Charlie making the most of his Kiwi experience

By Dennis Ryan

6 Jul 2022

Charlie making the most of his Kiwi experienceArgyll and Charlie Case share the pace with West Coast and Shaun Fannin with a round to go in the AH

“I think Paul was wanting to get some idea of my capabilities, so he got me to school Argyll.”
To suggest he has landed on the pig’s back would perhaps be paying Charlie Case a dis-service, however the young English jumps jockey is the first to admit that his Kiwi winter sojourn has already exceeded his wildest hopes.
Within days of answering the call and arriving at Paul and Carol Nelson’s Hawke’s Bay property, Chase found himself with four rides on the Waikato Steeplechase programme and a second placing in the day’s feature on the Kevin Myers-trained Albaron.
A week later he scored his first New Zealand success on Rotorua hurdle winner Leitrim Lad and last Saturday his skills were there for all to see with an all-the-way Hawke’s Bay Steeplechase win on the Nelson-McDougal-trained Argyll.
“I’m over the moon to be honest,” 22-year-old Chase told RaceForm as he continued to take stock of his good fortune. “I’m very lucky to get the opportunity after I came down to New Zealand not quite sure what to expect.”
Argyll, who had won the Waikato Steeplechase for stable rider Shaun Phelan, was in fact the first horse Chase rode on the Nelsons’ Air Hill farm just two days earlier, the morning after he had arrived fresh off the plane.
“I think Paul was wanting to get some idea of my capabilities, so he got me to school Argyll,” said Chase. “It all went well and I learnt something about the horse as well – I thought he was a very clever jumper.”
When No Tip, the stable’s highest rated steeplechaser, was also entered for the Hawke’s Bay Steeplechase, Chase found himself engaged for Argyll. And neither horse nor rider put a foot wrong as they completed a clean sweep for the country’s dominant jumping stable after Phelan had partnered The Cossack to yet another big win in the Hawke’s Bay Hurdle along with maiden jumps wins on Noess and The Anarchist.
“I’m not sure if Shaun made the call to ride No Tip, but I wasn’t complaining to get the ride on Argyll,” added Case. “I thought he was still an improving horse and as it turned out he gave me a lovely ride.”
Carrying three kilos less than his stablemate, Argyll made all the running with West Coast close by and leading briefly after Argyll made his only slight mistake with a round to go. Meanwhile Phelan had been stalking just off the pace on No Tip and made his move with 800 metres to run.
From that point the stablemates dominated the race. Argyll had plenty left, however, and after being eye-balled by No Tip over the final two jumps, he drew clear to win by eight lengths.
“It was a very good ride,” says Nelson. “Charlie rated the horse very well, got him into a nice rhythm and I think it’s fair to say nobody could have ridden him better.”
Chase, who stands alongside Phelan as the tallest in the jockeys’ room, rides in the UK under an amateur licence that also allows him to compete against professionals. The majority of his 90-odd rides have been in point-point-points, and he has ridden 11 winners.
“I’ve been very fortunate that my Dad trains, so I grew up with horses,” he says. “It’s not a big stable, around 30 with some flat, mostly National Hunt, and he’s trained winners at the three big festivals – Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown in Ireland.
“I’ve got ambitions back home, it would be a dream to ride at Cheltenham and the one race I’d just love to ride in is the Fox Hunters’ Chase at Aintree – that’s the race every amateur wants to win.”
For the meantime, however, Chase is keenly focussed on upcoming opportunities, in particular next week’s Trentham meeting and the Grand National carnival at Riccarton in August.
“That figure-eight steeplechase course at Trentham looks very interesting. I’ve already seen some video clips and I’d love to ride around it.
“My girlfriend has just arrived for a couple of weeks’ holiday, so it would be wonderful if I could pick another win while she’s here.”
Chase intends seeing out the remainder of the local jumps season before heading home to continue his real estate studies, which are at degree level in the UK.
“The luck I’ve had so far has caught the attention of a few of my mates back home, so hopefully what I’ve managed to do has been a good promotion for New Zealand jumps racing.”