bet365 Charlie Hall Chase (Grade2) 3m1f Wetherby Tips

The North Yorkshire venue stages “The Charlie Hall” on Saturday, the first big chase of the season and if the lack of rainfall in the Wetherby area doesn’t discourage any of the current 11 entries from participating, we could be in for a vintage renewal. The ground at the time of writing is described as Good and the Clerk of the course assures that watering will continue so Saturday’s ground shouldn’t have Firm anywhere in the description, which will be welcome news to Colin Tizzard, the trainer of the current favourite, Thistlecrack. Colin won with the marvellous Cue Card three years ago and he will be hoping that the 10yo Thistlecrack can bring the prize back to Milborne Port for a second time.

colin tizzard

Colin Tizzard aims for what would be a memorable double

 

A winner of 4 Grade1s over hurdles, (including The World Hurdle at Cheltenham 2016) he was a latecomer to chasing, winning at the first time of asking in October 2016 as an 8yo, and then demonstrating 2 months later, when winning Kempton’s
King George V1 Chase, that he was just as potent a force over the larger obstacles. Following a titanic battle with the late lamented, Many Clouds for Cheltenham’s Cotswold Chase 32 days later, he was beaten a Head, and was put on the easy list for 307 days. A disappointing reappearance at Newbury at the beginning of December was followed by a moderate 4th in The King George. He sustained a stress fracture in training and hasn’t been seen since, but trainer Tizzard reports him in great form for Saturday, and if back to his best will be hard to beat. However it has to be said that his odds of around 2/1 for an animal with plenty of question marks hanging over him, not least his liking for plenty of give, look decidedly skinny.

Nigel Twiston-Davies has won the race 3 times, twice with Ollie Magern and last year with Bristol De Mai and he will be hoping that the latter can put his last three disappointing efforts behind him and bring up win number 4 for the Naunton Handler. The popular grey won last year’s renewal from his stable companion, Blaklion, (rec6lbs) on his seasonal debut, and went on to beat Cue Card by an astonishing 57L 3 week’s later in Haydock’s Betfair Chase. The wheels appeared to have come off in his next two races, The King George and The Cotswold, but following wind surgery, and a 75 day break, he put up a better performance when finishing 2nd (Btn 7L) to Might Bite in an Aintree Grade1. Reports from Naunton are positive and if back to his best this still young chaser, (despite seeming to have been around for ages is only 7) will make them all go.

Connections of the 8yo, Double Shuffle will be hoping the rain stays away as 3m1f around Wetherby on good ground is probably as far as he wants to go. A son of that good National Hunt Stallion, Milan, he hasn’t won for nearly 2 years but ran a blinder when finishing 2nd, 1L behind Might Bite in last year’s King George. Both his 2 subsequent efforts were disappointing but trainer Tom George reports him in great form and as one who can go well after a break, (hasn’t raced for over 6 months) needs considering.

Paul Nicholls (pictured) has won the heat 3 times, twice with the Gold Cup winner,
See More Business in 1999 and 2000, and with Silviniaco Conti in 2012 so certainly knows what is required. paul nicholls charlie hallHis two representatives this time are the highly promising 6yo, Clan Des Obeaux, and the very consistent Black Corton. The former has won 3 of his 10 races over fences, and his penultimate effort, finishing 2nd to the useful
Guitar Pete, to whom he was conceding 22lbs in Cheltenham’s Caviar Gold Cup last December was particularly praiseworthy. Following a 117 day break he again ran well finishing 3rd, 10 1/4L behind Might Bite at Aintree. He is another who can go well fresh and won’t mind the ground. He is the type to continue to improve and with the yard going well is one for the shortlist.

2017 Charlie Hall Chase race preview.

The second Ditcheat contender,the wonderfully consistent 7yo, Black Corton is 8/13 over fences and 7 of these have been achieved with the talented Bryony Frost in the plate. The combination looked particularly good when winning the Grade1 Kauto Star
Novices Chase at Kempton last Christmas and he may have been feeling the effects of a long season when well beaten in his last two races both Grade 1s at the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals. Following a well deserved 6 months break we could well see a rejuvenated Black Corton resume his upwardly mobile trajectory.

Selection: Clan Des Obeaux (if abs Black Corton)
E.W.         : Double Shuffle

John Gray

Charlie Hall Chase Tips 3m1f Wetherby Saturday

Dynaste

David Pipe’s Dynaste ran some great races in defeat last term and is our selection for Saturday’s big one.

First run as the Wetherby Pattern Chase in 1969, it assumed it’s present title in 1990 and the roll of honour features some marvellous steeplechasers, including four Cheltenham Gold Cup winners, Davy Lad, Burrough Hill Lad, Forgive’n Forget, and See More Business. Ten pound penalties have to be carried by winners of a Class1 weight for age chase after 30th September 2014, and in the last eight renewals only last years winner, Menorah, has managed to win carrying this maximum impost. This always competitive race is run at a very strong pace putting emphasis on stamina as well as speed, underlined by the fact that nine of the last ten winners had winning form over at least three miles. Probably due to the less demanding nature of the Wetherby fences in recent years, less experienced animals have been making their mark and two six year olds have won two of the last three runnings. Plenty have won this on their seasonal debut so lack of a previous outing is no bar to success. Paul Nicholls has hit the back of the net on three occasions and both Pipe (Our Vic 2006) and Hobbs (Menorah 2014) have both won once.

The ten year old Menorah would be a very popular winner if he could repeat last years success, and judged on the way he beat Al Ferof at the end of April in his last race, his chances of doing so are by no means remote. However it is eleven years since a horse older than nine has won and as he is again burdened with the maximum penalty he may find Saturday’s test just beyond him.

Aintree hero, Many Clouds who has won first time out for the last two seasons, and only an eight year old, may well have many more big days ahead of him so has to be considered. Having won at Cheltenham in January, serious Gold Cup hopes were entertained only to be dashed by a lacklustre display on the big day. Never able to keep up with the murderous pace set by Coneygree he did stay on to finish sixth, but covered himself in glory four weeks later, when winning the Grand National by 1 3/4L from St Are. He seems to be an out and out stayer and burdened with the maximum penalty, Saturday’s contest is unlikely to play to his strengths.

David Pipe’s Dynaste ran some great races in defeat last term, not least when finishing second in the King George VI chase to Silviniaco Conti, with Al Ferof five lengths back in third, and Cue Card another three and a half lengths further behind in fifth. He also got to within 1 1/2L of Many Clouds, whom he meets on 10lbs better terms at the weekend, at Cheltenham at the end of January. The rest of his season was curtailed by injury and by all accounts he was disappointing on his reappearance in a Grade3 hurdle at Auteuil on very soft ground three weeks ago. However he has come on for a run in the past, and following injury too much may not have been expected. Unpenalised on Saturday he is definitely on the short list.

As a 6yo second season chaser, the Rebecca Curtis trained Irish Cavalier is of interest. Having won the novices handicap chase off a mark of 137 at the Cheltenham festival he kept himself busy at the Punchestown equivalent, running twice within three days. Thrown in at the deep end he ran a fine race to finish fourth, beaten less than 4 1/2L by Valseur Lido in the Grade1 novices chase, and again ran well three days later finishing second to Blood Cotillion. Progress had clearly been maintained when comfortably disposing of Henryville on his reappearance at Newton Abbot on October 9th, earning him a new rating of 156. Further improvement is required to win at the weekend but in the hands of his very talented trainer this is more than possible.

Cue Card has had a frustrating time since his last win in November 2013. Between stress fractures and breathing problems he has been something of a hospital case, but connections are now hopeful that his problems are behind him, and indeed his last two runs behind Don Cossack in the Spring were more promising. Colin Tizzard reports him to be putting in some sterling work at home, and racing unpenalised it would be no surprise to see him add to his already amazing winnings of nearly three quarters of a million pounds.

Having won the race three times Paul Nicholl’s Sam winner is worth a second look as he does seem to run his best races in the first half of the season, and he did win first time out last year. He is saddled with a 10lb penalty for his win at Aintree last December, but coming from this yard it would be no surprise to see him defy it and is another well worth considering.

Selection: Dynaste

E.W. : Sam Winner