The Charlie Hall Chase (Saturday 4 November, 3.15) is traditionally the National Hunt Season’s first opportunity to see some of England’s top chasers. Indeed, since it was first run in 1978, its role of honour has included dual winners Wayward Lad, Celtic Shot, Barton Bank and One Man, whilst more recently King George winners Silviniaco Conti and Cue Card have also won. The race is open to horses aged 5 or older, and is run over 3-miles and 1-furlong at Wetherby.
The last 10 winners have been aged 6 to 9, with 9-year-olds winning 4 renewals
4 of the last 10 winners have carried 11-0, 3 have carried 11-6
SPs of the last 10 winners have ranged from 11/10 to 16/1
Nigel Twiston-Davies is the joint leading all-time trainer with 4 winners
Paddy Brennan has ridden 2 of the last 10 winners
Bristol De Mai
Nigel Twiston-Davies trained 6-year-old who looks sure to keep improving over the next few seasons. However, all his best form has come at Haydock on softer ground, and he’s wrong at the weights with several of today’s rivals.
Bids to become only the third horse older than 10 to win the Charlie Hall Chase, but did win it 2 years ago as a 9-year-old when he only had to carry 11-0. Couldn’t repeat the feat last year when carrying 11-10, but comes out the second-best horse at the weights here even though he’s carrying 11-6. Won 5-times on seasonal debut, and stable has had a couple of winners in last few days.
Sent-off second-favourite for Grand National last season after winning chases off marks of 141 and 149, and now finds himself rated 159. Further improvement possible, but quite a bit to find at these weights. Stable having plenty of winners.
Picked up a nice handicap at Cheltenham last season, but was beaten 15-lengths off level-weight by Cue Card later in the season. Having first run for new trainer here, but needs to prove stamina and has to improve on all known form.
Vieux Lion Rouge
Won two Grand National Trials off marks of 142 and 146, but couldn’t win the Grand National off 149. Now rated 154, and this looks a big ask against Grade 1 horses.
Course and distance winner who looked sure to win the Grand National last season until his stamina ran out. Form also ties in closely with Definitely Red and Vieux Lion Rouge, but again likely to find it tough against the likes of Cue Card and Coneygree.
Beaten 15-lengths by Cue Card in last season’s Betfair Chase, but the heavy ground was just too heavy for him to show his best after a year off. Not easy to train, with just 13-runs in his career, but this former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner looks to have ideal conditions, and should make them all go with bottom-weight of 11-0 – making him the pick of the official weights.
Another who couldn’t handle the demands of the Grand National, but showed no ill effects when a good second when giving weight away on his reappearance. 13lb to find with Coneygree.
Big disappointment on reappearance, and I doubt this bold front-runner will enjoy taking on Coneygree for the lead.
Won handicap chase off 142 when last seen, but that leaves him with loads to find at this level.
The Charlie Hall field is mainly made up of handicappers who, whilst still having room for improvement, will need to find quite a bit if Coneygree and Cue Card are anywhere near their best, especially as both have been rated much higher than their current marks in their prime. However, it’s Coneygree who comes out best at the weights, and a under what look his ideal conditions, he probably only needs to repeat the form of this third in the Punchestown Gold Cup when last seen to win.