The Charlie Hall Chase (3.35pm, Wetherby, Saturday) is the first major staying chase of the season and this year sees the reappearance of last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup third, fifth and seventh, Long Run, Cape Tribulation and Wayward Prince in the select seven-runner line-up. For the last two seasons Long Run has reappeared in the Betfair Chase at Haydock (this year scheduled for November 23), but trainer Nicky Henderson (pictured) reports that he is further forward in his preparation this time around.
In the absence of First Lieutenant and The Giant Bolster, Long Run (5/4) has 11lb and upwards in hand of his rivals, according to the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), so is clearly the horse around which the race revolves.
Nicky Henderson’s eight-year-old has won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the King George VI Chase (twice) and is yet to finish out of the first three in 26 starts over hurdles and fences. He starts this season with a rating of 171, 7lb lower than at the same time last year, and has an absence of 192 days to overcome, but his trainer is sure to have him as fit as he can be for his reappearance and he is, without question, the one to beat.
Cape Tribulation (7/1) is the second best horse in the race, according to the BHA, but finished 12¼ lengths behind Long Run when fifth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and reopposes on identical terms. On the prevailing good to soft going, he appears to have little chance of reversing the form with the favourite, but his last two wins have come on heavy going, so any rain that falls on West Yorkshire between now and Saturday afternoon will be in his favour.
Another horse who would appreciate rain is Unioniste (10/3), winner of the Charity Challenge Gold Cup, over 2 miles 5 furlongs, on heavy going at Cheltenham last December. He beat subsequent Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup winner, Same Difference, when winning a novices’ chase, on soft going, on his first attempt over three miles at Newbury last February and, still only a five-year-old, has plenty of time on his side. However, he has 18lb to find with Long Run on official ratings and appears to be racing for second place, at best, if the favourite runs to form.
Harry Topper (8/1) won his first three starts over fences last season, including the Grade 2 Worcester Novices’ Chase at Newbury in November, in which he beat Benefficient (8/1) by 1½ lengths. He unseated his rider and was brought down on his last two starts, but that shouldn’t necessarily be held against him and he’s 2lb better off with Benefficient this time around.
Harry Topper’s trainer, Kim Bailey, doesn’t expect him to beat Long Run at this relatively early stage of his career – he has 19lb to find on official ratings – but he is easily the most promising horse in the field. He could be the one to take advantage if things don’t go according to plan for the favourite.
Master Of The Hall (33/1) was beaten out of sight by Silviniaco Conti on his two starts over fences last season and Wayward Prince (33/1) was pulled up behind Cape Tribulation in the Argento Chase at Cheltenham in January before finishing 62¼ lengths behind Long Run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup so, barring accidents, neither appears to have any conceivable chance.
He may be not be our most original betting tips selection, but LONG RUN has plenty going for him on his reappearance, so our advice is to back him to win at best odds of 5/4 with Bet365.