The jump season is back!
The National Hunt season is finally underway with this Saturdays’ Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby typically seen as the first big race of the season. It looks sure to be highly competitive with fallen superstar Thistlecrack heading the market at this early stage. Thistlecrack is looking to regain his former glory after missing the remainder of last season following an injury in King George on Boxing Day.
Who can forget his fantastic King George win in 2016 on what was his novice season? Whether he can remain to reach those heights again, after a succession of injuries have blighted his career, but Joe Tizzard, who rode Thistlecrack in his very first competitive race back in 2013 (and assistant to father Colin) was this week quoted as saying he “has not missed a beat” in his preparation for the race. It would no doubt be a fantastic achievement if he could rise to former glory. There is certainly no shortage of fans! However, 7/4 is too short for my liking for a horse with a lot of question marks.
One horse who will definitely want to make it this year is Double Shuffle who was declared for this race last year but missed the race due to unexpected traffic problems. Double Shuffle nearly pulled off a shock in last years King George, going down by only 1 length to eventual Gold cup 2nd Might Bite at odds of 50/1. To me, this horse may perpetually be in the awkward bracket of “Always going to be a high weight in a handicap, therefore, having to run in high-class races, but not quite good enough to threaten the big boys. Early odds of 6/1 certainly don’t appeal to me.
Gordon Elliot sends 3 across from Ireland with Don Poli, Alpha Des Obeaux & Gold Cup contender Outlander all making the trek sporting the colours of National Hunt heavyweights Gigginstown. Paul Nicholls also saddles two with Black Corton looking to continue it’s impressive progress with Bryony Frost although with both of his horses having an initial price of 6/1, I’d be more interested in his other runner Clan Des Obeaux who I feel has been running at a higher consistent level.
The one I’m siding with and whom I really feel is one to watch this year is Bristol De Mai from the Nigel Twiston Davies stable. Bristol won this race last year as a prep race before his 57 length demolition in the Betfair Chase. Bristol De Mai is still only a 7-year-old, however, was a late foal and should peak over the next two seasons. I think there’s a lot more to come from the stable star. Owners Simon Munir & Isaac Souede have some racing superstars this season with others including Footpad, We Have A Dream & Terrefort all likely to sport the double green at Cheltenham next year and The Cheltenham Gold Cup is certainly not out of the question for Bristol De Mai.
The horse runs well fresh and as always the stable has started the season with a healthy return BRISTOL DE MAI has opened at 9/2 which I feel is a fantastic EW proposition as I can’t see it finishing out of the top three provided it receives its favoured soft or heavy ground. Looking ahead the weather for the area is overcast although the course is watering each day and with more rain forecast on Saturday morning – I can see it going off a much shorter price. See the betting here.
Recommendation 5 point ew @ 9/2
Charlie Hall Chase:
Code: National Hunt
Age: 5 years +
Distance: 3m 1f
Established: 1969 The Wetherby Pattern Chase
History: Replaced Emblem Handicap Chase (named after 1863 Grand National winner Emblem)
Recent History: 1978 Charlie Hall Memorial Wetherby Pattern Chase
Today: Charlie Hall Chase since 1990
Most Successful Horses:
Wayward Lad (1983, 1985)
Celtic Shot (1990, 1991)
Barton Bank (1993, 1995)
One Man (1996, 1997)
See More Business (1999, 2000)
Ollie Magern 2005, 2007)
Most Successful Trainer:
Nigel Twiston-Davies 5 wins - Tipping Tim (1992), Young Hustler (1994), Ollie Magern (2005, 2007) & Bristol De Mai (2017)
Watch last year's race here: