First published on Tuesday, October 27
A blast from the past! Take a trip down the Charlie Hall Chase memory lane
If the highest-rated chaser in Britain produces his best form in the Bet365 Charlie Hall Chase on Saturday, he will surely outclass his rivals with ease, right? If only it was that simple.
With a rating of 176, Cyrname has 13lb in hand to his nearest rival on the official ratings in the Wetherby feature and has the strongest form next to his name, with his defeat of Altior last season and a sensational victory in the 2019 Ascot Chase his standout performances.
However, he also has plenty of question marks to answer and this is undoubtedly a fact-finding mission for Paul Nicholls’ charge.
The eight-year-old has never won going left-handed, and Saturday will be the first time he has run that way round since his defeat at Aintree in 2018 – when he was rated 150 – and his three victories since have all been at Ascot.
He is also yet to prove he stays three miles, and he appeared to fail to stay the distance on his only try over that trip in the King George last year.
It’s unlikely Nicholls will have Cyrname at peak fitness, either, with a number of Grade One targets on the horizon this season.
Only two favourites have been successful in the past ten renewals of the Charlie Hall Chase, and we have seen some star names – who were sent off at evens or shorter - have their colours lowered in the Grade Two contest, including Long Run (2013), Silviniaco Conti (2014) and Cue Card (2016).
There are certainly enough negatives to put you off backing Cyrname at a general 6-4.
Kim Bailey, who landed this race with Harry Topper in 2013, looks to hold strong claims with Vinndication.
Watch how Vinndication fared in the Ultima at the Cheltenham Festival
Bailey’s charge produced some strong form in novice chases, including when a close third behind Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation in the Scilly Isles, before taking the handicap route, and I was thoroughly impressed with his victory in the Sodexo Gold Cup last season following a wind op.
That victory came after a 233-day break, so he clearly goes well fresh, and Bailey has been operating at a strike-rate of 29 per cent in the past fortnight which suggests his string are not lacking for fitness.
The Andoversford handler has always believed his seven-year-old will develop into a Gold Cup horse in time and Vinndication remains with a huge amount of potential with just six starts over fences under his belt.
One slight worry is that he has failed to show his best in two starts going left-handed. However, both of those efforts have been at Cheltenham, and I am not convinced the track plays to his strengths as he also failed to impress in the jumping department on both occasions.
Kim Bailey discusses Vinndication and explains why Cyrname is "potentially vulnerable"
He still performed with credit in defeat when carrying top weight in the Ultima at the Festival, and with plenty of rain forecast between now and Saturday, the likelihood of soft ground will not be a hinderance.
I’m sure connections will have had this race in mind for some time and I am confident his odds will be shorter than 50-1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup at 3.30pm on Saturday.
Two previous winners of the race – Ballyoptic and Definitly Red – are among the ten declared, although the former does not have the advantage of a recent run this year, and the latter, now an 11-year-old, disappointed 12 months ago.
Sam Spinner is three from three over fences and returns from a 322-day absence following an injury. The Grade One-winning hurdler is yet to reach his full potential over the larger obstacles, but it will be some training performance by Jedd O’Keeffe if his stable star is victorious on Saturday.
Recommended bet: Back VINNDICATION to win at a general 11-2.
First published on Tuesday, October 27
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