Definitly in Sky Bet Chase frame
Definitly Red features among 46 entries for the £80,000 Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster on Saturday, January 28.
Brian Ellison: Has Sky Bet Chase in mind for star
The three-mile Listed handicap chase is the richest Jump race of the year at Doncaster and the feature of an exciting seven-race card on which Sky Bet also supports the £50,000 Sky Bet First Race Special Handicap Chase and the £35,000 Grade Two Sky Bet Lightning Novices' Chase, both run over an extended two miles.
Definitly Red, trained by Brian Ellison at Norton in North Yorkshire, has been in excellent form and ended 2016 with a seven-length victory over Wakanda (Sue Smith, 16/1 with Sky Bet) in the Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at Wetherby .
That came on the back of a success over hurdles at Carlisle in October on his comeback and a respectable third behind Otago Trial in the Listed Rehearsal Handicap Chase at Newcastle on November 26.
Ellison said: "I thought Definitly Red was impressive at Wetherby. I know he has lots of good form on heavy ground but I do think the ground at Wetherby [good to soft] is what he wants because he isn't slow. He won a nice race at Ayr over two and a half.
"I am very happy with him. He has run against some very good horses and is right up there with them. He beat a fair horse [Onefitzall] at Carlisle and then he was bit unlucky at Newcastle because the ground was horrible and he went wide the whole way. He is in great form and will go for either the Sky Bet Chase or the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock the week before.
"We will get his next race out the way before making plans for the spring, but you would imagine he will have entries in the handicaps at Cheltenham, and also at Aintree and Ayr. Then next season we could work towards a race like the Hennessy."
Champion Jump trainer Paul Nicholls has eight entries, the most of any handler, and he has already tasted Sky Bet Chase success twice, thanks to Colourful Life (2005) and Big Fella Thanks (2009).
His possible contenders include Saphir Du Rheu (12/1), a Grade One-winning novice two seasons ago, Scottish Grand National victor Vicente (16/1) and Virak (14/1), a Grade Two scorer over the course and distance.
The all-conquering stable of Colin Tizzard has three possible representatives in Sandy Beach (12/1), who bolted up in a handicap chase at Newbury on his latest start, recent Cheltenham fourth Sizing Codelco (14/1) and popular ten-year-old Third Intention (16/1).
The eight-year-old, who triumphed as 8/1 co-second favourite last year, loves Doncaster for, as well as his Sky Bet Chase success, he won over the same course and distance the month before and, on his most recent start in December, finished third in a similar race.
Coologue continues to run well, winning at Cheltenham in October and finishing second at Newbury last month, while the Oxfordshire-based Longsdon also has Long Lunch (16/1) entered.
Long Lunch, a winner at Cheltenham and Warwick last year, finished a nose second in the Doncaster handicap chase won by No Duffer (Tom George, 16/1) in which Ziga Boy was third.
Other notable names include Southfield Royale (Neil Mulholland, 14/1), winner of the Grade Two December Novices' Chase over the course and distance last season, Kempton Park runner-up Go Conquer (Jonjo O'Neill, 16/1) and unexposed five-year-old Calett Mad (Nigel Twiston-Davies, 16/1).
The weights for the Sky Bet Chase are revealed on Wednesday, January 18.
Michael Shinners, Racing PR Manager at Sky Bet, said: "The Sky Bet Chase is always very competitive and the fact we are going 10/1 about the market leader Regal Encore demonstrates that it will be once again this year.
"With Sky Bet based in Yorkshire, it is always great to support our local courses and we have three terrific races to look forward to at Doncaster on January 28."
Doncaster's new Executive director Tim Banfield commented: "The Sky Bet Chase is always a highlight of the National Hunt season at Doncaster. Following Ziga Boy's impressive win in 2016, we are looking forward to the prospect of delivering another thrilling renewal."
Sky Bet Chase – Sky Bet prices: 10/1 Regal Encore; 12/1 Saphir Du Rheu, Definitly Red, Doctor Harper, Sandy Beach; 14/1 Virak, Vivaldi Collonges, Southfield Royale, Rock The Kasbah, Sizing Codelco, Ballyboker Breeze, Ziga Boy; 16/1 Tenor Nivernais, Third Intention, Le Mercurey, Volnay De Thaix, Wakanda, Vicente, Irish Saint, Yala Enki, Kruzhlinin, Coologue, No Duffer, Sego Success, Potters Corner, Go Conquer, Out Sam, Bigbadjohn, Another Hero, Long Lunch, Looking Well, Belami Des Pictons, Calett Mad; 20/1 Holywell, Just A Par, Caid Du Berlais, Warrantor, Fayette County, Morney Wing, Triolo D'Alene, Knock House, Zeroeshadesofgrey, Federici; 33/1 Racing Pulse, Katachenko, Sun Cloud