Charlie Hall Chase: Bravemansgame returns to winning ways with victory at Wetherby

Bravemansgame avenged his Aintree defeat at the hands of Ahoy Senor as he made a sparkling return in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby.

The pair had clashed on three previous occasions, with Ahoy Senor having a win over both hurdles and fences to his credit, while Bravemansgame had proved best when the pair clashed in the Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Christmas. 

Ahoy Senor had Bravemansgame 30 lengths back at Aintree in the spring and was duly sent off the 11-10 favourite to come out on top again, with the Paul Nicholls-trained Bravemansgame a 2-1 chance in the hands of Harry Cobden.

Lucinda Russell's Ahoy Senor bowled along happily in the early stages, with Paint The Dream racing on his heels as he put in a particularly exuberant leap at the first open ditch.

However, when Paint The Dream renewed his challenge five fences from home, Ahoy Senor began to back pedal in the hands of Derek Fox and it was the Harry Cobden-ridden Bravemansgame who was cantering all over his rivals.

Taking it up two from home, Bravemansgame only had to clear the final obstacle to cost home by three and a half lengths from the staying-on Eldorado Allen with Ahoy Senor trailing home last of the five runners.

Paddy Power chopped Bravemansgame to 9-4 for the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Nicholls confirmed the Christmas showpiece is very much the target - and was also in doubt as to the regard in which he holds the winner.

He said: "He as good as any of them (his previous Charlie Hall winners). Cheltenham three and a quarter miles might not be his bag, but to me the King George is absolutely made for him. I've left plenty to work on for Kempton and he's a very smart horse when he's right.

"He's one of the best we've had on the right track - his record says that, he's right up there with the best we've had.

"You wouldn't (rule out the Gold Cup) with horses like him, but our aim has been the King George, to get him at his very best for that and after that see where we go.

"He's the sort of horse that could probably be suited by Leopardstown or Punchestown, there's some really good races we could go to. I'm not convinced Cheltenham in his track. (But) we're not thinking about Gold Cups, we're thinking about the King George."

He added: "Harry said that was the best feeling he's ever given him today - he felt he was in third gear all the way round. He jumped and galloped all the way to the line, so onwards and upwards.

"When he's right he's a decent horse and I'm learning all the time what to do with him. He doesn't want to run too often and we need to keep plenty of condition on him.

"He's won a Kauto Star and a Challow Hurdle and I think that today was probably as good a performance as he's ever produced.

"The last two weekends he's worked with Hitman and Monmiral and they both struggled to work with him, so he's obviously got that bit of class.

"Ahoy Senor obviously didn't run his race today for whatever reason, but our performance was just what we wanted to see."

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