Review of Wetherby – Saturday 29 October 2011
It’s been a long road for Restless Harry from his 40/1 second in the 2009 Challow Hurdle to his scintillating victory in Saturday’s Grade two John Smiths Hurdle. After announcing his arrival onto the scene with an eight length win in the Classic Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham in January 2010, there came THAT fall at the last in the 2010 Albert Bartlett followed by a confidence building victory at Cheltenham’s April meeting at the end of the 2009/10 season.
Last season we saw him again campaigned at the highest level and although not disgraced at any stage there were certainly no fireworks involved. However, Saturdays win was explosive, he finished twenty lengths clear of 2009 and 2010 winner Fair Along and a further fifteen lengths clear of What a Friend.
A novice chase campaign now awaits Restless Harry and anyone who saw trainer Robin Dickin’s emotional post race interviews knows how much this horse means to him. What a prospect he has on his hands; the 33/1 for the RSA Chase could just turn out to be value.
Hot on the hoof of the John Smiths Hurdle came a win for horse who has spent many a day in the wilderness; arise Weird Al, your time has come. In taking the Grade Two Charlie Hall Chase he proved what many of us have always known. He is a decent horse who has had the misfortune to be plagued with problems and injuries. The win was not a huge surprise given his class and he had already won over course and distance at Wetherby. I have long been a fan of the eight year old since he beat Knockara Beau by a neck at Cheltenham in November 2009. Had injury not kept him out of the 2010 RSA Chase, I have no doubt he would have featured in the finish. After dead heating for first place with subsequent Paddy Power winner Little Josh on his first run of last season at Carlisle, the wheels again came off the bus. A breathing operation was required after a lacklustre performance in the Hennessy, then on his reappearance in the Cheltenham Gold Cup he broke a blood vessel. Where this season takes him next depends very much on his wellbeing. Despite being 8/1 favourite for the Hennessy it’s unlikely that he will run. The King George could well be on the agenda. But wherever he goes he must be taken very seriously indeed.
Runner up Time For Rupert did not disappoint. It was said post race that he was not 100% fit with trainer Paul Webber reporting that his next engagement will be the Betfair Chase at Haydock on 19 November. Rupert is becoming something of a people’s horse and it’s easy to see why. There remains a decent prize waiting for this lovable and talented chestnut. It’s worth writing in the notebook that it was twenty seven lengths back to the third horse; National Hunt Chase winner Chicago Grey.
Just maybe good things DO come to those who wait…
@cathrynfry on Twitter