Weird Al is back on song after beating bad luck

The fact of the old buildings at Wetherby being once used as a wartime hospital had a certain ring yesterday. In winning the Charlie Hall Chase, Weird Al put his career back on course after suffering a bone fracture, undergoing surgery to aid his breathing and recovering from an illness earlier this year. Time For Rupert, who finished second, was treated for a lung infection during the summer. And Diamond Harry, who would have started favourite had he run, missed the race after a minor injury to a leg during his overnight stay at the West Yorkshire track.

Weird Al, who was shaping to be one of the best staying novices two seasons ago before his first physical blip, was transferred last month by his owners from Ian Williams to the higher-profile operation of Donald McCain, who was quick to acknowledge his professional colleague after the eight-year-old's three and a half-length success.

"I can't take all the credit," he said. "He came to me looking a million dollars and this race had been his target since before he arrived. It's been well-documented that he is a horse with issues and we just needed to get him racing again before any plans could be made."

Timmy Murphy, in Weird Al's saddle for the first time, gave the 7-1 shot a peach of a ride, easing quietly into contention on the second circuit before heading Time For Rupert, the 11-8 market leader, two fences from home. He has been introduced into the market for the Cheltenham Gold Cup – in which he broke a blood vessel last season – at around 16-1.

Despite his defeat Time For Rupert remains at around 12-1 second choice behind Long Run for the Cheltenham crown. "Not too disappointed," said trainer Paul Webber of the seven-year-old, who made much of the running yesterday. "He'll tighten up a hell of a lot for that, and the winner is a decent horse."

No horse has yet won a Charlie Hall Chase and a Gold Cup in the same season. And if there was a challenge to Long Run's supremacy at the top of the chasing tree, it may be one further down the line. Restless Harry put his rivals to the sword in the Grade 2 feature hurdle, running as a stopgap as firm ground had thwarted his preparation as a chaser. After the seven-year-old came in 20 lengths clear of Fair Along under Henry Oliver, his trainer Robin Dickin echoed many thoughts when he said: "The sky could be the limit if he takes to fences."

Though good-class jumpers are starting to quicken interest in their branch of the sport, the mainstream Flat season is by no means done with yet. This afternoon at Leopardstown, Sea The Stars' two-year-old half-brother Born To Sea, favourite since his winning debut to emulate his celebrity sibling in the 2,000 Guineas, will face six rivals and a grandstand of expectation in the Killavullan Stakes. Then on Tuesday a record 11 European raiders will challenge for Australia's greatest prize, the Melbourne Cup; and on Friday and Saturday So You Think, Goldikova and Strong Suit lead the attack from these parts on the $25 million on offer at the 28th Breeders' Cup meeting at Churchill Downs.

Flat jockeys' champion Paul Hanagan, with a double at Ayr yesterday, goes into the final week of his title defence four ahead of Sylvestre de Sousa, who had a winner at Newmarket but will miss two days to ride at Flemington. The five-day ban Hanagan picked up when winning on Docs Legacy will not kick in until after their battle is over.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas