Charlie Hall Chase - Wetherby 15:20

Focus on the favourite

Cyrname (2/1)

There is no doubt that Cyrname is the best horse in the Charlie Hall Chase, but the question is what level can he run to over three miles and going left-handed? Cyrname has shown top-class form on three occasions, namely when winning an Ascot handicap by 21 lengths in January 2019, the Grade 1 Ascot Chase by 17 lengths the following month and then when inflicting a first defeat over obstacles on Altior when landing the 1965 Chase on his return last season. All those victories were achieved over two miles and five furlongs at Ascot, however, and he disappointed when upped to three miles in the King George at Kempton. A drop in trip and return to his favourite course failed to spark a revival in the Ascot Chase, where he suffered a heavy fall at the last when beaten at the time, so there is definitely a question to answer. Only Altior and Chacun Pour Soi have a higher Timeform rating, though, which highlights his class, and his trainer Paul Nicholls has made a flying start to the campaign, so there’s a case to be made that 2/1 is a fair price.

An outsider to consider

Aye Right (33/1)

Aye Right made good progress over hurdles, winning on five occasions and running to a useful level, and he took well to chasing last season. He was in the process of making an encouraging start over fences in the Grade 2 December Novices' Chase at Doncaster before unseating at the thirteenth, possibly affected by the eventual winner Sam Spinner making a mess of it just in front of him, but he quickly bounced back, looking a bright prospect when winning at Newcastle. He was then set a stiff task in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival but ran well for a long way, only tiring after the third-last and shaping better than the result suggests. He finished an encouraging second over an inadequate two miles and one furlong on his return at Kelso this month, and he should be spot on with that outing under his belt, identifying him as one to consider at a big price.

A stat to note

Nigel Twiston-Davies has won the Charlie Hall Chase six times

Nigel Twiston-Davies tends to have his stable fit and firing in the autumn, so it is perhaps no surprise that he has a good record in the Charlie Hall, which is one of the first major races of the jumps season. Ballyoptic gave Twiston-Davies a sixth Charlie Hall when scoring last season, and he is back to defend his crown having proved as good as ever when winning a listed handicap at Ascot when last seen in February. Ballyoptic is carrying a 6 lb penalty in the Charlie Hall this season and doesn’t have the benefit of a run under his belt this time, but fitness is rarely an issue for a Twiston-Davies runner in this contest. Ballyoptic looks sure to give it another good shot.

The Verdict

This is a fascinating renewal of the Charlie Hall Chase and revolves around what level of form Cyrname will show under conditions that might not be his optimum. He seemingly failed to stay when below his best in the King George on his only previous attempt at three miles, but he didn’t travel with his usual zest on that occasion, so it’s not conclusive that a lack of stamina was the reason for the under-performance. All his best efforts have been when going right-handed, but he’s not had many opportunities in this direction – certainly not at his peak – and it’s worth taking a chance that he can outclass these rivals. The prolific Vinndication has a good record fresh and is up to making a mark at this level, so he looks best placed to capitalise if the selection disappoints, while Ballyoptic should also give a good account.

Timeform weight-adjusted ratings:

  • 189 Cyrname
  • 180 Vinndication
  • 178 Definitly Red
  • 178 Ballyoptic
  • 176+ Sam Spinner
  • 176 La Bague Au Roi