Bravemansgame delivers star performance to win Charlie Hall Chase

Bravemansgame avenged his Aintree defeat at the hands of Ahoy Senor as he made a sparkling return in the 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 Bravemansgame who was cantering all over his rivals.

Taking it up two from home, Bravemansgame only had to clear the final obstacle to coast 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 reacted by chopping Bravemansgame to 9-4 for the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Nicholls confirmed the festive showpiece is very much the target – and was also in no doubt as to the regard in which he holds the winner. “He as good as any of [my previous Charlie Hall winners],” said the trainer. “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.”

Earlier, Gowel Road ran out an easy winner at Ascot as Goshen failed to fire on his debut over fences. All eyes were on the Gary Moore-trained horse – who suffered a famously unlucky last-flight mishap in the 2020 Triumph Hurdle when well clear – as he set out in a new sphere, with Jamie Moore’s mount the 11-8 favourite in a four-runner contest.

Everything seemed to be going to plan as Goshen set out in his customary enthusiastic fashion, but after Samarrive grabbed the initiative at the halfway stage in the two-mile-three-furlong contest, Moore’s runner started to drop away sharply.

Samarrive was travelling powerfully in front for Lorcan Williams and while Gowel Road was trying to keep pace, it looked a matter of when the Paul Nicholls-trained runner would kick on. However, he suffered a nasty fall at the penultimate obstacle, leaving Gowel Road to coast home by 18 lengths from Cobblers Dream, with Goshen persisting to finish a distant third, beaten by a further 47 lengths.

Moore said that while the ground had not been ideal, Goshen might ultimately be best returning to the smaller obstacles. “He’s probably not cut out as the make or shape of a chaser, although he schooled very well at home – it’s a bit different coming to racecourse when you’re put under pressure and today they were all in control of the race and we weren’t,” Moore told Sky Sports Racing. “I would give him one more chance [over fences] on very soft ground. To be fair, he’s got round today and it’s not the easiest place to get round, but he took a long time to do it and that’s no good.”