The Flat season has a big weekend at the Breeders’ Cup, but the National Hunt game is ramping things up and the first big staying chase of the campaign takes place on Saturday with the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby.
It has been won by some high-class animals down the years, Wayward Lad, Burrough Hill Lad, Barton Bank, One Man and See More Business among them. If there is to be a future Gold Cup or King George VI Chase winner in the field it is likely to be Silviniaco Conti.
Paul Nicholls’ charge looked top class when slamming Champion Court by 13 lengths at Aintree in April. Stepping into graded company against seasoned campaigners will be the true test, but Wetherby looks an ideal starting point.
Bet365 have priced Silviniaco Conti up as their 11/4 jolly, which reinforces the regard he is held in. Last year’s first and second, Weird Al and Time For Rupert, spearhead the opposition - while Irish raider First Lieutenant is an intriguing runner.
The admirable Midnight Chase will make it a true test from the front, but the each-way alternative could be Diamond Harry who is far from consistent but top class on his day.
Charlie Hall Chase: Silviniaco Conti 11/4, Weird Al 5/1, Time For Rupert 6/1, First Lieutenant 6/1, Midnight Chase 8/1, Planet Of Sound 8/1, Diamond Harry 10/1, 12/1 bar