L'Ami Serge

Spotlight On The Sky Bet Chase

Steve Mullington
2018-01-25
Fiercely competitive renewal expected at Doncaster on Saturday

Run at Doncaster the Sky Bet Chase (formerly known as the Great Yorkshire Chase) is a Listed Handicap run over 3m.

The 2017 Sky Bet Chase produced a wonderful result when Ziga Boy put in a brilliant front-running display to become the first dual winner of the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster.

Here is a runner-by-runner guide to Saturday’s fourteen contenders:

 

Tenor Nivernais

Venetia Williams’ eleven-year-old is the oldest horse in the field. He was the impressive winner of a Listed handicap chase at Ascot last season. No horse has carried 11st 12lb or more to victory in the Great Yorkshire Chase since Bob Tisdall lumped around 12st 5lb in 1988.

 

L’Ami Serge

Last year's French Champion Hurdle winner has finished the runner-up in both the Coral Hurdle and the Long Walk at Ascot so far this season and will be returning to the bigger obstacles for the first time in over a year. Connections have called upon the services of Davy Russell to bring him home.

 

Flying Angel

Flying Angel, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies was successful in last season's Kingmaker Novices' Chase at Warwick and the Manifesto Novices' Chase at Aintree. The seven-year-old is having his first start in a handicap chase.

 

Label Des Obeaux

Alan King, who has won the last two renewals of this race with Ziga Boy, will be looking to Label Des Obeaux to give him a hat-trick. Based on what he shown on his three runs this season the task appears to be a tall order.

 

Vibrato Valtat

The Emma Lavelle-trained ten-year-old returns to Doncaster after coming within a neck of getting his head in front for the first time since winning the 2015 Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter when he was trained by Paul Nicholls. He clearly enjoys the three miles at Town Moor and must be on any shortlist.

 

Warriors Tale

Paul Nicholls, successful in 2005 and 2009, saddles Warriors Tale. The nine-year-old went down by a neck last time out behind Gold Present at Newbury which is pretty solid form.

 

Wakanda

Sue Smith’s Wakanda has very good form figures at Doncaster and could well bring the trophy back home to Yorkshire. He narrowly went down by a head in the Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at Wetherby on Boxing Day.

 

Long House Hall

Long House Hall makes his belated return to the races, having not been out since July 2016, when he recorded an impressive victory in the Listed Summer Plate Handicap Chase at Market Rasen. He is only 2lbs higher in the weights for that win and could be well handicapped for just his fifth start over fences.

 

Coologue

Coologue has had just the one run this season, when pulling up at Cheltenham in December after losing a shoe somewhere along the way. He came second in this race in 2016 before returning to Doncaster two months later, losing by half a length when sent off the 1/3 favourite. In October 2016 he was the winner of the Randox Handicap Chase over 3m 1f at Cheltenham.

 

Pilgrims Bay

Winner of the BetBright Chase at Kempton last February on a day when the quirky eight-year-old decided he was actually going to knuckle down and go through with it. He was runner-up last time out at Kempton after a spell of three bad runs but he really is a difficult horse to catch right.

 

Mustmeetalady

Mustmeetalady, trained by Jonjo O'Neill, was victorious last time out in a handicap chase over this course and distance. He was a surprise 16/1 winner that day, just getting the better of the 11/1 Vibrato Valtat. Whether the pair of them can progress to take this feature race remains to be seen.

 

Minella On Line

Oliver Sherwood’s bay gelding returns to fences after a couple of spins over hurdles so far this season. The nine-year-old has recorded three career wins, two of which were at Plumpton when ridden by Leighton Aspell. It will be a poignant day for Sherwood if he can land a big race winner twelve months on from the loss of Many Clouds.

 

Thumb Stone Blues

Thumb Stone Blues had a choice of engagements this weekend but trainer Kim Bailey is running the ultra-consistent eight-year-old in Doncaster’s most valuable handicap Chase. The Rooney owned eight-year-old was a novice hurdle winner here last March and has never finished out of the first three since. The gelding gets into this race with a very low weight and his claiming rider, Ciaran Gethings, takes off a further 3lbs.

 

Federici

Federici ran with great promise a couple of races ago when finishing fourth to Blaklion in the Becher Chase at Aintree. The Donald McCain trained nine-year-old was a well backed favourite at Haydock last time out but was comprehensively beaten in what was very deep Haydock ground. It would come as no surprise to see a resurgence in his form given the less demanding conditions and the red-hot form his handler is currently in.

 

Conclusion

A competitive renewal once again with a favourite heading the market that has a tendency not to go through with his effort and invariably finishes the runner-up.

With that at the back of their minds, punters will undoubtedly be looking at some other horses in the handicap and searching out some value.

As was alluded to above, Federici looks well overpriced for a stable that is having no end of winners at the moment.

Wakanda boasts a 25% win strike rate and deserves to win a race of this stature at this racecourse. Sue Smith’s gelding has contested some top handicap chases in the last few seasons and looks the type to be on the premises again.

888sport suggests: Federici & Wakanda (e/w).