Charlie Hall Chase betting: Bravemansgame favourite to repeat Wetherby win
Bravemansgame is 8/11 favourite in Coral’s Charlie Hall Chase betting odds for a repeat success in Saturday’s race at Wetherby.
Following victory in this race 12 months ago, Bravemansgame went on to add the King George VI Chase at Christmas before brave efforts in defeat at both the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals in the spring.
Trainer Paul Nicholls was originally keen to point his Gold Cup runner-up towards Haydock’s Betfair Chase, but concerned about bottomless ground on Merseyside later this month, has elected for Bravemansgame to defend his Charlie Hall crown before returning to Kempton on Boxing Day.
Ahoy Senor, last of five when sent off the 11/10 favourite in the Charlie Hall Chase betting odds 12 months ago, is expected to be his main challenger and is second favourite at 3/1.
Lucinda Russell’s star chaser went on to prove any doubters wrong in the second half of the campaign.
Having won the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January, he was putting up a bold show when a faller six out in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and showed no ill effects when quickly backing that performance up to finish a fine second to Shishkin in the Bowl at Aintree.
Jockey Derek Fox is thrilled to be able to take the ride having successfully appealed a 10-day ban picked up at the track last month, which would have left him sat on the sidelines on Saturday afternoon.
He said: “I’m delighted I’m able to ride him, it’s all systems go and we’re looking forward to getting him out again.
“I’ve rode him out and we’re all happy with him – he’s in good form and all seems well.
“He might have needed it (the run) a bit last year. I actually don’t think he ran that badly, he was just a bit free and got a bit tired.”
The Charlie Hall Chase 2023 is set to be run in testing conditions with Wetherby abandoning racing at the track on Friday.
However, Fox is happy his mount will be OK on the ground despite it not being connections’ preferred going for his West Yorkshire return.
He added: “He’s handled heavy ground before. Probably for the first day out for the season, ideally you wouldn’t have it so heavy, but it’s the same for them all and he handles any ground.
“We’re going there hopeful that he’s in good order at home and hoping he’ll do well.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Russell’s partner and assistant Peter Scudamore, who said: “We’ve obviously discussed it and Derek doesn’t see it as an issue.
“It was very tacky and dead ground the day he won at Cheltenham. He’s a free-going sort, but I don’t see it being too big an issue.”
Scudamore is no stranger to top-class staying chasers and the former champion jockey is looking forward to seeing Ahoy Senor kick off his new campaign.
“You are always nervous when you run a horse like that,” said Scudamore.
“We really fancied him last year (in the race) and it all went wrong, but he picked himself up from that and was able to run some really nice races.
“To be fair to the horse, he had a bad start to last season but then he ran some fabulous races, the two Cheltenham runs and Aintree, so we just need to have him back to that level.
“I’m a little bit more relaxed than I was and I just hope he jumps sensibly and then we can look at the Coral Gold Cup for him.
“This isn’t the be-all and end-all of the season, but we’re looking forward to it.”
Dan Skelton’s Midnight River (pictured below) successfully stepped up in trip when winning a big handicap at Aintree on Grand National Day and will ply his trade once again over a staying distance, while Mouse Morris will saddle the sole Irish challenger Gentlemansgame.
Morris has enjoyed success at Wetherby in the past, with the Tony McCoy-ridden Boss Doyle finishing second to Strath Royal in the 1998 Charlie Hall Chase before going on to win back-to-back runnings of the West Yorkshire Hurdle in 2000 and 2001. He also filled the runner-up spot in the same race when bidding for the hat-trick in 2002.
Morris will now bid to enhance that record with the strapping seven-year-old who makes just his third appearance over fences.
“He’s travelled over and he’s in good shape so hopefully it’s on now, that’s the main thing,” said the Irishman.
“He ran well in Gowran and we just need to get a bit of experience into him. He’s being thrown in at the deep end on Saturday, but as long as he gives a good account of himself I’ll be happy.
“I don’t think the ground or the trip will be a problem, but you can’t beat experience in life.”
Coral’s David Stevens said: “In contrast to last year’s Charlie Hall Chase, this time around Bravemansgame is a warm favourite to come out on top, while Ahoy Senor is second favourite to make amends for his disappointing run in this contest 12 months ago.”
Charlie Hall Chase betting odds
3/1 Ahoy Senor
10/1 Midnight River
View the latest horse racing odds
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication