Irish Cavalier the value in bet365 Charlie Hall Chase

irish-cavalier-the-value-in-bet365-charlie-hall-chase
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

Crabbie’s Grand National Tips 2016

Crabbie’s Grand National 4m 3 1/2f Aintree Saturday – Our e.w. selection, Saint Are, gave us a great run for our money, finishing second in last year’s renewal of the great race, at the rewarding odds of 40/1, so let’s hope we can go one better this time.

The 2015 winner Many Clouds carried 11st 9lbs to victory, the highest since Red Rum in 1974, and this year heads up the weights with 11st 10lbs. His preparation last year had been geared towards the Gold Cup ( in which he finished a well beaten 6th ), and his participation at Aintree was something of an afterthought, so this time, with his programme aimed specifically at the National can we expect a repeat? Well he did win his prep race at Kelso, a contest he was fully entitled to collect, comfortably enough in early March, but interestingly the time gap between that race and Aintree is not much different than last year’s interval between the Gold Cup and the National. This years renewal of the Aintree Spectacular is reckoned to be one of the “classiest” of recent years, at least a 3lbs better race than last year, so arguably Many Clouds needs to improve again to carry top weight to victory. Having said that he does have a lot in his favour and deserves his place at the top of the market.

Many doubters had to eat their words when Paul Nicholls’ wonderful 10yo Silviniaco Conti hosed up in the Betfair Ascot Chase in Febuary, having previously been pulled up in the King George at Kempton. This marvellous racehorse who has won eight times at Grade 1 level and amassed over £1,000,000 in prize money is certainly not finished yet, and has to be on the short list.

Ucello Conti is a half brother to the above paragon, and in the hands of master trainer Gordon Elliott, responsible for the 2007 winner, Silver Birch, also has plenty to recommend him. Previously trained in France, and a winner of over £250,000 in prize money, he won at his first attempt over the larger obstacles as a 3yo way back in 2011, and has only come to grief once in his subsequent sixteen chases. His three runs for Elliott have included a 2nd in the Paddy Power at Leopardstown and a 3rd in the Thyestes at Gowran Park showing steady progress, and earning him a rating of 149, giving him an assured place in Saturday’s line up. His trainer thinks him a “natural” for Aintree so at current odds of 33/1 is worth considering.

It must seem an eternity to trainer Kim Bailey since the glory days of 1990 and 1995 when he won the National with Mr Frisk, the Champion Hurdle with Alderbrook, and the Gold Cup with Master Oats, but perhaps with the talented 8yo The Last Samurai the good times may be here again. He was no slouch when trained by Donald McCain last year winning three of his five starts, but in the care of Mr Bailey his form hit a new high when impressively winning The Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster last time out. The Doncaster race has been a good guide in the past with three winners, Ben Nevis, Corbiere,and Amberleigh House going on to victory at Aintree. With just 10st8lbs to carry The Last Samurai looks really well treated and is short listed.

There is something in the Merseyside air that brings out the best in Saint Are as he seems to reserve his best for Aintree. A winner of a Grade1 hurdle here as a 5yo, he has also won a Class1 chase over the Mildmay course, and last years second in the National itself was outstanding. His handler, Tom George says that he is a”Spring” horse, confirmed by his recent Doncaster success. Definitely worth considering!

For a horse with such an impressive C.V. the Willie Mullins trained Sir Des Champs looks well treated with just 10st13lbs on his back. He had a great season in 2013 winning the Grade1 Hennessy Gold Cup, coming second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and winning the Punchestown equivalent. Unfortunately he was injured in the same years Lexus, and was off the course for 700 days. He reappeared last November at Thurles and seemed to have retained plenty of enthusiasm when winning easily. He has been disappointing in his two subsequent runs on very holding ground in the Lexus and Hennessy at Leopardstown but he is a horse who probably needs decent ground to show his best and may well find his ideal conditions on Saturday.

Another who returned to action after a long break is P Fahy’s 9yo Morning Assembly. Off for 20 months he reappeared at Fairyhouse in January and finishing strongly he went down by a head. He was second again at Gowran Park in Febuary and ran his best race last time when finishing 4th of 23 at the Cheltenham festival to Un Temp Pour Tout. Ridden by the shrewd Davy Russell he is worth a second look.

By the same sire Dom Alco, and in the same ownership as the 2012 winner Neptune Collonges, the Paul Nicholls trained Unioniste has possibilities. Attempting last year to be the first 7yo since Bogskar won in 1940 to collect he fell, but, as he was probably attempting the impossible anyhow with 11st 6lbs in the plate, and as this was his only lapse in twenty races, he is easily forgiven. He did his prospects no harm when finishing second to Many Clouds at Kelso last time, and this year, he is much more realistically weighted with 10st8lbs. With another year on his back he looks set to run a big race and could well tie up this years trainers championship for P.Nicholls.

Selection : The Last Samurai

E.W. : Unioniste