@SeanRaymond shares his thoughts ahead of Saturday’s Charlie Hall Chase before concluding that The Giant Bolster is where the value lies…
The eyes of the Jumps Racing world in the UK will fall on Wetherby as they play host to their biggest fixture of the season this weekend. The National Hunt winter is really starting to ramp up a gear right now, and that will certainly continue in West Yorkshire on Saturday afternoon with the Charlie Hall Chase the feature race of the day. The 3m1f contest has grown and grown in stature over the past few years and that is the case once again with a very strong field of quality chasers assembling for this one.
Silviniaco Conti is without doubt one of the best staying chasers in training at the moment and the Paul Nicholls trained horse will be going for a second Charlie Hall win on Saturday on seasonal debut. The nine-year-old won the Charlie Hall two years ago before he produced a career best last Christmas to win the King George VI Chase at Kempton in great style for connections. That performance was top class by any standard as he pulled clear of the excellent Cue Card and that form ensures he is the one to beat here.
He went to the Gold Cup last season off of the back of that King George success but after travelling really well, he curled up slightly after the final fence to fall away into fourth place which was a slight disappointment. The defence of his King George title and another tilt at the Gold Cup remain the key targets this season which is a word of caution for punters backing him to win here but he is the experienced chaser with the best form in the field which explains his price of 5/4 with Bet Victor to claim the win.
If Silviniaco Conti can win this weekend, he will become the sixth dual winner of the race but if he slips below his normal standard, there are one or two horses in this field more than capable of causing the favourite a problem or two. Chief among those is Taquin Du Seuil who is a second season chaser for Jonjo O’Neill and a very classy one at that. He was the excellent winner of the JLT Novices Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last March and he has the advantage of already having a run under his belt this season which could give him a fitness edge.
The seven-year-old was a distant third at Newton Abbot a few weeks back which was so far below his best that Taquin Du Seuil does have something to prove here. He clearly needed the run that day which is without question and he will need to bounce back quickly to his best form if he is to challenge the favourite at Wetherby.
Menorah (7/1) and Medermit (10/1) are both experienced chasers who have shown on their day that they are more than capable of mixing it with the very best horses. Menorah in particular could be an interesting each-way bet at Wetherby for the bang in-form Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson team and although the feeling with both if these horses is that both have seen better days. Medermit returned last season after a long injury lay-off but in truth he only looked solid rather than spectacular in three appearances which is likely to leave him short in the Charlie Hall if the market leaders perform anywhere near their best on Saturday.
The Giant Bolster has been placed in the top four of the Gold Cup for the past three years which is top class form and he will be making his seasonal debut in the Charlie Hall on the his first step back to the Festival. The David Bridgwater trained chaser always seems to save his best form for Cheltenham which does count against him here but if he can produce anything like his top form, it is easy to make a case for the nine-year-old running on into a place at a nice price of 10/1.
Rightly so this race revolves around Silviniaco Conti and whether or not he is at his best for a first start of the season. The King George remains the key early season race for him but it would be a surprise if Paul Nicholls didn’t have him in fairly decent shape for this one. Taquin Du Seuil is of interest but his poor run last time means he is best watched on this occasion which means that it is The Giant Bolster who makes most appeal here from an each-way betting appeal at a price of 10/1 w. Silviniaco Conti sets the standard and should win but he there is not much value in following him at Wetherby for punters with The Giant Bolster carrying our each-way money as a result.