With four Grade 1 winners, a Hennessy and Grand National hero, and a couple of improving types in the field, this year’s Charlie Hall Chase could be one of the most competitive renewals for some time.
Over the years the likes of Silviniaco Conti, Benefficient and Neptune Collonges have taken in the race en route to Grade 1 success that same season.
What that trio have in common though, is that they have all been beaten at Wetherby before going on triumph at the highest level in the campaign that followed.
So, while this Grade 2 contest is a valuable one and will take a lot of winning, it may not be the pointer we would hope for as we head into the winter.
Furthermore, of the last 20 winners of the contest, less than half won another Graded chase that term.
The market leader for this year’s renewal is David Pipe’s Ryanair Chase winner Dynaste at 4/1.
In one sense the grey does have an advantage over the vast majority of his rivals, having got a recent run under his belt, but that outing did give out mixed messages.
While the two mile, three-and-a-half furlong trip was probably on the short side for him, he will need to take a massive step forward from that run in the Prix Carmarthen at Auteuil.
There is also an underlying doubt as to whether he should be this short against some of these opponents having not won a race over three miles or further in six attempts since stepping out of novice company.
He will though, receive 10lbs from three others in the field, including second favourite Many Clouds (9/2).
Oliver Sherwood’s gelding had a season to remember last term, winning four of his five races, with his handler adamant that he didn’t give his full running when sixth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The forecast rain that is set to hit the West Yorkshire track in the three days building up to the race will come as a blessing to the Lambourn trainer, with his charge appreciating plenty of cut in the ground.
The eight-year-old certainly has a liking for the configuration of the Wetherby track, having won twice and finished second on his only three runs there.
The return from a break will be no problem having won on his seasonal reappearance for the past two years and as the highest rated horse in the field, should be bang there at the finish.
However, while one has doubts about Dynaste’s ability to make the most of the weight allowance he gets, it could pay to back stablemate Ballynagour (5/1) to take advantage of the concession.
The way in which he made six-time Grade 1 winner Silviniaco Conti work at Aintree in the Betfred Bowl at the Grand National meeting suggests he could be a challenger in the top staying races this term.
He’s only had three starts over fences at three miles or further, falling in the Punchestown Gold Cup after being pulled up on his first outing last season in the Hennessy Gold Cup.
Forgive him that Newbury showing though, as there is a lot to like about his profile.
Five of his six wins have come on soft ground, and while he was beaten on his first run of the 2014-15 season, he triumphed at Cheltenham after a four-month break in 2014 and at Warwick after seven months off the year previous.
He finished ahead of the great Hurricane Fly on a trip back to France when fifth in the Grande Course de Haies d’Autueil on his last start.
The distance he was beaten (15 lengths) can be very much taken with a pinch of salt as winner and fellow Pipe inmate Un Temps Pour Tout was allowed an easy lead and stretched clear some way out.
If reproducing the effort that saw him get to within a short head of Silviniaco Conti in Liverpool, or travel with the efficiency in which he did in Ireland before coming down four out, he could be the one to give Many Clouds the most to think about.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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