Sky Bet Chase: Runner by runner
We've got a horse by horse guide to the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster on Saturday, with Ziga Boy bidding for a repeat success.
The Sky Bet Chase, once known as the Great Yorkshire Chase, was first run in 1948 and has been won by some of the sport's most famous names such as 1961 Grand National winner Nicolaus Silver and Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Knock Hard.
The Doncaster meeting has met with its share of weather woe in recent years with the card abandoned in 2010, 2011 and 2013 but clerk of the course Roderick Duncan said on Wednesday that he was "very confident" Saturday's high-class card would go ahead. Let's hope he's right!
We've got a guide to the feature handicap below and you can check out the latest odds from the sponsors – who are paying five places instead of four – by clicking here.
Yet to win beyond two miles and five furlongs but wasn't beaten far over this trip at Ascot on his penultimate start so stamina is arguably not an issue. He hasn't won a handicap since November 2015 though when rated 20lb lower and seems likely to find one or two better treated again.
Has done his winning at trips up to two and a half miles but he appeared to see out a longer distance in two runs over Cheltenham's cross-country course. That is a very different test to a conventional three miles, of course, and it will be surprising if he can see off some less-exposed rivals in this line-up.
Sent off at just 8/1 for this race last year but pulled up. Bounced back to form at the Cheltenham Festival on his next start but has failed to fire since so is difficult to back with any confidence at present. That said, his yard is ticking along nicely and he's slipped back to a competitive mark.
Last season's Scottish Grand National winner has been passed over by Sam Twiston-Davies who was on board at Ayr but he's only 3lb higher now so has been given every chance by the assessor and conditions should pose no problems. One for the shortlist.
Off the track since the Punchestown Festival but has been the subject of positive vibes and holds a prominent position in the market. Showed smart form as a novice, finishing second in a Grade One and fourth over four miles at the Cheltenham Festival. Potentially well treated on that evidence and looks a leading player here for a race that has been on his agenda for some time.
Caid Du Berlais
Returned from injury in good heart, winning over hurdles over three miles but was a touch disappointing back over fences last time. Attractively weighted on the best of his chase form and Sam Twiston-Davies rides but has his well-being to prove.
Runner-up 12 months ago from a 6lb lower mark but hasn't got very many miles on the clock so could conceivably find the improvement needed to cope with that higher mark. Stable in great form at present and this race is likely to have been the target once again so no surprise to see this sound jumper involved in the finish.
Lacks the experience of some of his rivals but has never finished outside the first three in nine career starts. Most impressive in a competitive race last time and may be capable of better yet – but will need to be if he's to land this stronger race from a 10lb higher rating.
Grand National a possible target for this likeable, sound-jumping stayer, but he'd need to go up in the weights to make the Aintree field and connections will be hoping for another big run. Showed a good attitude to win at Newbury last time and seems happiest on decent ground, so should get his conditions again. A player.
Not weighted to reverse recent course-and-distance form with Long Lunch, but possibly wasn't quite at his best there. Impressive winner of this race 12 months ago under an aggressive ride, confirming his liking for this track and conditions. Application of first-time cheekpieces could also help put a bit of sparkle back and entitled to close consideration for stable still banging out the winners.
Late starter who is only a novice over fences, but far from disgraced in the face of impossible task behind Thistlecrack in novice chase at Newbury's Hennessy meeting last time out. Handicapper has had to take a guess as to the worth of that form, but suspicion is that he might not be over-burdened and interesting to see money arrive in recent days. Completely unexposed and must be considered a big hope.
Trainer often likes to pick one out for this prize and no surprise to see him attracting support at the start of the week. Progressed last season until falling when quietly fancied for the Irish National and built on gentle reintroduction when close-up fourth in big handicap at Ascot last time. Another step forward from that run would give him a fine chance, although a career-best is clearly required.
Dual winner as a novice last season and well-touted for handicap at Cheltenham Festival, but nothing has gone to plan since, with a poor run at the same track followed by a fall when still in with a chance. Still looked a hard ride when tried in cheekpieces on latest start, but caught the eye making some late gains and possible better could be on the cards here.
Memorable winner at Grand National meeting last year, but handicapper possibly still has him in his grip judged by most recent efforts. Major question mark over his ability to handle this move up in trip too.
This is a very different kettle of fish to the small-field events in which he has learned his craft as a chaser, but he's an interesting contender for a trainer who doesn't tilt at windmills, especially on his first start for several months. Hard not to be concerned as to whether he might not find this all a bit too much though.
Having looked a hard ride on occasions in the past, he has found form again since cheekpieces were added and he travelled with uncharacteristic ease on most recent start here, coasting into a clear advantage before idling and unluckily being caught in the final strides. Handicapper hasn't got carried away and impossible to put a line through him given that latest decent effort and the possibility that a stronger-run contest could suit him better.
Plenty of interesting types in opposition here. Vicente wasn't disgraced in the Welsh National and ought to do better on this ground, while Coologue is a straightforward type, for whom connections have eyed this race for a while after his big effort 12 months ago. Bigbadjohn could be anything, although he'll need to iron out the jumping errors, and the vote goes to SOUTHFIELD ROYALE, who looks well treated on his 13-length defeat of Coologue as a novice. He seems particularly effective on good going and the left-handed track here may also suit. If anyone can get him ripe first time out for this, it's Neil Mulholland.
1st Southfield Royale 2nd Bigbadjohn 3rd Coologue 4th Another Hero
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