October's a funny time for racing in Britain but jumps season really gets going with the Charlie Hall Chase. This year, be thankful we actually know what distance the race is being run over.
Taking up the challenge is the astute Nick Palfrey, @8palfrey8, and you can read more of his work on his blog.
Bet365 Charlie Hall Chase
Grade 2, £100,000, Three Miles 45y
1505 local 0205 GMT
Saturday's renewal of Wetherby's greatest race has a small but very select field for the second consecutive season - In fact I can't remember off the top of my head two better renewals. Menorah attempts win the race again and faces a tough task with his 10lb penalty. Yes, he had to give away the same sort of weight last season but the two horses who benefited the most, Wayward Prince and Medermit, haven't the class that Cue Card, Dynaste and Ballynagour have. These three high class animals are most advantaged by the penalty values in tomorrow's contest which sees Many Clouds and Sam Winner carrying the same burden as Menorah and Holywell giving them 6lbs.
Menorah I can see running well again, he been a terrific servant for his connections but that weight concession will probably be too much for him given that this is a slightly better edition than last year's contest. I think the same comment broadly applies to Many Clouds and Sam Winner also. I also think the trip is on the short side for both these creatures though, they are strong staying types who ideally need further than three miles (I won't go into the controversies that have surrounded the actual distance of this race in the past, I'm going with the published trip of 3m45yds for the purpose of this piece.)
I'm a big fan of Holywell and have taken fancy prices about him for the Cheltenham Gold Cup but he seems to be a spring horse and the rain the track has had today (the ground is now soft) is against him unfortunately. I see the winner of this event coming from the trio on 11st. Cue Card would murder this field at his best but the last time he ran close to his best was almost two years ago when he beat Dynaste by four lengths or so in the Betfair Chase at Haydock. He's had multiple injuries since then and folded tamely behind Don Cossack at Aintree and Punchestown towards the tail end of last season and so is easily passed over at his rather cramped odds.
Dynaste and Ballynagour represent the David Pipe stable and with the weather forecast generally dry from now until race time I expect them both to line-up and fight out the finish. The former has had a pipe (geddit?) opener over hurdles in France which should see him spot on for this and at his best is the second best horse in the race behind Cue Card. Unlike that horse though there is little sign that he is on the downturn having run a stormer behind Silviniaco Conti in last season's King George. I admit the fact that this is his first outing over fences since he was sidelined from the spring Festivals due to injury is not ideal, but at his price (4/1) the other positives he has make him a worthwhile bet. His stable companion is worth a bit of cover if that's your thing, he runs well fresh and might have won the Betfred Bowl at Aintree in April (Menorah and Holywell in behind) but for a bad jump at the fourth last. However I think he's more ground dependant over fences than Dynaste and for that reason with the rain I will leave him alone.
In summary this is a cracking renewal of a famous race and I expect Dynaste to come on top.