David Pipe’s exciting grey will take on reigning champion Tidal Bay and top novice At Fishers Cross in a compelling renewal of the bet365 Hurdle on Saturday.
The decision comes after Pipe opted to begin the seven-year-old’s campaign over hurdles rather than taking on seasoned steeplechasers like 2012 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Long Run in the Charlie Hall.
Dynaste’s presence is another major boost for the Wetherby executive whose entries are far superior to Ascot’s rival fixture. This is a horse that was good enough to challenge the mighty Big Buck’s over hurdles before switching to fences last season.
Tom Scudamore’s mount won four of his five starts over larger obstacles, including the Grade One Feltham Chase and the top novice race at Aintree’s Grand National meeting. His only defeat came in the Jewson Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival when he could not repel the challenge of the Bryan Cooper-inspired Benefficient who holds an eyecatching Charlie Hall entry.
The King George VI Chase on Boxing Day, and possibly the Cheltenham Gold Cup, are likely to be Dynaste’s main targets this season, but Pipe is optimistic ahead of Saturday’s ultra-competitive race.
“Dynaste is an intended runner at Wetherby on Saturday,” he said. “It looks an ideal sort of race for him to kick off the new season and I would imagine that Tom Scudamore will be itching to get back on him.”
Pipe’s other top-class grey, Grands Crus, has something to prove after failing to show his best form in three starts last season.
Connections decided against a trip to Wetherby and he will instead run over hurdles at Kempton on Monday.“Grands Crus will not run on Saturday, but instead probably wait for the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle Qualifier at Kempton next Monday,” said Pipe. “He is in good order at home and I am looking forward to seeing him back on the racecourse.”
As well as the big three, this thrilling nine-runner field also includes Tim Easterby’s highly-rated Trustan Times and The Knoxs from the yard of High Eldwick’s Grand National-winning trainer Sue Smith.
An acquisition from the yard of former champion trainer Paul Nicholls, he runs in the colours of Aintree hero Auroras Encore and is regarded as a genuine National contender for 2014 if his jumping can improve.
In bet365 Charlie Hall Chase news, David Bridgwater’s 2012 Gold Cup runner-up The Giant Bolster is now a non-runner after suffering a minor setback.
He will now head to the Betfair Chase at Haydock on November 23 and Bridgwater said: “He’s fine really. We don’t take any chances with any of our horses and we want him to be 100 per cent. He’d only be 98% if he went to Wetherby.
“He’s in brilliant form at home and he’s still only a baby, so we’re looking forward to running him again. Hopefully he’ll be all right for Haydock.”
Another absentee will be the Irish-trained First Lieutenant – Mouse Morris intends to send him to Down Royal – but Benefficient is still on course to represent the Emerald Isle.
His trainer Tony Martin told the Yorkshire Post that his chaser is “more than likely” to head to Wetherby, and that he will look to finalise riding plans today.
One option could be the record-breaking AP McCoy who will almost certainly head to West Yorkshire to partner At Fishers Cross.
There exists the tantalising prospect of the 18-times champion jockey riding his 4,000th career winner at Wetherby on Friday or Saturday – a double at Ffos Las yesterday leaves the champion just nine victories short of the landmark as he prepares for the long drive to Carlisle for two rides today.
Breeders’ Cup Turf favourite The Fugue pleased her travelling team as she enjoyed a routine breeze at Santa Anita.
A luckless third on her previous visit to California 12 months ago, John Gosden’s four-year-old will this time take on the colts over the longer distance of a mile and a half on Saturday.
Taking to the track at 6.45am, just as dawn was breaking, the Yorkshire Oaks heroine sported four bright blue protective bandages on her legs and a distinctive black breast girth.
She enjoyed a gentle jog in the hands of Gary Forster and Gosden’s travelling head lad, Les Reynolds, expressed his satisfaction afterwards. “We’re very happy with her. She shipped in great and we’re delighted with the way she’s travelled,” he said.
Gosden and big race jockey William Buick arrive in the USA today.
Bonfire, winner of York’s Dante Stakes in 2012 for Andrew Balding, has been sold to race for Gai Waterhouse in Australia.