The 3m Grade 3 Rowland Meyrick Chase is the feature handicap in the north of England on Boxing Day at Wetherby (2:10). Nine of the 10 declared runners in this year’s renewal have just 9lb between them on official ratings, so it is a fiendishly competitive event. Check out the Rowland Meyrick Chase tips from SportsLens experts below…
Seven-year-olds have a particularly strong recent record in this race. Since 2008 (and there have been three abandonments for frost and waterlogging in that time), seven winners came from that age bracket. The favourite has only obliged twice in nine runnings since 2011, so looking beyond the market leader on horse racing betting sites may be wise.
Race-fit horses tend to win the Rowland Meyrick Chase with eight of the last nine successful coming to Wetherby off at least two runs. In terms of official ratings, only once has the winner had a mark of higher than 148 in those recent renewals. That suggests the top four horses in the weights this year may be handicapped out of contention.
For useful trials, look no further than the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle. That Listed handicap has produced the Rowland Meyrick winner three times in the last five years, but it’s not always the winner that punters should be looking at. That is enough stats and trends to digest over Christmas, so which horses make our experts’ shortlist? Let’s find out…
Why Silver Hallmark is favourite in the Rowland Meyrick betting
Fergal O’Brien has had 85 winners in the jumps campaign up to Boxing Day and runs Silver Hallmark here. A lightly-raced son of Shirocco, this seven-year-old was supposed to run in the December Gold Cup at Cheltenham but didn’t take his chance. Silver Hallmark prefers softer going and lowered the colours of McFabulous is a Chepstow maiden hurdle a couple of years ago.
He has only had four starts since, often bumping into Fiddlerontheroof, who was a gallant runner-up in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury last month. When not in direct competition with Colin Tizzard’s charge, however, Silver Hallmark landed the Grade 2 Altcar Novices’ Chase at Haydock in January. He can race off an unchanged mark of 145 from that day here too.
It’s clear that Silver Hallmark hasn’t been the easiest to train but there is ability there. With so little racing under his belt, he remains open to loads of further progress. At 10/3 with William Hill, the bookies fear Silver Hallmark now stepped up in trip to 3m under Rules for the first time. It should be no problem for him based on his Irish Point success with the owners’ retained rider Adam Wedge coming up to take the ride.
Good Boy Bobby ticks some boxes
O’Brien mentor Nigel Twiston-Davies has never won the Rowland Meyrick Chase but Good Boy Bobby has claims of giving him a maiden success. Owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, this eight-year-old Flemensfirth gelding won a Listed handicap on the first day of Charlie Hall meeting here at the end of October.
Good Boy Bobby has since gone down fighting by a head in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle. Although up 5lb in the weights for a defeat, he represents the best of that form. As noted above, that Listed handicap has become a key trial for this race. He may be 8lb higher than his course win but Good Boy Bobby remains unexposed as a stayer over fences.
His stamina laden pedigree suggests this trip is no problem. Good Boy Bobby also boast an excellent record of three wins from four career starts at Wetherby. With William Hill and other online bookies paying four places on the Rowland Meyrick Chase this year, odds of 6/1 may be a free each way bet.
Empire Steel also appeals in Rowland Meyrick Chase
Scottish trainer Sandy Thomson does well with his string and runs Empire Steel here. This seven-year-old grey gelding bumped into a race-fit rival when second on reappearance at Haydock, so should come on for that. Empire Steel is two from five over fences and left Protektorat for dead on his most recent success in this sphere at Kelso. That form has been advertised in spades by the runner-up since.
Protektorat has won twice at Aintree since, building on his Grade 1 Manifesto Novices’ Chase triumph in the spring with victory in the Many Clouds earlier this month. Although pulled-up during the Grand National Festival, Empire Steel shaped as if something was a miss. When he returned to action at Merseyside’s other horse racing venue, Haydock, last month, he ran well in defeat.
Empire Steel conceded a stone-and-a-half, as well as race fitness, to Strictlyadancer who had landed two amateur jockeys’ races at Cheltenham in the autumn. The handicapper has put him just 1lb for chasing that one home. Empire Steel should strip fitter for that and looks to have plenty going for him at 6/1 with William Hill each way here.
Cloudy Glen badly handicapped after Newbury triumph
The colours of the late Trevor Hemmings will be carried by both 2018 Rowland Meyrick Chase winner Lake View Lad and Ladbrokes Trophy hero Cloudy Glen. The latter is the shorter price but has a 10lb rise in the handicap for his Newbury success. It’s a savage rise Venetia Williams’ eight-year-old son of Cloudings, who only held on by half-a-length from Fiddlerontheroof.
Cloudy Glen has only ever backed-up a race once and that was off the same rating after winning a conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle. Although the front two in the Ladbrokes Trophy pulled 28 lengths and upwards clear of the remainder, it looks a big ask to follow-up in this. Williams remains in good form but the race may be on the sharp side for Cloudy Glen.
His last two wins have come over 3m 2f and an extended 3m 3f. That is probably why Cloudy Glen is as big as 6/1 with Bet365 to go in again. He makes little appeal in handicapping terms. Lake View Lad, meanwhile, is rising 12 and still 2lb higher in the weights than his success over course and distance three years ago.
2021 Rowland Meyrick Chase Tips & Shortlist
- Empire Steel *****
- Good Boy Bobby ****
- Silver Hallmark ****
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