Sport Horse Racing

Tuesday 16 January 2018

Morris weighing up Wetherby tilt for China Rock

Thomas Kelly

Mouse Morris is giving strong consideration to sending China Rock to Wetherby for the Charlie Hall Chase on Saturday week.

The seven-year-old is unbeaten in two starts this month and proved much too strong for Irish Independent Arkle Trophy winner Sizing Europe at Punchestown last week.

Morris has tasted success in West Yorkshire before and could send China Rock across the Irish Sea to line up in the track's early-season feature.

"I couldn't be happier with him at the moment, but we haven't made a definite decision where he'll run," said Morris.

"We'll have a look and see what's in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby, he could go for that. I've had a few runners there down the years and it's been a lucky track for me."

The Tipperary trainer was also able to provide a positive update on Venalmar, which finished an excellent third at Navan last time on his return from nearly a year off the track: "He's going to run in Galway on Monday and we were thrilled with his run at Navan -- Ruby (Walsh) was even more thrilled."

Former Cheltenham winner Captain Cee Bee could start the winter campaign with a run in the Poplar Square Chase at Naas on Saturday week. Trainer Eddie Harty is considering the Grade Three contest for JP McManus' smart gelding, which signed off in the spring with victory in the Ryanair Novice Chase at Punchestown.

"The Poplar Square is an ideal race to start him off, being over two miles and for second season novices," said Harty. "He's in good form but will need some rain to go there."

Trafford Lad, meanwhile, is due to make his long-awaited return to action against the likes of Kauto Star and Sizing Europe in the Champion Chase at Down Royal on November 6.

The eight-year-old is a Grade One winner over both hurdles and fences but a leg injury has kept him off the track for almost a year.

Trainer Lar Butler, whose family own the gelding, has been delighted with how he has fared since returning to work and is keeping his fingers crossed he stays in one piece this season.

"He's in very good form. He did a piece of work on Tuesday and I was very happy," said Butler. "We've entered him for James Nicholson and, weather permitting, that's where he'll go.

"I know Kauto Star and Sizing Europe have been pencilled in for it, but when ever you run in these big races you're going to run into some good ones. Touch wood, he's been perfect since he came back."

Elsewhere, Barry Geraghty has been booked to ride the Paul Nicholls-trained Poquelin in Saturday's Old Roan Chase at Aintree.

Irish Independent

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