The Charlie Hall Chase (3.20, Saturday) is a Grade 2 Chase run over 3-miles at Wetherby. It is usually regarded as the curtain-raiser for the National Hunt season, and the first opportunity to see some of the star 3-mile chasers in action.
No trainer has trained more than one winner in the last 10 years, though the represented Pipe, Nicholls, Twiston-Davies, Hobbs and Tizzard stables have all won it once in that period. Meanwhile, Paddy Brennan is the only jockey to have ridden two winners of the race in the last decade.
Six horses have won the race twice, with 3 of those winning it in consecutive years, and three returning to win it again two years later. 4 of the last 10 winners carried just 11-0, whilst of the other 6 winners were, two each carried 11-5, 11-6 and 11-10.
7 runners are set to go to post for the 2016 Charlie Hall Chase
Last year’s winner needs little introduction, and he’s officially 13lb and upwards better than all his rivals, even taking into account the penalty system. A slight negative is no 10-year-old has won the race in the last decade, but 10-year-olds did win in 2000, 2002 and 2004. Also, he only had to carry 11-0 last year, and this will be his prep race before defending his Betfair Chase title – but he will be difficult to beat if at his best.
Won the 2014 renewal on similar ground, but pulled-up last year after a bad blunder on soft ground he doesn’t relish. Could put up a better show this year back on better ground, with his stable in great form, but is now an 11-year-old.
His trainer Rebecca Curtis has started the season in great form, but this one has fallen just short at this kind of level so far. Only 7 though, so could improve, but needs to.
Won two big handicaps last year on soft/heavy ground, but pulled-up in two attempts in graded company. Won at Wetherby before, but hard to make a solid case for.
Impressive course and distance winner of a grade-2 novice chase last year, and then proved that was no fluke by winning the RSA at the Cheltenham Festival. The Twiston-Davies stable have also made an excellent start to the season, and have won 4 of the last 24 renewals. He’s also won on 2 of his 3 seasonal debuts, and probably would have made it 3 from 3 but for falling at the second-last at Cheltenham last year.
Generally disappointing last season, but ran his best race in the 2015 renewal of this race. Beaten 3¾-lengths by Cue Card there off level-weights, he theoretically has a good chance at the weights with a 10lb pull, though he looked in decline for much of last season.
Twice finished second to Wakanda last season, and is weighted to reverse the form here. Never considered to be this class so far in his career though, but could still have improvement to come at the age of 7.
Charlie Hall Chase Tip
Cue Card should win this on the ratings, but I don’t want to be taking odds-on about a horse with bigger targets ahead of him as he may not be fully wound-up. Therefore, I’m willing to take a chance on Blaklion who comes from a stable that likes to target this meeting, is proven over course and distance, and has the potential to improve again this season.
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