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 29th.
The bet365 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.
Our 2022 Charlie Hall Chase Tip: Ahoy Senor 3.35 Wetherby (Saturday 29th October)
The 2022 Charlie Hall Chase is being billed as a clash between leading second-season chasers Ahoy Senor and Bravemansgame. The two horses have an interesting history of previous meetings beginning with the Grade 1 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree in 2021. On that occasion it was 66-1 outsider Ahoy Senor who came out on top by seven lengths.
Both horses were immediately sent chasing last season with Bravemansgame taking to fences like a duck to water. Ahoy Senor, a larger and more powerfully-built gelding, took longer to adapt and unseated his rider at Carlisle before winning by a wide margin at Newbury. The two horses clashed in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton and this time it was Bravemansgame who emerged victorious after a series of mistakes from his rival.
Trainer Paul Nicholls withdrew Bravemansgame from his intended engagement in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival because of the soft ground. Lucinda Russell had no such reservations about Ahoy Senor who ran well to finish second to L’Homme Presse. The two met for a third time in the Grade 1 Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree with Ahoy Senor jumping well and winning by 5 lengths while Bravemansgame trailed home a disappointing last of four.
Bookmakers are finding it hard to split the two horses on their return to action but Ahoy Senor looks the one with more scope. Eldorado Allen was third in the Ryanair Chase in March after winning the Denman Chase at Newbury. Win My Wings went from strength to strength last season for Christian Williams, winning the Scottish National by seven lengths. The mare also features among possible Charlie Hall Chase 2022 runners and now tackles Grade 2 company after a 14lbs rise in the handicap.
Other notable Charlie Hall Chase entries include Secret Investor, off the course for 615 days after winning the 2021 Denman Chase, and Aintree handicap winner Sam Brown. Good Boy Bobby will carry the colours of last year’s winner Fusil Raffles but has not raced since being pulled up in the Grand National.
The Charlie Hall Chase is one of the first Cheltenham Gold Cup trials of the National Hunt season, although its recent record in that event is poor. The last five Charlie Hall winners to run in the Gold Cup in the same season all failed to complete the course. These Charlie Hall Chase runners include the well-fancied Silviniaco Conti (2012) and Cue Card (2015) who were both in contention when falling at the Cheltenham Festival.
The horse most likely to buck the trend is undoubtedly Ahoy Senor, currently third favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup at a best-priced 11-1. Connections have already set out their stall for Cheltenham’s greatest prize and this looks the ideal starting point. Bravemansgame’s preference for better ground may limit his opportunities this winter. He is 33-1 for the Gold Cup but as short as 9-2 for the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.
The result of Saturday’s race could have a big impact on the betting for the King George and the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The Charlie Hall Chase could also influence the betting on the Welsh Grand National with Win My Wings currently heading the ante-post betting for that marathon event at 8-1.
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 bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby and make sure to use Paddy Power Cheltenham specials and the likes by other brands for this and other races:
The 2021 Charlie Hall Chase attracted a top quality field featuring the 2020 winner Cyrname, Grade 1 winning novice Shan Blue and Scottish National winner Mighty Thunder. Cyrname was once rated the highest rated steeplechaser in training but had pulled up in both subsequent races after winning this race the previous season. He raced keenly but was a spent force with five to jump and the well-backed favourite Shan Blue set sail for home, quickly establishing a big lead.
Dan Skelton’s gelding looked certain to confirm the promise of his novice chasing career before taking a crashing fall at the third last fence. That left Nicky Henderson’s Fusil Raffles to claim the prize, holding off the consistent Kitty’s Light with Clondaw Castle third and Mighty Thunder a remote fourth.
It was certainly a dramatic renewal and led to a flurry of quotes for Shan Blue for the top steeplechases. He was initially cut to 8-1 for the King George but Skelton decided to allow the gelding plenty of time to recover from his fall and prepare him for a spring campaign. Shan Blue eventually returned to finish sixth in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham and runner-up in the Betway Handicap Chase at Aintree. Eventual Charlie Hall runner-up Kitty’s Light went on to finish second in the 2022 Scottish National and third in the Bet365 Gold Cup.
2021 Charlie Hall Chase Result:
🥇 1st Fusil Raffles 100-30
🥈 2nd Kitty’s Light 11-1
🥉 3rd Clondaw Castle 8-1
🐎 7 ran
👨🏿💼Winning Trainer: Nicky Henderson
🏇 Winning Jockey: Daryl Jacob
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.
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.
Harvey Mayson has worked as a horseracing writer, blogger and tipster for several of the UK’s leading bookmakers and numerous other specialist racing sites. Harvey has great knowledge of horse racing history and was the author of the Paddy Power Cheltenham Festival and Aintree Grand National blog for three years. Harvey’s blog at the Cheltenham Festival in 2014 included a 100,000-1 ante-post four-timer while he correctly forecast the first four winners on Grand National day in 2015. He also tipped three Grand National winners in a row and eleven consecutive winning nap selections.