Horse Racing: Timeform’s 3 to note for this weekend’s action

Timeform’s Adam Houghton highlights three points of interest this weekend, including a fascinating clash between two old rivals in the Charlie Hall.



*Odds quoted on the widget are Future Racing / Antepost prices which means that if your selection does not run in the race for whatever reason – you will lose your stake under traditional Antepost rules

Bravemansgame might have the upper hand – for now

The headline event on Saturday’s card at Wetherby is the Charlie Hall Chase (15:35), a Grade 2 won by illustrious names such as Wayward Lad (1983 and 1985), Burrough Hill Lad (1984), One Man (1996 and 1997) and See More Business (1999 and 2000) when you go back a few decades.

Admittedly, it’s been a few years since this race has had a major bearing on the big staying chases later in the campaign, but that could all change this time round with Ahoy Senor (Timeform rating 161p) and Bravemansgame (159), two of the top novice chasers from last season, set to clash for a fourth time.

Ahoy Senor currently leads their head-to-head 2-1, but there isn’t much between them on Timeform ratings and there is a suspicion that Saturday’s test might play more to the strengths of the Paul Nicholls-trained runner who looked so good in winning his first four starts over fences before plainly failing to run his race in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase won by Ahoy Senor at Aintree.

The slick-jumping Bravemansgame had previously been an impressive winner when the pair met in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase and the first half of the season could be where he shines once again, with all roads leading back to Kempton on Boxing Day for the King George this year.

Ahoy Senor, on the other hand, is probably being trained to peak for the Gold Cup in the spring and it’s worth remembering that his novice season over fences was essentially one of gradual progress. It could well be a similar story again this term and he might just lack for a bit of sharpness against a rival from whom he doesn’t have much in hand on the figures.


Sporting John could be a Stayers’ Hurdle candidate

There doesn’t appear to be a standout contender among the staying hurdlers heading into this season, certainly not on this side of the Irish Sea, so it will be interesting to see whether the West Yorkshire Hurdle (15:00) at Wetherby can uncover a horse with genuine prospects of challenging for top honours further down the line.

Perhaps the most interesting entry is the Philip Hobbs-trained Sporting John, who is yet to win in graded company over hurdles but has shown himself to be capable of smart form, notably winning twice from three starts in handicaps last season.

As well as winning a listed event at Cheltenham under top weight in November, Sporting John later won a Pertemps Qualifier at Warwick in January before a setback brought a premature end to his campaign. However, the third from that race, Third Wind, went on to win the Pertemps Final, while the fourth, Sire du Berlais, a former Stayers’ Hurdle runner-up, had the likes of Flooring Porter and Thyme Hill behind him when winning the Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree.

That suggests Sporting John has what it takes to mix it with the best around in this division and it will be no surprise if he develops into a big player for races like the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury and the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot before attentions turn to Cheltenham in the spring. Ante-post odds of 20/1 for the Stayers’ Hurdle could well underestimate his chance.

Goshen’s chasing career should be some sight

Elsewhere on Saturday, the opening contest (13:30) on Ascot’s card is a race not to be missed as the trailblazing Goshen could make his chasing debut in the Ascot Underwriting Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (13:30).

Trained by Gary Moore, who has won two of the last five renewals of this race with Benatar (2017) and Nassalam (2021), Goshen is sure to be one of the highest-rated hurdlers going over fences this season having won six of his 13 starts over timber, showing very smart form in the process.

Those victories included back-to-back renewals of the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton, though he is perhaps best remembered for one of the races he didn’t win, the 2020 Triumph Hurdle where he looked in total control when unseating his rider at the last.

A strong, lengthy gelding, Goshen has the build to take well to chasing and a style of racing which should also be suited to the task. The slightly longer trip here should be in his favour, too, despite the fact he was campaigned mostly at around two miles over hurdles.

A BHA mark of 157 will be a tougher obstacle to overcome, but there has never been any doubting Goshen’s raw ability and a debut victory on Saturday could tee him up for a productive campaign in the novice chasing ranks, albeit his need to go right-handed will limit his options in the spring.

*Odds quoted on the widget are Future Racing / Antepost prices which means that if your selection does not run in the race for whatever reason – you will lose your stake under traditional Antepost rules


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