Charlie Hall Chase Date is Saturday, 31st October 2020
Type: Grade 2 National Hunt Steeplechase Race
Age Of The Horses: For Five Year Olds And Up
Distance: 3 Miles & 45 Yards
Charlie Hall Chase
With horses not yet fully race-fit for the season and with 18 fences to be jumped, the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby over 3 miles is a genuine test of a steeplechaser.
The race has been on the go since 1969 and has always been thought of as a genuine Gold Cup trial. It has Grade 2 status, a £100,000 prize fund and this year will be run on Saturday October 31st.
The Charlie Hall, at least among its winners as you’ll see below, hasn’t had the best record in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in recent times but yet it is always contested by top quality horses and it would be folly to dismiss any placed finishers in this race in the context of the Blue Riband at Cheltenham in March.
1985 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Forgive ‘n Forget made his reappearance in this race in 1986, winning it, but Wetherby is itching for a Charlie Hall winner to go to score in the big one.
Charlie Hall Chase 2020 Result
What Happened in 2020?
Cyrname had never won a race on a left-handed track like Wetherby before, nor had he previously proven that he possessed sufficient stamina to win an event like the Charlie Hall Chase over 3 miles. With those doubts hanging like a cloud over him, he was weak in the betting after being rerouted to West Yorkshire instead of heading over to Northern Ireland for the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal. However, the officially highest rated steeplechaser in training silenced all his critics and laid down a marker which opens up all sorts of possibilities.
Sent off a relatively weak 3/1 when you consider that he had been offered at half that price by bookmakers in the ante post market when it opened, Cyrname jumped for fun around Wetherby in the hands of Harry Cobden. As the locally trained duo Sam Spinner (pulled up) and Defintly Red (last of eight finishers) both disappointed on the day, it fell instead to Paul Nicholls. The Ditcheat maestro landed this race for the fourth time. Cyrname was fluent clearing the fences when many of his rival weren’t.
His free going style of racing did leave those who had backed him wondering if there would be anything left for the finish. It was in truth a comfortable two-length victory over 2/1 favourite Vinndication from the in-form Kim Bailey Stable with Cyrname value for plenty more than the winning margin. Harriet Graham’s 12/1 chance Aye Right ran a fine race in third, beaten by a further five lengths. Cyrname had the field well strung out as Ballyoptic, a previous winner of the Charlie Hall Chase, failed to complete.
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Charlie Hall Chase 2020 Runners & Favourites (Upd. 27/10/2020)
There are 20 horses entered in the 2020 Charlie Hall Chase ahead of final declarations. That is more than recent seasons. Provided the race doesn’t cut up, there could be a bigger field than normal. It will be made up of these horses:
- Alpha Des Obeaux (Gordon Elliott)*
- Aso (Venetia Williams)**
- Aye Right (Harriet Graham)***
- Ballyoptic (Nigel Twiston-Davies)
- Bellshill (Sandy Thomson)
- Black Corton (Paul Nicholls)**
- Blaklion (Dan Skelton)**
- Cyrname (Paul Nicholls)* **
- Definitly Red (Brian Ellison)
- Keeper Hill (Warren Greatrex)
- Might Bite (Nicky Henderson)**
- Mister Whitaker (Mick Channon)
- Saint Xavier (Richard Hobson)
- Sam Spinner (Jedd O’Keeffe)
- Slate House (Colin Tizzard)
- Smooth Stepper (Alex Hales)
- The Storyteller (Gordon Elliott)*
- Vinndication (Kim Bailey)**
- La Bague Au Roi (Warren Greatrex)
- Shattered Love (Gordon Elliott)*
*holds an early closing entry in the Down Royal Champion Chase on the same day
** holds an entry in the Sodexo Gold Cup at Ascot on the same day
*** holds an entry in the Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase at Carlisle on Sunday, 1 November
2020 Charlie Hall Chase Tips
Betting is now available on the 2020 Charlie Hall Chase and these are the market principals for the Wetherby feature.
Cyrname (6/4) – won in 2020
There wasn’t a racehorse over fences with a higher official rating than Cyrname last season, but his campaign turned into a bit of disaster. His match with two-mile star Altior in the 1965 Chase at Ascot was one of the modern era’s great clashes. Although Cyrname got the better of the dual Queen Mother Champion Chase hero, it was very early in the season for the pair to be taking each other on. He then didn’t stay three miles when sent off a warm favourite for the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park.
If Cyrname couldn’t get the trip at what is perceived to be one of the easiest jumps track in Britain, then you may be wondering what Paul Nicholls is doing be rerouting him to the Charlie Hall from Down Royal and its Champion Chase in Northern Ireland. The bookies fear this horse and his master trainer eking out improvement, and putting him through work that generates greater stamina.
Almost a stone clear on ratings of the rest of the Wetherby entries, Cyrname can’t be anything other than favourite. With question marks about the trip, however, there is a case against him. He also needs to prove he can win away from his happy hunting ground at Ascot and show himself to be no worse for the fall he suffered there when last in action in February.
Nigel Twiston-Davies has a horse that is officially 6lb better than when winning the Charlie Hall Chase in 2019 in Ballyoptic. He did so with the benefit of a run under his belt 12 months ago, but would make his reappearance if defending his crown. Nobody has saddled more winners of the race than Twiston-Davies with this horse giving him a record sixth success in it.
Ballyoptic is now a 10-year-old, but still won three of his five starts last season. Unlike other market principals that hold other entries over the weekend of the Charlie Hall, running again at Wetherby looks to be the plan. He is also the sole representative from a stable which has obviously targeted the race down the years.
Although Ballyoptic just hasn’t taken to the Grand National course and was last of four to finish in the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park off the back of his Charlie Hall win, this should be easier. He also has no problem jumping regulation fences. That is why he is arguably best of the rest in-behind Cyrname in the market, ranging in price from 9/2 up to best odds of 6/1 with Sky Bet.
Sam Spinner (6/1)
Local trainer Jedd O’Keeffe got course experience into former top staying hurdler Sam Spinner during his novice chase campaign last season. Although not the most fluent of jumpers, he had sufficient class to bolt up in a small field Grade 2 at Doncaster on his third and final start of the campaign. A possible crack at the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival was mooted off the back of that effort, but a setback put paid to that.
Still unexposed over fences and two from two on the Wetherby chase course, there could be more to come from this popular northern horse. Yorkshire trained winners are not unheard of in the Charlie Hall, see Definitly Red’s win in 2018 for evidence of that. Sam Spinner probably owes his lofty chase rating of 161 more to what he accomplished over the smaller obstacles than last season’s form.
However, like Ballyoptic, this is his only entry on a busy weekend of horse racing in the British Isles. The Charlie Hall Chase is the obvious starting point for a crack at open company with just a short journey from the Yorkshire Dales stables where O’Keeffe trains. Sam Spinner is also a top-price 6/1 with bet365 to add to his win in the grade as a novice and looks an intended runner.
Kim Bailey has minded Vinndication throughout his career to date and we only saw him twice on a racecourse last season. In the first of those, he won the Grade 3 Sodexo Gold Cup at Ascot. That competitive handicap chase is held on the same day as the Charlie Hall. While Vinndication does hold an entry there again, he would have to defend the crown off a 10lb higher rating and that is no mean feat. That may give connections pause for thought.
Vinndication carried a welter burden in the Grade 3 Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival when last in action. He ran a fine fourth off topweight that day, finishing just 2¾ lengths behind The Conditional, to whom he conceded a whopping 20lb. That was a massive effort in defeat, but handicap company won’t be any easier off a 2lb higher rating.
He will have a penalty for his Ascot success but so will Ballyoptic and Cyrname, while Sam Spinner gets his halved due to his novice status last season. An official mark of 161 puts Vinndication bang in the frame, however, if he turns up at Wetherby and doesn’t go south to Ascot instead. He is also a 6/1 shot for the Charlie Hall Chase with race sponsors bet365.
Charlie Hall Chase 2019 Results
What Happened in 2019?
Ballyoptic followed-up on a winning reappearance in handicap company at Chepstow to give trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies a record sixth winner of the Charlie Hall Chase. Sent off at odds of 11/4, the nine-year-old tracked the leaders and closed up on them five fences from home. His challenge began at the next jump and Ballyoptic then came under a ride from Sam Twiston-Davies to lead two out. He kept on well from the last up the run-in for a 3¾ lengths victory over 6/1 shot Elegant Escape from the Colin Tizzard stable.
The five horses who completed this Charlie Hall renewal were well strung out by Ballyoptic. Aso, a 7/1 chance for Venetia Williams, was beaten a further six lengths in third. Warren Greatrex’s mare La Bague Au Roi, who brought smart Grade 1 form from her novice chase campaign into the race and was the 5/2 favourite with bookmakers, was eventually pulled up after not jumping with much fluency. Molly The Dolly for trainer-jockey brothers Harry and Dan Skelton fell at the eleventh of 18 fences, but locally trained pair Definitly Red and Top Ville Ben both completed.
Charlie Hall Chase Stats & Trends
Just 5 out of 19 favourites have won this race since the millennium, which is unusual for a high-grade conditions race. Even taking out the unusual 40/1 winner in the sequence, the average SP of Charlie Hall winners has been almost 5/1 so it seems you are better off looking for value and ignoring short-priced favourites.
You can couple this trend with the fact that 14 out of 19 winners have been aged 8 or over. Often younger horses who are improving come with a bit of a reputation and as such can be shorter in the market, but it appears that experience really counts in this race so stick with the solid form shown by the better 8-10-year-old runners.
While stats don’t come with any guarantees about finding the winner, you are more likely to make better betting decisions by following trends that not. Check out these key statistics for the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby:
- Leading trainer – Nigel Twiston-Davies has saddled five different horses to six wins, including two of the last three renewals. Anything he sends up to West Yorkshire from his Gloucestershire stables commands respect, then.
- Leading jockey – No active rider has won the race more than once. Three jockeys have won the Charlie Hall three times before: Graham Bradley, Carl Llewellyn and Mick Fitzgerald.
- Age – Although the race is open to horses aged five and above, nine-year-olds have won the race 13 times since 1986. That includes five of the last ten winners, so that age bracket could pay.
- Favourites – Just five favourites since 2000 have obliged in the Charlie Hall Chase, giving them a 25 per cent success rate. That is below average for a graded steeplechase like this. With the average starting price (SP) of race winners being almost 5/1, you should be looking beyond the market leader.
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Past Charlie Hall Chase Winners
2018 was a year in which the Charlie Hall Chase broke up badly, only four runners eventually going to post. The favourite, perhaps unsurprisingly coming from a big yard, was Paul Nicholls’ Black Corton at 5/4 who was to be ridden by Bryony Frost.
Double Shuffle was next in at 5/2 and at 3/1, quite a decent price in a 4-runner contest, was local trainer Brian Ellison’s solid previous Gold Cup sixth Definitly Red ridden by Danny Cook.
Experience, as is usually the case in this race, was to count greatly too as Ellison’s star chase got to the front after the seventh fence and made the rest of the running, scoring in the end by two lengths from Black Corton who had no answers up the straight.
18 different horses over the last 20 years have won the Charlie Hall, only Ollie Magern and See More Business being double-winners, and here is a list of everything from the year 2010 on along with how they subsequently fared at the Cheltenham Festival: