TRAINER Jonjo O’Neill would be quite happy if it stayed dry before Saturday’s bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby for Holywell.
The eight-year-old enjoyed a great first season over fences, winning at the Cheltenham Festival for a second successive season in handicap company before following up at the highest level at Aintree.
He found things tougher in the last campaign, with his only win coming at Kelso, but he was far from disgraced in the Gold Cup, beaten less than 10 lengths into fourth behind Coneygree on ground softer than ideal.
Holywell was last seen finishing a close third to Silviniaco Conti at Aintree.
“He’s in good form and I’m very happy with him,” O’Neill told Racing UK.
“He’ll love the good ground, if it stays like that, he’s schooled well and is in good shape.
“We’re looking forward to it, it won’t be easy to win it but we’ll give it a good go.”
The Grade Two Chase has attracted a stellar list of 11 entries which also includes the Hennessy and Grand National hero Many Clouds, David Pipe’s classy duo Dynaste and Ballynagour, multiple Grade One winner Cue Card and Rebecca Curtis’ Festival winner Irish Cavalier.
On the flat, Andrew Balding is considering a trip to Hong Kong for last year’s Doncaster Racing Post Trophy winner Elm Park following his creditable effort on Champions Day at Ascot. Elm Park returned to the highest level in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and finished fifth – beaten less than three lengths – behind the brilliant Solow.
Balding said: “He’ll be entered in the Hong Kong Mile and the Hong Kong Cup over a mile and a quarter and both races will be given consideration.
“The intention is for him to come back next season and unless he wins in Hong Kong, he won’t have any penalties, which will make things a little easier for him early doors. We haven’t lost any faith in the horse.”
CHELMSFORD: 4.40 Approcaillis, 5.10 Gale Song, 5.40 Cornelious, 6.10 Jammy Guest, 6.40 Belvoir Diva, 7.10 Kingston Sassafras, 7.40 Lettuce Snow.
LINGFIELD: 12.50 Intermittent, 1.20 Vaunting, 1.50 Mr Pickwick, 2.20 DESERT SNOW (NAP), 2.50 Hold Tight, 3.20 Pack Together, 3.50 Race Day, 4.20 Hawk Moth,
SEDGEFIELD: 1.00 Western Breeze, 1.30 Be A Dreamer, 2.00 Roja Dove, 2.30 Iora Glas, 3.00 Woodford County, 3.30 Cardinal Rose, 4.00 Vexillum.
STRATFORD: 1.40 What A Good Night, 2.10 Knight’s Parade, 2.40 Sea Wall, 3.10 Kayf Adventure, 3.40 Al Alfa, 4.10 Charbel.
DOUBLE: Desert Snow and Pack Together.