Crunch day for Poquelin as Charlie Hall to decide Cheltenham plans

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Poquelin is arguably the forgotten horse of the Charlie Hall Chase, but the race is hugely important in deciding his plans for the season and whether trainer Paul Nicholls has another horse to challenge Long Run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.

With Kauto Star and Denman now seemingly past their best, Nicholls needs a new star to take over.

The obvious two horses to potentially be Cheltenham Gold Cup contenders are Master Minded and Poquelin, but both have questions to answer as to whether they have the stamina to see out more than 3m.

Master Minded is certainly the more high-profile challenger, but there is the argument that he retains the speed to be a major force in the Ryanair Chase over 2m5f.

This is something that may not be true of Poquelin in the highest-quality races as he finished fourth in the Ryanair Chase last season and jockey Ruby Walsh indicated after that the horse needed to be stepped up in trip.

Poquelin’s first try over 3m1f will be in the Charlie Hall Chase and if he stays he may be the horse to beat despite the current look of the horse racing betting at Wetherby.

Poquelin is 4/1 third favourite to win the Charlie Hall Chase despite being the highest-rated horse in the race and a victory would almost certainly lead to a campaign over 3m.

Meanwhile, his chances are also boosted by the news that Ruby Walsh has decided to ride at Wetherby, despite some threats earlier in the week that he was considering missing the meeting because of the controversial whip bans.

Diamond Harry currently heads the Charlie Hall Chase betting at 9/4, with Time For Rupert also being well supported at 5/2.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.