Punters could get some early clues for the Cheltenham Gold Cup this weekend as Diamond Harry and Time For Rupert are among the big names set to head to Wetherby to begin their seasons in the Charlie Hall Chase.
Run over 3m1f, the Grade Two race is regarded by some as the early-season rehearsal for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and ensures that a horse has a decent run under their belt ahead of the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Although Long Run is the big favourite in the Cheltenham Gold Cup odds at 5/2, there are a handful of horses expected to give him something to think about in their first run in the Cheltenham Festival showpiece.
Among them is Diamond Harry, who was expected to take part in the Gold Cup last season before a ligament injury cut short his season.
Now fully recovered, owner Paul Duffy is optimistic that the horse can overcome the frustrations of last season.
Duffy added: “He definitely goes to Wetherby. The Charlie Hall looks an easier race than some of the others that might have been on the cards and it seems the conditions of the race suit him.”
Diamond Harry is currently 20/1 in the Cheltenham betting and this be especially big each-way value should the ground be on the soft side in March.
One of the other big names expected to run in the Charlie Hall Chase is Poquelin, who will be stepped up in trip by trainer Paul Nicholls if he does run.
While this may be a negative against his chances, so would the absence of Ruby Walsh from the saddle if he decides to boycott the whole Wetherby card.
Walsh’s current five-day ban runs out in Friday, but any further breaches of the whip rules will result in a future ten-day ban.
He is now deciding whether the ride on Poquelin warrants the risk of collecting a further ban as he instead could ride in Ireland, where the same rules are not in existence.