Many Clouds to lift a wonkily weighted Charlie Hall

MCThe conditions of entry for races sometimes throw up oddities. Penalties are almost always to blame and it is these (where a horse has to carry extra weight because he won a certain grade/value of a race at a certain time of year) which determine that in tomorrow’s Charlie Hall Chase (3.05 Wetherby), Sam Winner, who is officially rated a 6lbs inferior horse to Dynaste, must give Dynaste 10lbs.

There are other such incongruities in the race, but the one mentioned above is mainly due to Dynaste not having won a race for 18 months, whereas Sam Winner has won a couple.

Anyway, it’s a tricky race even without these inconsistencies.

Dynaste has been running, as usual, at the top level, mostly respectably, but still without winning.  If the forecast rain falls tonight (7mm fell last night), he might find his pace blunted at the hot end of the race.

Sam Winner will enjoy a stamina test, but is well wrong in the weights. Holywell has never won before the turn of the year, and AP, after winning on him in February said, ‘I don’t know what it is, but he’s just better at this time of year.’

Dynaste’s stable companion Ballynagour is a promising horse, but he has broken blood vessels more than once, and I wouldn’t take the chance on his lungs remaining blood-free this time.

I love Menorah, but can never catch him. How his trainer keeps these veterans fresh deserves racing’s equivalent of the Nobel prize.

Cue Card is an old favourite of mine, but I’ve never backed him since he stopped so spectacularly in the 2013 King George. I’m convinced something went wrong with him that day (he hasn’t won since, nor come closer than within 12 lengths of doing so). His trainer is invariably bullish about his homework, and the horse has been supported in the market, but homework cannot be done under race conditions, and it’s when the pressure is on that Cue Card’s problem seems to stop him. Joe Tizzard has talked of a trapped epiglottis last year, but I’m going to wait and see what happens on the track.

Many Clouds is badly in with Dynaste and Ballynagour. He’s giving Dynaste 9lbs more than he should be on official ratings, but I believe he’s the value in the race. Having seen his stunning Grand National triumph, anyone would be forgiven for branding him a stayer pure and simple, but he has speed, and has 6 victories at 20 furlongs or shorter to his name. Also, he has a fine seasonal debut record: won 3 from 4 (2nd in the other one).

I tipped him strongly here for the Gold Cup and was dumbfounded when he ran such a poor race, as was Mr Sherwood, his trainer, who now believes the horse had an off day at Cheltenham. That’s a real shame if he did, because he could be lining up here going for 6 wins in a row, in which case he’d be a darn sight shorter in the betting than the 13/2 on offer with 888Sport and 32Red.

Take that price if you like, and I will be, but I’ll also be having the maximum allowed with HIlls on their CH4 offer (£25), which returns your stake as a free bet if your selection is 2nd.

The trainer and jockey of Many Clouds report him in tip-top shape, although Mr Sherwood says he will come on for the race. He’d have come on after each of his seasonal debuts, so I wouldn’t be put off by that. There is always a nagging doubt with National winners that the race takes so much out of them, they never regain their old form. I’m willing to chance it. I think this horse is pretty special, and I just wonder too that, if he is, then connections might well change their primary plan – the National – and give him another crack at the Gold Cup.

But, best get tomorrow out of the way first. It will tell us a lot…whether it ends up being what we want to hear, well, that’s another matter!

Good luck



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