Who was Charlie Hall?

To modern horse racing fans, the name ‘Charlie Hall’ is best known from the title of the Charlie Hall Chase, a Grade 2 steeplechase run over 3 miles at Wetherby in late October or early November. Inaugurated, as the Wetherby Pattern Chase, in 1969, the race was renamed to the Charlie Hall Memorial Wetherby Pattern Chase in 1978 and renamed, again, to the present title in 1990.

The titular William ‘Charlie’ Hall, who died in 1977, was a successful trainer based in Towton, near Tadcaster, North Yorkshire. Towton is just 20 minutes’ drive from Wetherby Racecourse, where Hall saddled 169 winners during his career and is commemorated by what has become the traditional curtain-raiser for the National Hunt season.

Born in 1903, Charlie Hall was the elder brother of Sam Hall, who became a legendary trainer of handicappers on Flat, winning the November Handicap five times, the Ebor Handicap three times and the Lincoln Handicap and Wokingham Handicap twice apiece. Charlie Hall began his own training career shortly after the end of World War II and at the time of his retirement, in 1975, had saddled 584 winners under National Hunt Rules and a further 100 winners on the Flat. At that stage, he was succeeded by his stepson, Maurice Camacho. Hall was Champion National Hunt Trainer just once, in 1955/56, famously saddling Doorknocker, owned by Clifford Nicholson and ridden by Harry Sprague, to victory in the Champion Hurdle at the 1956 Cheltenham Festival.