The Charlie Hall Chase is one of the first big races of the latest National Hunt season, with many entrants using the race as a first big preparation for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.
However, no horse has managed to complete this fairly lucrative double this century, with See More Business the last to do so in 1999.
Silviniaco Conti has arguably come the closest since in 2012 when looking the most likely winner at the top of the Cheltenham hill in the Gold Cup before falling over.
The King of Stats has run the rule over this year’s 11 entrants, looking at the trends of the more recent Wetherby winners in the hope of narrowing down the search for the 2015 victor.
Here are the trends used:
12 of the last 13 winners were having their first run of the season
11 of the last 13 winners were officially rated 151 or higher
8 of the last 10 winners carried 11st 6lb or less
7 of the last nine winners were aged either eight or nine
9 of the last 13 winners had won at least four times over fences before
This suggests that Irish Cavalier and The Romford Pele have little chance of winning, while three entrants fit all of these criteria. The following graphic highlights how each horse fares:
So the Charlie Hall Chase seems to be between Holywell, Rocky Creek and Cue Card. Let’s assess their prospects individually.
The big negative in the column of last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup fourth is that he is a spring horse. In seven career starts across the months of October, November and December, Holywell has never secured victory.
Any rain in the build up to the race will certainly not be ideal either for Jonjo O’Neill’s eight-year-old, which is another possible reason why he struggles in the winter months, alongside potentially the need to shake off any rust from his summer vacation.
No doubts about his stamina and this may prove his optimum trip after struggling to get home in both the Grand National and Bet365 Gold Cup towards the tail end of last season.
It would take a career best to win this though and like Holywell, Rocky Creek has a track record for finding one too good at this time of the year. Paul Nicholls’ jockey booking could say most for his chances with the trainer also saddling Sam Winner.
Despite previously winning a Betfair Chase and finishing second in a King George VI Chase, there is still a feeling that Cue Card’s stamina is stretched too much over 3m. In fact, these are his only two positive results in seven runs over distances of 3m+.
The first-time jockey booking of Paddy Brennan on the recognised front runner is also interesting here, while he competes off 10lb less than the likes of Many Clouds and Sam Winner having escaped any sort of penalty.
Much will hinge on how much ability he retains after a succession of injuries, but he does look a worthy favourite.
However, preference is for Holywell, despite the forecast of some rain at Wetherby on Friday. He has placed at this time of the year before and with some good expected to remain in the ground description, a first winter victory is on the cards.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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