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Second-season chaser 'ready for university'.

Byline: CONTENDER Weird Al

CARLISLE may just have been the place to be on Halloween - not to find ghosts and ghouls but to find the winners of the first two big handicap chases of the season.

Little Josh used the intermediate chase on the card as a steppingstone to success in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham a fortnight ago, and now Weird Al, who dead-heated with him 27 days ago, bids to follow suit in the Hennessy Gold Cup.

The stout finish that caught Little Josh on the line that afternoon preserved the only unbeaten record over jumps in today's field as Weird Al had won all four of his previous starts - three out of three in a successful first season as a chaser, which was cut short when injury prevented his tackling the RSA Chase at Cheltenham.

This race has been planned for his belated crack at the top chasers all season, and his preparation has gone pretty much exactly as trainer Ian Williams would have hoped.

"I am very happy with him," he said yesterday. "It is a big day for all concerned and we are all looking forward to it.

"It is the step up to university - we think he is ready for it, so we will see what happens.

"There are a lot of very good horses in the race, it is a quality field. There are some very good, proven horses and a lot of potentially very good horses - it is a high-class Hennessy field."

David Carr WHAT YOU SAY ONLINE VOTING Who will win the Hennessy Gold Cup? Denman 27% Weird Al 21% Pandorama 11% Burton Port 10% Diamond Harry 9% Big Fella Thanks 5% Madison Du Berlais 5% Taranis 4% Neptune Collonges 3% Silver By Nature 3% Carruthers 1% Hey Big Spender 1% Dream Alliance 0% Razor Royale 0% Barbers Shop 0% The Tother One 0% Hills Of Arran 0% Niche Market 0%

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Weird Al: holds the only unbeaten record over fences in the Hennessy field
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Nov 27, 2010
Words:337
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