Last year’s Grand National winner One For Arthur features among 18 entries for the £45,000 G3 racingtv.com Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase (2.10pm), highlight on day one of the Yorkshire Christmas Meeting at Wetherby on Boxing Day, Wednesday 26th December.
Lucinda Russell’s stable star became only the second Scottish-trained winner of the Aintree showpiece when beating Cause Of Causes by four and a half lengths in April, 2017, but missed the whole of last season with a tendon injury. The nine-year-old returned to action in the G2 Many Clouds Chase at Aintree on 8th December, when he unseated Tom Scudamore at the third fence.
His opposition could include Gold Present (Nicky Henderson), successful in a valuable Listed handicap chase at Ascot 12 months ago, and G3 handicap chase victor Thomas Patrick (Tom Lacey), who was pulled up on his latest outing when favourite for the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on 1st December.
Wakanda (Sue Smith) went down by a head in last season’s racingtv.com Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase before going on to gain the biggest success of his career to date in the Listed Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster the following month. The nine-year-old was also runner-up in the 2016 racingtv.com Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase.
Bingley-based Smith has also entered Vintage Clouds, who was third in both the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and the Scottish Grand National last season. The eight-year-old made a winning seasonal return when gamely taking a competitive handicap chase at Haydock Park on 24th November.
Gloucestershire-based trainer Kim Bailey has been enjoying a fine season so far and enjoyed a successful trip to Yorkshire on 15th December when landing a G2 novices’ chase at Doncaster with Rocky’s Treasure. Bailey is considering another trip north with the talented Wanderin Star. The seven-year-old has won two of his three starts this season, most recently sauntering to a 14-length victory in a three-mile handicap chase at Bangor on 1st December. He begun the year with a 22-length success over the same course and distance on 3rd October.
Bailey reported: “I have entered Wanderin Star and Wetherby is an option for him. I need to have a look at the race before I decide whether to run, as he will also be entered for Kempton the following day.
“His two wins this season have been very impressive. It is hard to judge what they are really like, but I can’t complain about what he has done so far.
“He has earned a step up in class for a race like the Rowland Meyrick. I need to look at both races and come to a decision over the next few days.
“He is a horse I always thought wanted what I would call proper jumping ground.”
Other contenders include the first two home in the Listed Rehearsal Handicap Chase at Newcastle on 1st December – Lake View Lad (Nick Alexander) and Captain Chaos (Dan Skelton) – plus Ladbrokes Trophy seventh Allyson Monterg (Richard Hobson).
Last year’s fifth Baywing (Nicky Richards) subsequently won the prestigious Eider Handicap Chase at Newcastle, while Milansbar (Neil King) also boasts good form in staying chases, having finished second in the Listed Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter in March.
A seven-race card on Boxing Day also includes £11,600 Yorkshire Christmas Family Fun Handicap Chase (1.35pm), which has 17 entries including last year’s racingtv.com Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase winner Get On The Yager (Dan Skelton).
The racing continues at Wetherby with a further six races on Thursday, 27th December, when the feature contest is the two-mile £25,000 racingtv.com Castleford Handicap Chase (2.15pm) – a race that is set to feature Lady Buttons (Philip Kirby).
The talented eight-year-old is unbeaten in two starts this season, having following up victory in the Listed OLBG.com Mares’ Hurdle at Wetherby on 5th November with a comfortable success in a Newbury handicap chase on 1st December.
Premier admission tickets for 26th December have SOLD OUT, with limited availability for 27th December, when tickets may sell out on the day at the turnstiles. Paddock & Course Enclosure admissions will be available both days at the turnstiles.
Accompanied children aged 17 and under are admitted FREE of charge to all enclosures.
Gates open at 10am on both days, with complimentary mulled wine and mince pies served to earlycomers.
Racegoers are encouraged to arrive early on Boxing Day as traffic can build up between 11am and noon, the time of the first of the seven races.
A free shuttle bus service to and from Wetherby town centre will operate during the Yorkshire Christmas Meeting, before and after racing. Further information can be found online at https://www.wetherbyracing.co.uk/tother-stuff/how-to-find-us/