Thornton to ride Somersby in the Champion Chase

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Robert Thornton’s Cheltenham “experience” has landed him a plum ride on board Somersby for the Champion Chase at the upcoming Festival.

Although still entered into the Ryanair Chase and trainer Henrietta Knight indicating earlier this week that the lack of rain may lead to Somersby taking this Cheltenham route, a U-turn has been made.

Knight has confirmed that her horse will run in the Champion Chase because of a situation involving the owner, with Somersby’s betting odds 7/1 to secure victory in the two-mile showpiece.

Another thing that has been confirmed is that Hadden Frost will not ride Somersby in the Champion Chase, despite being in the saddle for all of the horse’s three runs already this season.

Frost has not enjoyed the best of campaigns, failing to ride a winner since November, and therefore the decision has been made that Thornton will renew his partnership with Somersby.

Thornton rode Somersby at last year’s Cheltenham Festival and was unfortunate to finish second behind Sizing Europe in the Arkle Chase.

Knight told the Racing Post: “Hadden understands. He’s a young jockey with his life ahead of him, and this is a very important race. In a top two-mile race at Cheltenham you have to have a jockey with Cheltenham experience. It had to be someone who knew the horse, and ‘Choc’ rode Somersby last season.

“Somersby goes to the race on Wednesday whatever the weather, whether it is raining or snowing or whatever it is.”

Somersby has finished in the places at the last two Cheltenham Festivals and heads into the Champion Chase having not won a race for 16 months.

Big Zeb and Master Minded are currently the joint favourites at the head of the Champion Chase betting at 3/1, while Woolcombe Folly is given the same quote as Somersby at 7/1.

A £25 stake on Somersby winning the Champion Chase would return £175. New customers can sign up here for a free £25 bet.

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