sport

Fry in Chief challenge

Harry Fry fears Bold Chief may have his work cut out after a big rise in the weights ahead of the Levy Board Handicap Chase at Haydock.

The nine-year-old has an impressive strike-rate over fences, winning four of his five starts under Rules, and his liking for good ground meant he was put away over the winter.

He returned to action at Uttoxeter last month and, under a positive ride from Noel Fehily, never saw another rival in winning by six lengths.

However, Fry thinks plenty was in his favour that day and those advantages have been wiped out.

"He did it well but he was a fresh horse taking on plenty who had been running in heavy ground all season," said Fry.

"The ground had dried out more than we expected and he handled it far better than most.

"He's gone up 8lb and is now in a better race but there's very good prize money for this time of year so we'll see how he gets on.

"This is an altogether more competitive race, as you'd expect, but with Cloudy Too running we get to race off a nice weight.

"Life will be tougher for him now but we didn't run him all winter with the aim of a summer campaign and that is what he'll have, he'll need to step up again, though.

"He took to fences great but he'd come from Richard (Barber) and the English point-to-point scene so he had a good grounding.

Cloudy Too ran in the Gold Cup for Sue Smith and had previously finished second to Captain Chris in Grade One company. Smith also runs No Planning.

Colin Tizzard's veteran Hey Big Spender runs, as does David PIpe's novice Shotavodka, Oliver Sherwood's Beforeall and the Donald McCain-trained Our Mick.

Grand National winner trainer Dr Richard Newland saddles Mart Lane while Peter Bowen, who won the Scottish version with Al Co, is represented by Kian's Delight.

Evan Williams admits the good prize money on offer in the totescoop6 The Millionaire Maker Handicap Chase has forced a change of plan with King Massini.

Quietly fancied for the Bayliss & Harding Handicap at the Cheltenham Festival, the eight-year-old came down early in the contest.

Previously he had won three out of four and looked progressive.

Williams had been targeting the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown next week but when he saw the value of the Grassroots Series Final he felt it would be remiss of him not to run.

"We were planning to wait for the Whitbread (bet365 Gold Cup) with him, but this race on Saturday came up and it's too big a prize to miss," said the Welsh handler.

"It's worth 50,000 and it's a race you have to qualify for. Once we found out he'd qualified, we thought we'd be daft not to give it a go.

"He could go to Sandown the following week as well, but we'll see what happens on Saturday first.

"He is in serious order at the moment."

Topping the weights is the Venetia Williams-trained Shangani, winner of the Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury but unplaced behind Ballynagour at Cheltenham.

Alan King's Midnight Sail is another leading contender after a good win at Kempton while Nigel Twiston-Davies is three-handed with Frontier Spirit, Wood Yer and Hollow Blue Sky.