• Racing/
  • Encore Set For Wetherby

William Hill Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 3m 1f

  • (4yo+, 3m 1f, Class 1, 8 runners)
  • Winner £22,780 2nd £8,548 3rd £4,280 4th £2,132 5th £1,072 6th £536
  • Going: Soft, Good to Soft in places
  • Surface: Turf
Weighed In:
  • Off time: 13:45:19
Full result
Result 13:45 Wetherby
Pos Horse Distance/th> Odds
1st 5 Cloudy Too 11/4
2nd 10 Tullamore Dew 10 8/1
3rd 2 Cape Tribulation 6/1
  • Last Updated: December 23 2013, 14:00 GMT

Grand National hero Auroras Encore starts on the road back to Aintree in the William Hill Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at Wetherby on Boxing Day.

Auroras Encore: National winner
Auroras Encore: National winner

Trainer Sue Smith fears the ground will be too soft for the 11-year-old, who became the first Yorkshire-based horse to win the world's greatest steeplechase since 1960 when springing a 66-1 surprise.

However, Auroras Encore is likely to take his chance as the race fits well as a starting point for another crack at the National.

"I think the gods are conspiring against us (with the weather). The little horse is in good form. He probably will run, we have to make a start somewhere. It's one of those things," said the Bingley handler.

Smith feels testing conditions will suit her other runner, Cloudy Too. The seven-year-old made a winning reappearance at Carlisle and was not disgraced when unplaced in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury.

"He should love it. He copes with the ground and he's won around Wetherby before," said Smith.

"He's got into jumping very well and we've got young Jonathan England back on him. We've hopeful of a good run from him.

"He ran very well for a long way in the Hennessy. In all fairness we were very pleased with him. He's only a second-season horse over fences and I thought he put up pretty good performance really."

Cape Tribulation was also down the field in the Hennessy, but he too will relish conditions and won this race 12 months ago.

His trainer Malcolm Jefferson reports the nine-year-old to be in tip-top shape.

"He's in good form and he's come to himself now and he should like the ground. It's a good race, they all are like this," said the North Yorkshire handler.

Cape Tribulation will be ridden for the first time by Harry Skelton, fresh from his victory on Willow's Savour for his brother Dan in the Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday.

"There wasn't a lot available - Denis (O'Regan) couldn't ride him, Brian (Hughes) is at Sedgefield, Jack Doyle is at Wincanton and Harry's riding very well."

Lucinda Russell had considered waiting for the Coral Welsh National on Saturday for Nuts N Bolts, but underfoot conditions have persuaded connections to go for this race over a less exacting distance.

"We thought about the Welsh National for him, but heavy ground has taken us away from that," said the Kinross trainer.

"Three miles on soft is OK. I just didn't want to run him on it over the mammoth Welsh National trip. He should be fine and seems in really good form."

Fergal O'Brien has warned he will not run last month's Cheltenham winner Alvarado if the ground is much worse than good to soft.

"He's in good form, he came out of Cheltenham really well, but if we get too much more rain he won't go anywhere," said O'Brien.

"Good to soft is fine, but he wouldn't want it much softer than that."

A smart field also features the Donald McCain-trained Sydney Paget, the winner of a good handicap at Haydock last month and a long-time ante-post fancy for the Welsh National.

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