Charlie Hall Chase Tips: Take on Cyrname at the prices

Cyrname is bidding to win over three miles for the first time.
Cyrname is bidding to win over three miles for the first time.

Nick Seddon previews Saturday’s Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, which traditionally acts as an early season pointer to next year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup… 

The debate about when the Jumps season ‘proper’ truly gets underway is one which will never be settled, though it’s fair to say that this weekend’s Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby is about as solid a starting point that you’ll find. 

Indeed, there tends to be at least one (if not more) big-name staying chaser in this each year - though it’s worth noting that while a handful of Gold Cup winners have won this over the years, no horse has ever won both races in the same season. 

This year’s ten-strong field is an excellent one, and it is headlined by Cyrname, who is the current joint-highest-rated Jumps horse in training alongside the Gold Cup holder, Al Boum Photo. To put it simply, he would be very difficult to beat if at his best, though he's a very short price as a 7/4 favourite considering that we haven’t seen him since he suffered a crashing fall when held in the Ascot Chase back in February.

Some solace can be taken in the fact that Paul Nicholls was eyeing up a run for him at Sandown before lockdown, though he’s entitled to need this outing more than other years after an extended break from the track. Granted, he has won on the back of similar absences in the past, but he's got something to prove at this trip, having been held on his sole try at three miles in last year’s King George. His handler is confident he will stay, though he is best watched here having lost all three of his starts at left-handed tracks to date. 

The chief threat as far as the market is concerned is the northern challenger Sam Spinner, who won all three of his starts as a novice last year. Two of those came at Wetherby, and while they weren’t the strongest of heats, he followed them up with victory in a Grade 2 contest at Doncaster in December. Injury ruled him out of the remainder of the season, however, meaning he could need this run on reappearance, and bearing in mind that he was largely held in Graded company over timber during his 2018/19 campaign, others make more appeal in a strong heat. 

Saturday’s field also contains the last two winners of this race, too, in Ballyoptic and Definitly Red. The former’s victory in this last year felt like a watershed moment for him, but he struggled in his next two outings, which included the Betfair Chase at Haydock. He got back on track with an emphatic win upon his return to handicap company at Ascot in February, however, and has a good record in the early stages of the season. Ballyoptic would be one to take seriously if repeating his performance from 12 months ago, though he could need more here in what looks a stronger renewal. 

Meanwhile, Definitly Red is a four-time winner at Grade 2 level, and he was in good heart when last seen, winning a listed contest at Kelso in February. He’d be one to consider if on a going day, but he is more miss than hit these days as an 11-year-old, and needed the run when fourth in this last year. 

Three more to consider are Mister Whitaker, Keeper Hill and La Bague Au Roi. The last-named was a dual winner at the top level as a novice in 2018/19, but she’s largely struggled since, with her last success coming at the 2019 Dublin Racing Festival. She’ll arrive here fit after a pipe opener at Perth in September, but she’d need a substantial revival to take this. Mister Whitaker is a smart handicapper on his day, finishing a fine third in the Festival Plate at Cheltenham in March, but he tends to save his best form for the Cotswolds and this is a tough ask. Finally, Keeper Hill has won on reappearance twice in the past three years, but he’d need a career best to trouble the market principals.

Instead, it could be worth siding with Vinndication. The seven-year-old is lightly-raced over fences, making six starts to date, but he’s a very smart type, winning a Grade 2 as a novice at Ascot in December 2018. He was a deeply impressive winner of the Sodexo Gold Cup on his reappearance on Charlie Hall day at Ascot last year, and should be ready to go once again this time around. Like Cyrname, he isn’t a sure thing at a left-handed track, having made just two starts in this direction to date, but his fine run to finish fourth off top weight in the Ultima at Cheltenham in March allays any fears that he’ll be troubled by a trip to Wetherby. Admittedly, he’d strictly have something to find on form with Cyrname if that rival is on song, but Vinndication should be more ready for this than most, and makes plenty of appeal at around the 100/30 mark to take this. 


Charlie Hall Chase, Wetherby, Saturday 31st October - back Vinndication at 100/30

Charlie Hall Chase
Vinndication silk


2021 Cheltenham Festival
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