Charlie Hall Chase 2023 | Thyme to win for Hill

Imperial Cup

The Breeders’ Cup kicked off a good weekend of racing action last night and before they regain the baton later today, eyes will turn to Charlie Hall Chase Day at Wetherby alongside an intriguing card at Ascot.

There are a few horses that I want to be on the side of today, so let’s dive straight in.


1:15 Wetherby – Eaton Collina @ 6/1 with William Hill – 1pt EW

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For anyone who watched the latest Only Fools Love Horses video, you may have a nice ante-post docket for Eaton Collina at 10/1 who is now a few points shorter.

Kerry Lee’s eight-year-old won twice as a novice chaser in early 2023, one of which was a 20-length demolition at Ascot in April and the other occurred at Chepstow in February; he beat Triple Trade, Joe Tizzard’s progressive seven-year-old that has improved 16 pounds since the run, on latter of those victories, so the form looks good.

Although he was beaten on seasonal reappearance in 2022 and 2021, Lee has had her horses fit and firing for their first runs this season, notably with Nemean Lion in the Welsh Champion Hurdle and Kraqueline at Wincanton on October 29th.

If this is the case, Eaton Collina looks like a typical improving type and hopefully, his mark of 118 is still workable.


2:05 Ascot – Saint Segal @ 9/2 with BetVictor – 1pt Win

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The first of my selections from Ascot comes in a competitive contest over two miles, and after much deliberation, Saint Segal is the one that I’ve fallen on.

Firstly, I appreciate the notion that horses trained by Jane Williams tend to come on for their first run of the season – as shown with this horse last season – but the market is positive for his chances and he’s had plenty of time to get ready for today.

The five-year-old by Saint Des Saints relished fences last season with two wins and a staying-on second to his name.

His Hereford success in early January took place on soft ground, suggesting today’s conditions will suit him well, and he even put up a good performance on quick ground at Doncaster 23 days later, showing he has a big engine.

Reading comments from Williams in James Stevens’ 2023/24 Horses To Follow (South West Edition), connections love this horse at home and a rating of 137 looks lenient.

With a few in here potentially at the top of their handicap mark or with bigger targets down the line, today could be the day to catch Saint Segal on his first run after a wind-op.


2:25 Wetherby – Thyme Hill @ 2/1 with Betvictor – 2pt Win

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The Grade 2 bet365 Hurdle has just six options to pick from this year, and the favourite Thyme Hill looks like the obvious one for a good reason.

Although last season didn’t go to plan over fences, the nine-year-old still retained his ability on the track when bolting up at Exeter on his chasing debut before his commanding display in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase on Boxing Day.

His two losses over fences came when the ground was too quick at Newbury in November and when never firing during the Grade 1 Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham.

Today, he comes into the race on the back of a 189-day break, something he’s not averse to doing as he won on seasonal reappearance in 2022, 2020, and 2019 as well as his win in the 2021 Grade 1 Ryanair Stayers Hurdle at Aintree following a 112-day break.

With his good record on soft and heavy ground – as shown by his second to Paisley Park in the 2020 Long Walk Hurdle on heavy and second to Flooring Porter in the 2022 Stayers’ Hurdle on soft – a lot is seemingly in his favour today.


2:40 Ascot – Ten Lengths Tom @ 5/1 General – 1pt EW

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Betting in novice hurdles in October is risky business at the best of times, let alone when the ground is testing, but there’s plenty to like about the profile of Ten Lengths Tom for the Tom Lacey yard.

The four-year-old ran in two bumpers last season, the first of which occurred at Sandown when sandwiched by a pair of Paul Nicholls runners on good to soft ground.

The exciting Inthewaterside won the race, a horse who won on hurdling debut at Aintree earlier this week, with the well-regarded Wrappedupinmay eight lengths behind in third.

The Mount Nelson gelding then went to Warwick for his next start and bolted up by five-and-a-half lengths having travelled cooly into the race under Stan Sheppard before he was asked to quicken away with just over a furlong ago.

He showed an impressive turn of foot over two miles that day in what was deplorable conditions at Warwick, suggesting today’s deep ground at Ascot should cause no issues.

The two horses ahead of him in the market – Jango Baie and Tellherthename – come from the point-to-point scene, so with the chance that both of them may need further in time after today’s hurdling debut, Ten Lengths Tom looks like a solid contender.


3:15 Ascot – Altobelli @ 4/1 with William Hill – 2pt Win

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The form of Harry Fry’s yard over the last few weeks makes for tough reading, though that can hopefully change with Altobelli in the 3:15 at Ascot.

The five-year-old by Maxios was well-spoken of by connections last season as a novice hurdler to follow and his 25-length victory at Carlisle certainly showed his booming ability.

Things didn’t go his way when sent to the Grade 1 Top Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree in April, though I’m happy to forgive him as it was his first outing in a Grade 1 on ever-quickening Aintree ground.

Although Fry may have one eye on the Betfair Exchange Trophy Handicap Hurdle over course and distance in December, his form of beating Uncle Bert (a two-time hurdles winner since) and Ginny’s Destiny (rated 135 over hurdles) last season is hard to ignore.

Connections think Altobelli is a Graded horse in the making, so off his current mark of 131 in conditions that should suit, hopefully he is bang on to take home this £60,000 contest.

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