Irish Cavalier looks the value in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase by Oddsguru – Since its inception in 1969, The Charlie Hall Chase boasts an impressive roll of honour which includes four individual Cheltenham Gold Cup winners, Captain Christie, Burrough Hill Lad, Forgive ‘n Forget, and See More Business, (twice). The latter in 2000 was the last of this elite band, and sad to say, with the withdrawal of the 2015 Gold Cup winner, Coneygree, from Saturday’s contest, the score must remain at four. With the benefit of their new state of the art, all weather gallop, the Bradstocks were hopeful of getting their Cheltenham hero, who was the first novice since Captain Christy in 1974 to win The Gold Cup, to the start, but the dry Autumn has defeated them and we must wait until Haydock in three weeks time to see the exciting Coneygree’s return to action.
The wonderful Cue Card had gone nearly two years without hitting the back of the net when coming home in front in last year’s renewal, comfortably beating Dynaste. He then went on to record three Grade1 victories and as a result will be carrying the maximum 10lbs penalty on Saturday, leaving him with rather more to do than last year, when un-penalised, he had only 11st in the plate. Carrying the maximum penalty has been a definite negative, with only two managing to do so in the last decade, and indeed last year, of the three carrying the maximum impost, the best any of them could manage was 4th place. However following that unlucky fall in the Gold Cup, Cue Card was very impressive when beating Don Poli, Djakadam and Dynaste at Aintree, and probably had had enough for the season, when finishing 4th at Punchestown in April. The record of older horses is poor, and 10yo’s are 0 from 15 in the last ten years, and indeed only four have prevailed since 1981. However it will come as no great surprise if Colin Tizzard’s hero defies the stats.
Watch the 2015 Charlie Hall Chase here.
The Rebecca Curtis trained 7yo Irish Cavalier, finished off an otherwise disappointing campaign in great style when taking a highly competitive Punchestown handicap off a mark of 153, last April. Always going well throughout, he took it up after the second last and staying on really well won by 3 3/4L. He has never won beyond 21f but his very talented trainer, whose yard was under a cloud for most of last season, is hopeful that Saturday’s easy 3miles will be within his compass. With the stable in much better form now, plus the evidence of his 5th behind Don Cossack in The Gold Cup, and that strong finish at Punchestown, her optimism may prove well founded. He is the only runner in the field who has had the benefit of a recent run so is well worth considering.
It looks as if Virak will be the sole representative from the three times winning stable of Paul Nicholls and this 7yo will have to have improved a fair bit to figure, but coming from this yard that is not impossible. A winner of 4 of his 13 chases, including at Grade2 level, he hasn’t scored since April 2015, and having been beaten by an aggregate of nearly 40 lengths in his last three races is hard to recommend.
Second to Cue Card last year, the 10yo Dynaste has been a big disappointment, and hasn’t won since his Grade1 victory at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival. However he has had a wind operation over the summer, and if this previously very talented animal turns up on Saturday (also engaged Ascot), would be worth a second look.
Kim Bailey who won this three years ago with the 6yo Henry Topper, runs his Grand National runner up, The Last Samurai. He has had nearly 7 months to recover from his Aintree exertions, and if fit, could have a say on Saturday. As the Bailey team are amongst the winners, and The Last Samurai can go well after a break, the omens look good. He certainly doesn’t need extreme distances to show his best as we saw at Kempton last December when he quickened impressively inside the last furlong to take a 3m Class2 chase, or indeed when winning the 26f Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster in March.
The Philip Hobbs trained Menorah won the 2014 renewal, and though now 11, showed there was plenty of life in the old dog yet when winning a Sandown handicap (22 1/2f) off a mark of 165 last April. He was beaten in his next two races both over further than 3m, and the reality is that he barely gets 24f. Indeed his only win from 11 attempts at the distance was when he won that 2014 renewal, and it’s not impossible, that back on this easy three miles, this grand type could repeat the dose on Saturday.
The second Hobbs runner, Sausalito Sunrise went down with all guns blazing in the big (29f) end of season chase at Sandown in April when gallantly failing to give 14lbs and 16lbs to The Young Master and Just a Par off a mark of 159. He is another who can go well after a break, but is probably more effective over further.
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies reports last season’s RSA hero Blaklion in fine fettle for his seasonal debut, and granted ground no faster than good is an intended runner. If turning up, this tough and talented 7yo could give the Naunton handler his 5th success in the race. Successful twice at Grade2 level over hurdles, despite a blip in his second chase, the next five outings over the larger obstacles have shown him to be a champion in the making. The scintillating win over Shaneshill and More of That in the RSA at the Festival was particularly impressive. Already a course and distance winner at Wetherby he may prove too good for the older brigade at the weekend.
Selection: Irish Cavalier
Danger : Blaklion