The Charlie Hall Chase is open to 5 year olds and upwards and is a national hunt chase.
The race is a Grade 2 chase over three miles and one furlong with 18 fences to be jumped.
For 5yo+ Weights 11st Penalties after September 30th, 2016, a winner of a Grade 3 or Listed chase 4lb; of a Grade 1 or Grade 2 chase 6lb (Half penalties for wins achieved in novices' and beginners' chases in Great Britain and Ireland, and 3yo only Chases in France) Allowances mares 7lb
This looks like it could be a very strong renewal today some good horses making their debut.
We'll start with the horse at the head of the market the smart 10-year-old Coneygree. Lightly raced, but incredibly talented, Coneygree showed his real class when winning the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup. That was a culmination of a really fantastic season where he was unbeaten in his four runs. He is top-class and often runs well when fresh. In his 13 starts under rules, he has only once finished outside the first three. If he takes his part today he must be very well respected.
Another of the nations favorites the Colin Tizard trained Cue Card. Now 11, rising 12, this multiple Grade 1 winner has twice been unlucky in the blue ribbon event, the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He comes year for his seasonal debut. He is a past winner of this race which he took in 2015 beating good horses that day including Dynaste and Grand National winning horse Many Clouds. If he is on song first time up he will be challenging at the end of the race.
Blaklion is a lovely young eight-year-old bay gelding trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies. Fourth in last year's race he somehow managed to get through the season without winning a race. Running well in all of his races, hopefully, he will be a bit bigger this year and a bit stronger and might be one to follow. He is a past winner of the RSA Chase which he won in the 2016 Festival. He was fourth in last year's Grand National and his spring season will obviously be aimed at another crack at that race. It would not be a surprise to see him pop up here at a good price, on a course where he has not only won on but also at this distance.
Blaklions Stablemate Bristol De Mai is another very talented horse. He ran a great race in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last season finishing seventh as a six-year-old. This horse likes soft ground so any rain up to the race day will only be of help to him. He was to have his seasonal debut in October but turned out to be a non-runner because of the unsuitable ground. Another with a great chance of making the frame.
Course and distance winner Definitely Red is another opening his season today. In his favor, he is definitely one that runs well when fresh. Quite fancied for last season's Grand National he was pulled up after being badly hampered. He is another who will be suited by the soft ground and his stable is in reasonable form at the moment. Another very interesting runner.
The Philip Hobbs trained Village Vic is a lovely chaser and something of a Cheltenham specialist. He rarely runs a bad race at Cheltenham and seems to love the undulations of the course. Luckily for us, he is also a course winner at Wetherby where he has won on both occasions that he is run here. A front-runner he likes to bowl along in front, which he was doing at Chepstow last month however he did take a heavy fall, and that's a bit worrying for today. If he bounces back he could be a player.
The Tom George trained Double Shuffle was in the same race that Village Vic fell in at Chepstow. His fortunes were better in the race he finished second but some seven lengths behind a smart Paul Nicholls horse. He is a young seven-year-old who sidestepped the Cheltenham Festival for a crack at the Grand National. He ran well enough but got tired towards the end of the race and was pulled up two from home. He is taking another step up the ladder today and comes year with the benefit of that good run at Chepstow. Village Vic is one of my favorite chasers but he may find a few of these two hot for him to handle today.
Vieux Lion Rouge represents the David Pipe stable. His long-term goal, this season will be another run in the Grand National. He finished sixth last season but also his early season target will be the Becher Chase which he won last season. This may seem a bit like a pipe-opener for the horse to get him ready for the Aintree race, however, it would be dangerous to write him off as last season he won his first two races the season before his first three and he has also started two other seasons by winning his first three runs. He obviously goes well fresh and could be vastly overpriced in what is a very competitive race.
Virgilio is another young horse who comes year after his summer break. He was third in the Mildmay novice hurdles at Aintree at the Grand National Festival and that was probably one of his best runs. Will need to improve on that to take this race and is an interesting runner from the Skelton yard.
Shantou Flyer is a horse who changed stables last season and instantly had some improved form. He ran well in the Betfair Ascot Chase where he was a long way second behind Cue Card, who was extremely impressive that day. He struggled a bit in the Grand National and was pulled up and the National is likely to be his target again this year. Looks as if this could just be a start on his road to that.
So there you have it a really strong competitive renewal of this race this year. The two at the head of the market Coneygree and Cue Card both have good claims on the race, however, there are slight doubts about whether either of them will be on top form today. It might be a case of taking a punt on something with a slightly bigger price. Definitely Red is a course and distance winner at a good price, however, Nigel Twiston-Davies is in great form and he usually is at this time of year and Blaklion and Bristol De Mai both have good each way claims and both will love the ground but I feel that this season will be an even better one for Blaklion who I believe has a little bit more class and he is the each-way choice for me in the race.
|Name||Form / Type||Age||Weight||Trainer||Jockey||Rating|
|Bristol de Mai (FR)||221305-/ D / GELDING||6||11st 6lbs||Nigel Twiston-Davies||--||159|
|Cue Card (GB)||3121F2-/ CD / GELDING||11||11st 6lbs||Colin Tizzard||Paddy Brennan||168|
|Definitly Red (IRE)||131U1P-/ CD / GELDING||8||11st 4lbs||Brian Ellison||Danny Cook||159|
|Shantou Flyer (IRE)||20142P-/ D / GELDING||7||11st 4lbs||Richard Hobson||--||156|
|Vieux Lion Rouge (FR)||260/116-/ D / GELDING||8||11st 4lbs||David Pipe||--||154|
|Blaklion (GB)||3/45324-/ CD / GELDING||8||11st 0lbs||Nigel Twiston-Davies||--||155|
|Coneygree (GB)||111/1/23-/ D / GELDING||10||11st 0lbs||Mark Bradstock||Nico de Boinville||165|
|Double Shuffle (IRE)||P512P-2/ D / GELDING||7||11st 0lbs||Tom George||A. P. Heskin||151|
|Village Vic (IRE)||2320P-F/ C / GELDING||10||11st 0lbs||Philip Hobbs||--||158|
|Virgilio (FR)||1P223-1 / GELDING||8||11st 0lbs||Dan Skelton||Harry Skelton||149|
|1||Bristol de Mai (FR)||221305-/ D / GELDING||6||11st 6lbs||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Daryl Jacob||159|
|2||Blaklion (GB)||3/45324-/ CD / GELDING||8||11st 0lbs||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Gavin Sheehan||155|
|3||Definitly Red (IRE)||131U1P-/ CD / GELDING||8||11st 4lbs||Brian Ellison||Danny Cook||159|
|4||Vieux Lion Rouge (FR)||260/116-/ D / GELDING||8||11st 4lbs||David Pipe||Tom Scudamore||154|
|5||Shantou Flyer (IRE)||20142P-/ D / GELDING||7||11st 4lbs||Richard Hobson||Richard Hobson||156|
|F||Cue Card (GB)||3121F2-/ CD / GELDING||11||11st 6lbs||Colin Tizzard||Paddy Brennan||168|
|N/R||Double Shuffle (IRE)||P512P-2/ D / GELDING||7||11st 0lbs||Tom George||A. P. Heskin||151|
|N/R||Virgilio (FR)||1P223-1 / GELDING||8||11st 0lbs||Dan Skelton||Harry Skelton||149|
|P/U||Coneygree (GB)||111/1/23-/ D / GELDING||10||11st 0lbs||Mark Bradstock||Nico de Boinville||165|
|P/U||Village Vic (IRE)||2320P-F/ C / GELDING||10||11st 0lbs||Philip Hobbs||Richard Johnson||158|
This has all the making of a classic race but it seems as if the weather had a say in it with the two highest-rated horses both bowing out due to the low sun.
The first was Coneygree who seemed to miss a fence when he jumped it bigger than he had to and overreached himself at the 8th fence. He was soon pulled up by Nico who reported that he felt the low sun had had an impact on the horse seeing the fence.
The other second horse to be affected was Cue Card who was going really well and looked to be running well inside himself when he just did not take off at 15th fence and ploughed straight through it and took a nasty fall.
The winner of the race Bristol De Mai had a great race he chased up with the leaders and challenged for the lead from the 8th fence and stayed on really well to beat a strongly challenging stablemate by a half a length.
Blaklion also had a good race. He was with the leaders and challenged for the lead and was not in any trouble throughout the race. He stayed on well but could not get the better of the winner but was 23 lengths ahead of the 3rd horse.
Definitly Red was with the leaders before being hampered at the 15th fence but ran out of steam 2 from home but kept on for 3rd place.
Vieux Lion Rouge Was with the leaders for most of the race but faded 3 from home and was then eased down to finish 20 lengths behind the 3rd horse.
Shantou Flyer as held up at the start but blundered at the 15th fence and then fell well behind to finish 5th lengths behind the 4th.
Village Vic was never really going and was tailed off before being pulled up after the 14th fence.
Stewards report on race:-
BRISTOL DE MAI (FR) wore earplugs.
Daryl Jacob, the rider of the winner, BRISTOL DE MAI (FR), was suspended for 2 days for using his whip without time to respond after the final fence.
Following the race, Nico de Boinville reported that CONEYGREE, which was pulled up, never travelled after making a mistake at the third fence. The Veterinary Officer subsequently reported that a post-race examination of the gelding during routine testing revealed CONEYGREE had suffered an overreach on its left fore.