Sky Bet Handicap Chase Doncaster Tips

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Sky Bet Handicap Chase 3m Doncaster Saturday – last week’s selection Bristol De Mai, hopefully left followers of Oddsguru in a happy frame of mind. In what looked a particularly strong Peter Marsh Chase, he turned the race into a procession, winning by 22L, with his head in his chest, at odds of 4/1. Jumping superbly from flag fall, he never touched a twig on the way round, and the ease of his victory made a mockery of his mark of 154. A Dual Grade1 winner, this brilliant 6yo, who may still have further improvement to come, comprehensively proved on Saturday that stamina is his strong suit, and as he demonstrated last March, when finishing second to Black Hercules at the Cheltenham Festival, that Prestbury Park holds no fears, he must now be considered a serious threat to all if going for this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Although this Saturday’s Sky Bet Chase, in it’s previous incarnation, as the The Great Yorkshire Chase, does boast, in its dim and distant past, two future Cheltenham Gold Cup winners, Knock Hard in 1953, and Bregawn in 1982, it’s pretty unlikely that Saturday’s contest is harbouring another. Nevertheless it looks a highly competitive heat and no doubt will take a good animal to collect. It has been a good race for Novices with seven of them in the last twenty runnings coming home in front. Doncaster is a course where top handicaps tend to get competitive a long way from home so strong stamina credentials are important and a glance down the roll of honour of the race, reveals three Grand National Winners, Freebooter, E.S.B. and Nicolas Silver.

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Vicente, trained by Paul Nicholls, could go close this weekend says the Guru

Paul Nicholls has won two of the past ten renewals of the “Sky Bet” and of his three entries, the 8yo Vicente looks the most interesting. The winner of last year’s Scottish National, off a mark of 146, he races on Saturday off a mark only 3lbs higher, and with the forecast looking reasonable for the weekend, may get the decent ground he prefers. His super shrewd trainer may well have his eye on the Grand National weights, and a few pounds rise in his charges burden would not come amiss, to guarantee a place in the line up for the big one in April. Worth considering!

Rebecca Curtis has two entered at the time of writing and her 8yo Novice, Bigbadjohn catches the eye. A decent hurdler, rated 136, he has only had the three runs over fences, and showed plenty of promise on the first of them, finishing third in a Uttoxeter Class3. He took a big step forward a month later at Newbury winning by 6L from subsequent winner Our Kaempfer, and last time ran another fine race when finishing second, 8L behind Gold Cup favourite, Thistlecrack, with the useful, Ibis Du Rheu, who was receiving 7lbs a further 6L back in third. He gets into Saturday’s contest on a mark of 136, giving him a nice racing weight of 10st10lbs and looks well treated. Considering the good record of Novices in the race, this son of Vinnie Roe, a strong influence for stamina, is definitely one to be interested in.

Last year’s winner the Alan King Trained 8yo, Ziga Boy, already a veteran of 21 chases is only 4lbs higher this time. Having his second race of the season and running off Saturday’s mark of 137 he unseated at the first over the National fences at Aintree in December, but showed there were no ill effects a week later, when running a solid race over Saturday’s course and distance, to finish third behind No Duffer and another of the weekend opponents, Long Lunch. He was 5L behind Long Lunch that day and now meets him on 5lbs better terms. It could be close between them but I fancy Alan Kings charge, who is becoming something of a course specialist, (2wins 1place from 3 course appearances) to come out on top this time.

The Warren Greatrex trained 8yo, Out Sam won the first two of his seven starts over fences, but for the next four, the wheels seemed to be missing. However he looked back on track last time when putting in a very solid round over Kemptons tricky circuit. Despite jumping left he finished a respectable third, 3 1/2L and 1L behind Double Shuffle and Saturday’s opponent, Go Conquer. A pound better off with the latter, and bound to be much better suited by flat, left handed Doncaster he is certainly worth a second look on his attractive mark of 136, only 1lb higher than the 135 he earned over the smaller obstacles.

The Neil Mulholland trained 7yo, Southfield Royale, showed that he can go well after a break when running a great race to finish 4th in last years National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, following a three month lay off. Indeed he may well have made Minella Rocco and Native River really pull out all the stops that day, but for making a howler at the second last. He is a winner at Grade2 level over the course and distance here at Doncaster, and his very talented trainer is in great form so could be very interesting on this his first run for 277 days, particularly if the heavens open.

Selection: Bigbadjohn (if abs Out Sam)

E.W.         :  Vicente

Betting Tips Peter Marsh Handicap Chase

betting-tips-peter-marsh-handicap-chasePeter Marsh Handicap Chase 3m Haydock Saturday – What a great race our “alternative” E.W. selection, One For Arthur, ran in last week’s Warwick Classic, winning at the rewarding odds of 14/1 with plenty of petrol left in the tank. Considering how well he handled the Aintree fences in his previous race, this upwardly mobile animal, who seemed to benefit from the use of a tongue tie for the first time last week, has got to be seriously considered for the Grand National itself if getting in. Certainly his trainers post race comment, “He jumps superbly and if going up sufficiently in the handicap could be a Grand National horse this year, and if not definitely will be next year” was most encouraging. In it’s thirty six year history only one horse, the Twiston-Davies trained Earth Summit, has gone on from this Saturday’s Peter Marsh Chase, to Aintree glory, but with the top eight in the handicap, at the time of writing, rated above 148 it’s not impossible that another Aintree hero could be lurking.

Course form is always important at Haydock, and this contest is no exception, with ten of the last fifteen winners, including last year’s victor, Cloudy Too, (Oddsguru’s E.W. selection), having winning form at the track. Wychwood Brook in 2014 was a rare novice to win, but most victors have had  plenty of previous experience, and indeed, a 10yo, an 11yo, and a 12yo have come home in front in three of the last five renewals. Recent runnings have been great for less experienced pilots, with claimers riding five of the last seven winners. Winter ground at Haydock is particularly attritional and a recent outing has been a help. Sue Smith with three previous winners is the most successful trainer and is represented by the 7yo novice Vintage Clouds.

He was a decent hurdler, winning a novice Hurdle over the course, and was also placed in a Grade2 on the track. Switched to the larger obstacles this term, he acquitted himself well in his first two races. He finished second to subsequent winner Briery Belle at Carlisle in November, and eleven days, later put in another promising effort when finishing second to another subsequent winner, Politologue, in a valuable Novices Chase here at Haydock. Slightly disappointing last time over Catterick’s tight circuit, he might well resume his previous progress over Haydock’s more galloping track, and looks nicely treated on a mark 1lb lower than his hurdles rating.

Paul Nicholls has had two contenders placed from only five runners in the last seven renewals, and his dual course winner Virak, catches the eye. He has been disappointing in his two runs this term, but he did show the talent was still there when finishing second off a mark of 157 in a Class1 handicap chase at Aintree last April. A return to form is not unknown in this contest, and with the going and course strongly in Virak’s favour and off a mark 5lbs lower than Aintree, it will come as no great surprise to see the Nicholls CV further enhanced.

The Nigel Twiston-Davies trained 6yo, Bristol De Mai, must be a lovely horse to own. This genuine animal has won four of his ten chases, and come second in the other six. Until his last race he had been campaigned at distances short of three miles, but in the 23 1/2f rehearsal chase, on soft ground at Newcastle, at the end of November, he showed that the distance was within his compass.

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Twiston-Davies’ Bristol De Mai gets the Oddsguru’s nod for Saturday

Giving 8lbs to the winner Otago Trail, and not putting in the most fluent round of jumping, he was headed two out but rallied, and kept on well to finish 3 1/4L in second, with another of Saturday’s opponents, Definitely Red, who went off the 5/4fav, 1 1/4L back in third. As he meets the winner and third on 5lbs and 7lbs better terms respectively on Saturday, he looks well handicapped, and with a Class1 Novices chase on heavy ground over the course to his credit, he has to be seriously considered.

Colin Tizzard is quite bullish about his recent French import, Alary, and it did run a fine race last time when beaten 1/2L by the very talented Milord Thomas, in a Grade1 27 1/2f Auteil chase, on very soft ground. He led over the last and was only collared in the last 100yds by the Jacques Ricou ridden hot favourite. By my reckoning he improved by nearly a stone from his previous race, and if that sort of progress has been maintained since joining the Tizzard Academy, Colin’s confidence could be well placed.

Selection: Bristol De Mai (if abs Alary)

E.W.         : Virak

Betfred Classic Handicap Chase Tips

betfred-classic-handicap-chase-3m5f-warwick-saturdayBetfred Classic Handicap Chase 3m5f Warwick Saturday – When run as The Warwick National up to 2004, plenty of lightweights made it into the winners enclosure, and indeed two runners actually won from out of the handicap in the 1990s. However since it’s relaunch in 2004 as The Classic, with it’s increased prize money, higher rated animals have been to the fore, like the Tizzard trained Hey Big Spender who won with 11st12lbs on his back in2012 and Emma Lavelle’s Shotgun Paddy who carried 11st7lbs three years ago.  Run over 29f, usually on pretty attritional ground, and with those tricky fences down the back straight at Warwick to negotiate, it isn’t a race for the faint hearted. Unsurprisingly, experience counts, with eight of the last nine winners having competed in at least nine chases. The exception was Shotgun Paddy, (running again on Saturday) who also finished third two years ago. A recent run has been important, and all of the last ten winners had been on a racecourse in the previous six weeks. Significantly, at a tight course like Warwick, previous success going left handed has been very important, as has winning form at 3m or further. Alan King with two wins under his belt knows what is required, but out in front of him with three wins, is the master of Ditcheat, Paul Nicholls, and his joint top weight on Saturday, Vivaldi Collonges merits a close look.

An 8yo, Vivaldi Collonges was a dismal failure in last years renewal, trailing in 75L behind  the winner Russe Blanc, but went on to win his next two races in grand style, one of them over the course. He was a poor third on his reappearance ten weeks ago but can be expected to have benefited from the outing. He is very stoutly bred, and indeed is closely related to Paul’s Grand National winner Neptune Collonges, so Saturday’s trip should be right up his street. A year older and more experienced than last year, a much more prominent display is anticipated, and it won’t come as a great surprise if he equals Hey Big Spenders weight carrying performance of five years ago, and brings home the bacon.

Having his first race since June, The Tom Symonds trained 10yo, Kaki De La Pree ran a promising race at Bangor 36 days ago, finishing second to the upwardly mobile Ballyboker Breeze off a mark of 135. As the latter has gone up 10lbs, Kaki De La Pree’s mark of 137 on Saturday looks fairly generous and as this runner from the in form Symonds yard enjoys testing conditions, he can make his presence felt.

The last time we saw a winner of the race from Pond House was over a quarter of a century ago when father, Martin, saddled the 11yo Aquilifer to win in 1991. However, son David may improve the Pipe record on Saturday with his 9yo, Doctor Harper. Sent off the 4/1 fav for the 26f Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival he was never in contention, and unseated at the 2nd last. His next two runs were little better, but showed he had turned the corner 13 days ago at Cheltenham. Racing on his favoured soft ground, over an extended 26f, and staying on strongly, he failed by the minimum distance to reel in the winner Tour de Champs, and had the favourite Arpege D’Alene, 1 3/4L back in third. This was only his 7th race over fences so there could be plenty more to come at staying distances and his new mark of 143 looks well within his compass.

The stoutly bred 9yo, Viva Steve displayed his stamina credentials when staying on strongly over 24f in the Ayrshire mud off a mark of 132 in November and can be competitive off his new mark of 139.

Alan King’s 9yo Sego Success hit the deck at the second fence in last year’s renewal, when racing off a mark of 146, he started the 7/1 fav. He ran quite a promising race last time when keeping on for fourth over an inadequate 24f at Doncaster, and as he is 6lbs lower than last year, has to be of interest. A course winner on his only other Warwick appearance, it would be nice to see his owner, Timmy Leadbetter, a great supporter of the winter game, in the winners enclosure.

Lucinda Russell’s 8yo, One for Arthur looked an out and out stayer when winning easily over 26f at Kelso in October racing off a mark of 127. He confirmed the impression when staying on well over the Grand National fences, (26f Gd-Sft) six weeks ago to get within 3L of the winner off 137. Racing off the same mark on Saturday he’s well worth a second look.

Selection: Vivaldi Collonges

E.W. Doctor Harper (if abs) One For Arthur