Champion Standard Open National Flat Race  The Champion Standard Open National Flat Race is a Grade 2 flat race, run under National Hunt rules, over 2 miles and 209 yards on the Mildmay Course at Aintree in early April. Open to horses aged between four and six years, the race is currently scheduled as the final contest on the third and final day of the Grand National Festival, immediately following the Grand National itself. The 2023 renewal of the Champion Standard Open National Flat Race is scheduled for 6.20pm on Grand National Day, Saturday, April 15.

The Champion Standard Open National Flat Race was inaugurated, over 2 miles, in 1987, but was lengthened slightly, to 2 miles and 110 yards, in 1993 and again, to its current distance, in 2001; the race was elevated to Grade 2 status in 1995. Since 2014, the race has been sponsored by Weatherbys and was run, most recently, as Weatherbys Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.

Gloucestershire trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has saddled four winners of the Champion Standard Open National Flat Race – namelyKing’s Road (1998), The Cool Guy (2005), The New One (2012) and Ballybolley (2014) – and is the most successful handler in its history. Trainer statistics are obviously something for ante-post punters to bear in mind – Nicky Henderson, for example, has a lifetime 25% strike rate in ‘bumpers’, but is 0-22 since 2003 in this race – but so, too, are some other recent trends.

Over the last ten years, at least one win under National Hunt rules, over a similar distance and, preferably, during the current season, has proved a must-have, as has an official rating of 118, or higher. Conversely, course form, even winning course form, has proved completely inconsequential in that period and it is also worth noting that McFabulous (2019) was the only winning favourite.

Charlie Hall Chase  The Charlie Hall Chase is a Grade 2 steeplechase run over 3 miles and 45 yards at Wetherby in late October or early November. Open to horses aged five years and upwards, the race is acknowledged as an early-season trial for top-class steeplechasers on the road to the Cheltenham Festival and beyond, but is a prestigious and valuable contest in its own right. Indeed, with £100,000 in total prize money, the Charlie Hall Chase is the highlight of the National Hunt season at the North Yorkshire course.

Inaugurated as the Wetherby Chase Pattern in 1969, the race was renamed to the Charlie Hall Memorial Wetherby Pattern Chase in 1978 to commemorate celebrated local trainer William ‘Charlie’ Hall, who died, aged 75, the previous year. Based at Towton, near Tadcaster, Hall was champion National Hunt trainer in 1955/56 and saddled 169 of his 584 career winners at Wetherby. The race title was condensed to the Charlie Hall Chase in 1990.

Veteran trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has won the Charlie Hall Chase six times, courtesy of Tipping Tim (1992), Young Hustler (1994), Ollie Magern (2005, 2007), Bristol de Mai (2017), and Ballyoptic (2019), and is the most successful handler in its history. Other notable winners down the years include Wayward Lad (1983, 1985), Burrough Hill Hill Lad (1984), Forgive ‘N’ Forget (1986), Barton Bank (1993, 1995), One Man (1996, 1997), See More Business (1999, 2000), Silviniaco Conti (2012) and Cue Card (2015).

It would be fair to say that the latest renewal of the Charlie Hall Chase, run on October 29, 2022, was a less-than-vintage affair by comparison, especially with the favourite, Ahoy Senor, finishing all but tailed off, last of the five runners. That said, the winner, Bravemansgame, is currently quoted at 16/1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and just 12/1 for the Ryanair Chase, so it will be interesting to see how the form works out.