The Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase, over three miles at Wetherby on Saturday, is often a starting point for Cheltenham Gold Cup contenders (3.20pm; TV: Live on ITV4).
There are a number who have won both races and Silviniaco Conti and Cue Card have prevailed this decade and run in the Gold Cup more than once.
This year, the ten runners race on good to soft ground for a first prize of £39,865 which makes it the second richest race of the day behind a similar event at Ascot. That is a terrible indictment of the prizemoney situation in the UK. It is the bookies who get rich off the back of horse racing and every other stakeholder pays the price.
JustBookies has picked out the top contenders for our Charlie Hall Chase preview 2020 and we conclude with our big-race betting tip:
Cyrname is the favourite and only chaser to beat Altior over obstacles. That Ascot run earned Cyrname the highest rating of this field but the form was not reproduced in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day when he was beaten 21 lengths into second by stablemate Clan Des Obeaux.
Back at Ascot, Cyrname was beaten when he fell in his last race of the season. The Charlie Hall Chase is not a handicap and Cyrname is chucked in at the weights strictly on official ratings but can he bounce back to form? He certainly has the right trainer in Paul Nicholls. Wetherby is a left-handed track and Cyrname is a few pounds better going the other way so looks like a possible vulnerable favourite.
Sam Spinner has something to find with the favourite on all-known form. However, the eight-year-old is unbeaten over fences, with three wins from three starts. There is talk of Gold Cup potential but Sam Spinner will have to impress at Wetherby to get in contention for that race. Finishing less than three lengths behind Paisley Park in the Stayers’ Hurdle in 2019 suggests Sam Spinner has the stamina and could outstay Cyrname at the business end of the race. Sam Spinner did earn a bit of a reputation as a high-class rogue over hurdles, but hasn’t put a foot wrong over these larger obstacles.
Vinndication misses the handicap chase he won at Ascot 12 months ago to run at Wetherby. The Kim Bailey trained gelding was the beaten favourite in the handicap chase over three miles at the Cheltenham festival in March. Vinndication was fifth and well beaten behind Defi du Seuil in a Grade 1 novices’ chase over two miles and four furlongs at the festival in 2019. He is a proven handicap chaser and the level of this Grade 2 race may be beyond Vinndication. However he is rated ahead of Sam Spinner.
Ballyoptic is the joint-top weight with Cyrname due to penalties but would get 13lb from the favourite in a handicap. In theory, he cannot beat the market leader who would have to underperform to give Ballyoptic a chance. The close runner-up in the 2018 Scottish Grand National won a limited handicap chase over three miles at Ascot in February and has not raced since. He is proven on soft ground but the conditions of the race give Ballyoptic a tough task to repeat the 2019 win.
Definitly Red won the race in 2018 and was a leading contender for last season’s Grand National before it was cancelled. There was no race in 2020 but Definitly Red had a good profile. The fourth place finish, 26 lengths adrift of the winner Ballyoptic, in this race last year was not his form and something may have been amiss. Definitly Red finished second in a decent handicap chase at Haydock in January. He ran with promise when winning at Kelso the following month and Definitly Red has found his level, perhaps slightly below this race.
The mare La Bague Au Roi showed promise as a novice chaser but has not realised that potential. Four wins in four starts during the 2018/19 season augured well for the future but La Bague Au Roi has generally been disappointing in recent starts. However, a second-place finish behind Kalashnikov in a Grade 1 novices’ chase at Aintree in April 2019 was an excellent effort, even receiving weight. La Bague Au Roi will have to run to that level but there are too many recent moderate efforts to be confident that will happen.
It would be incompetent not to mention all the longshots as part of this Charlie Hall Chase preview and given the question marks over all the ones towards the top of the betting, an upset could be possible.
Mister Whitaker shaped with great promise on his final start last season when a running on third in a handicap chase at the Cheltenham Festival. That was over 2m4f and this 3m trip will be more to his liking. He is only 4lb behind Sam Spinner on official ratings, so would have each-way claims if fit first time out.
Keeper Hill won first time out last season, so could be fit for this task. He was runner-up to Frodon in January at Kempton, beaten just over a length. That form puts him in the frame here.
Aye Right has had the benefit of a run over an inadequate 2m1f this term, no doubt with this task in hand. He is one of the lowest rated, but at 146 is no mug and La Bague Au Roi is only 1lb superior.
Saint Xavier is lowest rated of the field at 142 and has been cast aside by more high-profile connections before joining the current yard. He ought to be outclassed and is priced by the leading internet bookies accordingly.
On official ratings, Cyrname would be a certainty in this field, which lacks strength in depth. However he is not suited to a test of stamina and this trip may be three furlongs further than is his optimum. He may be an inferior horse going left-handed so looks vulnerable. Vinndication is more at home in handicaps than Class 1 races, Ballyoptic has been given a tough task at the weights while Definitly Red may struggle in this class. La Bague Au Roi must run better than in recent starts to contend. SAM SPINNER has not been beaten over fences and has proven stamina and, with the least question marks, is our Charlie Hall Chase betting tip for this preview:
- Bet on Sam Spinner @ 15/2.
Compare Charlie Hall Chase 2020 Betting Odds from Major Bookies
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