3.35pm Wetherby Charlie Hall Chase betting tip: As momentum gathers behind the start of the National Hunt season, Wetherby hosts a top class card this Saturday which sees the return of a stalwart of jumps racing.
The highlight on Saturday's Weatherby race card is the Bet365 Charlie Hall Chase, due off at 3.35pm and we have a tasty horse racing betting tip to get your teeth stuck into.
After successfully tipping winners for the last three weekends of the this year’s flat season I’m a little reluctant to switch codes. Nevertheless the jumps season brings with it months of exciting and dynamic racing and I’m looking forward to delving into Wetherby’s card.
For this year’s renewal of the Charlie Hall we have a competitive field of runners headed by last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup third – Long Run (5/4 William Hill), who will be looking to pick up this prize before moving on to possibly the Betfair Chase and then the King George on Boxing Day. This big imposing horse of Nicky Henderson is the definition of consistency with the unbelievable record of finishing in the first three in all of the 26 races he has run in, both here and across the channel in France. He deals with all types of ground (although clearly enjoys a thorough test of stamina) and handles the trip of 3m 1f with ease. Top rated on official ratings he justifiably sits at the top of the betting market and will prove a tough nut to crack when looking for our racing betting tip this weekend.
However since completing two full seasons in the UK he has yet to win first time out, after loosing to two Paul Nicholls trained horses in the form of Kauto Star and Silviniaco Conti. Both horses are class acts and it could be argued that he just bumped into better quality animals for the last two years, nevertheless with the current odds looking very skinny indeed I'm more than happy to look elsewhere for some value for my Charlie Hall prediction.
Opposing the favourite and looking to follow in the hoof prints of his stable mate, and last year’s winner Silviniaco Conti, we have the the youngest horse in the field in the form of Unioniste (7/2 Coral). Similarly to Long Run, Unioniste was brought over from France and campaigned straight away in novice chases where he won a strong handicap chase at Cheltenham in December (albeit off bottom weight) and finished 4th in the RSA chase at the Festival. Certainly this horse has the potential to be a very exciting future prospect, however throughout last year he wasn’t the cleanest of jumpers when put under serious pressure and, when tried over this trip in the RSA he didn't really seem to excel. It could well be that during the summer months he’s strengthened up and Paul Nicholls has been able to get some good work into him, however since 2003 only two horses have managed to win this contest under the age of 8 and no horse has won it at the age of 5 and with that statistic in mind he’s far too short in the betting for me.
The strongest challenge to Long Run could well come from two other young chasers in the form of last year’s Jewson winner – Benefficient (10/1 Bet365) and the highly progressive Harry Topper (8/1 Bet Victor). The former rallied well at Cheltenham to win the Jewson after being passed by David Pipe’s star Dynaste coming around the final bend at Cheltenham. That day he showed his stamina credentials and could well thrive now upped in trip from 2m 4f. Although his penultimate run of the season at Punchestown was disappointing there clearly was something amiss that day and he could be one to follow this season.
However, the six year-old Harry Topper holds Benefficient on earlier form when he won a Grade 2 Novice Chase at Newbury. Prior to that victory he also beat Rocky Creek (a useful sort from the Nicholls' yard) and was justifiably being touted as a future star during the early part of last season. He bypassed Cheltenham Festival and unfortunately disappointed by unseating his rider when a strong odds-on favourite for a Listed race at Kelso (which included last year’s Grand National winner Aurora’s Encore) and then he was brought down in the Grade 1 Novice Champion Chase at the Punchestown festival. Undoubtedly we haven't seen this horses’ full potential and although his end to last season wasn’t exactly confidence inspiring he looks like he’s been aimed for this race and hopefully his trainer Kim Bailey will have him fully tuned-up meaning he will make up our each-way betting tip for the Charlie Hall Chase 2013.
Of the others, certainly Cape Tribulation (7/1 Bet365) has to enter the equation as he won last year’s Grade 2 Argento Chase before finishing fifth in both the Gold Cup and the Betfred Bowl. Although he has a good level of form he usually comes on for his first run and is certainly seen to best effect when running on truly testing ground (course and distance winner on heavy).
It would be a great surprise if any of the remaining runners could land a blow (and their respective odds certainly reflect that). The field is completed by Wayward Prince (33/1 Stan James), who finished second in last year’s contest; Big Fella Thanks (40/1 Stan James), who has been a good quality handicap chaser for the last 4 years; and finally Billie Magern (40/1 bet365) and Master Of The Hall (33/1 William Hill).
The beginning of each new season certainly tends to throw up some unusual results so punters must be wary at this time of year. However, all things being equal only four runners can realistically win this contest with the favourite having obvious claims. When deciding whether or not to get involved in backing favourites I always try to establish the amount of value left in the current price. At 5/4 best price the value has certainly gone and i can’t justify backing a horse who has obvious questions to answer. For all that Long Run is a top quality horse he is prone to making the odd jumping error and his sights will be set on bigger targets later on in the year.
With that in mind, I think that at the prices Harry Topper represents a solid e/w betting tip for Saturday. Since the disappointment of last year I can envisage Kim Bailey having laid this horse out for this contest with the aim of proving he is still a top class animal. Providing his training has gone well over the summer, and the falls he suffered haven’t blunted his confidence, then he will certainly provide a strong challenge to the favourite and could provide us with a nice start to the season.
Charlie Hall 3.35 Wetherby Betting Tip
Harry Topper each-way – Click here to bet at 8/1 with Bet Victor
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