Hill aim for Character

Character Building will have his preparation run for the Grand National in the William Hill Chase on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival.

John Quinn's 10-year-old grey won at the meeting last year when landing the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir in the hands of Jamie Codd.

He then missed the National due to a late setback but returned to action this campaign with a satisfying run over hurdles at Doncaster.

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"Having recently being allotted a weight of 10st 11lb in the showpiece race, we can now confirm that his target is the William Hill Chase at the Cheltenham Festival en route to a crack at the big race in April," the North Yorkshire handler reported.

"Hopefully he can provide the stable and his owners with back-to-back victories at the Festival."

Character Building can be backed at 25-1 for the William Hill and 33-1 for the National.

Nicky Richards is favouring a tilt at the Raymond Mould Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury on Saturday for his Cheltenham Festival aspirant Skippers Brig.

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The nine-year-old has been off the track since finishing third in the boylesports.com Gold Cup at Cheltenham in December but could reappear this weekend. He holds entries both at Newbury and in the totesport.com Premier Chase at Kelso but Richards feels the former contest would suit best.

"I've got to discuss it with the owners but I think the best place for him to go would probably be Newbury," said Richards.

"He's in at Kelso and the owners might want him to go there but I think he's a bit wrong at the weights in that race so it might not be the right thing to do.

"We might even decide not to go anywhere and just go for a gallop to get him ready.

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"He'll go for the William Hill Trophy all being well but we just need a bit of help from the weather as he wouldn't want it to dry up. If he gets his ground he'll have a decent chance as, if you look at his form, he's mixed it with some good horses.

"He was third in the boylesports and the winner (Poquelin) is favourite for the Ryanair Chase and the runner-up (Razor Royale) won the Racing Post Chase the other day."

Robert Thornton was surprised to come in for the ride on Somersby in the Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy at Cheltenham.

Tony McCoy was in the plate when the six-year-old won the Henry VIII Novices' Chase at Sandown in December but the 14-times champion jockey will be on board Captain Cee Bee for his boss JP McManus.

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Thornton, who also rode Captain Cee Bee to Supreme Novices' Hurdle glory in 2008, was thrilled to get the call-up.

"Somersby was very good at Sandown and a pleasure to watch," Thornton said.

"It's an honour to be riding him and one that is a little bit out of the blue. I wouldn't have ridden a lot for Henrietta (Knight) but I'm delighted to take the ride.

"I'll have a school on him in the next few days to get to know him properly and he looks like the one who could mix it with Captain Cee Bee.

"He's definitely a top-class horse."

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