes the ride on the Nicky Henderson trained eight-year-old but there are several real challengers in the field of seven declared.
Unioniste, trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies, was last seen finishing fourth in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham and at five, the grey represents the younger brigade while Cape Tribulation is a live northern challenger.
Trained by Malcolm Jefferson and under Denis O'Regan, Cape Tribulation was fifth in the Aintree Bowl Chase in April, when last seen, after finishing in the same position in the Gold Cup.
A P McCoy is closing in on the 4,000 career winners' mark and in the 3pm West Yorkshire Hurdle, partners the Rebecca Curtis trained At Fishers Cross.
Key rival could be Tidal Bay, winner of the race last year but last seen over the bigger obstacles, winning the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown for Nicholls. Twiston-Davies rides.
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Tim Easterby has Dougie Costello in the saddle on Trustan Times, the seven-year-old winner of the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December. Later in Haydock's Rendlesham Hurdle, Trustan Times was runner-up to Across The Bay, who also takes his chance under Jason Maguire.
Earlier, at 1.50pm, nine mares contest a two-mile hurdle with four of them last time out winners but making their 2013/14 debuts.
Doyle Carte, Maguire for Donald McCain won at Cheltenham in April after finishing third at Taunton in December, in a race won by another of today's rivals, Mischievous Milly, under Leighton Aspell for Oliver Sherwood.
L'Unique represents Alan King and Robert Thornton after winning at Aintree last time out while another Aintree winner Cockney Sparrow should be fit from a flat victory at Ayr in September for Costello and trainer John Quinn.
Top race at Ascot is the 3.20pm United House Gold Cup Handicap chase over three miles featuring 16 runners headed by Bouggler.
Three-pound claimer Gavin Sheehan rides for in-form trainer Emma Lavelle on the eight-year last seen winning at Market Rasen in September. In doing so, Bouggler had another of today's main rivals, AlCo, back in fifth spot.
However, Al Co, Tom O'Brien in the plate for Peter Bowen, has since been out again and won at Chepstow.
Last year's winner Roberto Goldback represents Nico de Boinville and Henderson but the champion trainer's better chance appears to be with the Barry Geraghty ridden Triolo D'alene who scored in April at Huntingdon after earlier winning the prestigious Topham Chase at Aintree.
Twiston-Davies is represented by Same Difference. With claimer Ryan Hatch taking off a useful seven pounds, Same Difference was runner-up to Quentin Collonges in April in the Betfred Gold Cup at Sandown after earlier taking the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup for amateur riders at the Cheltenham Festival.
The 2.10pm sees 15 go in the Byrne Group Handicap chase, headed by Nicholls' Ulck Du Lin under Harry Derham. The gelding won twice in December 2012 at Ascot and Newbury and should go well.
Tom Cannon rides King Edmund for Chris Gordon, the 10-year-old recently second at Fontwell while David Pipe has two in Consigliere, an Ayr winner in January, and My Brother Sylvest, second at Wincanton after a Huntingtdon victory, both in October. Three other last time out winners, Avoca Promise, Notarfbad and Fairy Rath make it an ultra competitive contest.
At 2.450pm the William Hill Hurdle sees two bidding to complete hat-tricks. Makari, Andrew Tinkler for Henderson, won at Ludlow and Huntingdon last month while Court Minstrel, Paul Moloney for Evan Williams, the current Scottish Champion Hurdler after his Ayr success in April, also runs.
Nicholls sends out Dildar, a Kempton runner-up last Boxing Day while lower in the weights, Oliver Sherwood runs Rayvin Black under five-pound claimer Thomas Garner, the four-year-old having won at Exeter three weeks ago.
The cameras make a rare foray to Ireland for the 2.30pm JNwine.com Champion Chase over three miles in which last year's winner, Kauto Stone, brother to the great Kauto Star, tries to defend his title.
Nicholls' seven-year-old, under Nick Schofield, again meets the horse he beat into second place last year, First Lieutenant while Sizing Europe, second in Cheltenham's Queen Mother Champion Chase, is another key rival in the seven-strong field.
They also go jumping this afternoon at Ayr while Newmarket brings the curtain down on its 2013 flat racing season on the Rowley Mile.
Tomorrow, they go over fences at Carlisle, Huntingdon and Cork in Ireland and on the flat in Ireland at Leopardstown.