David Ord hopes a frustrating chaser can finally enjoy his day in the sun at Doncaster on Saturday – check out a horse-by-horse guide to the 2019 Sky Bet Chase.
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MINELLA ROCCO: Very smart at his best, chasing home Sizing John in the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup. Not close to that form in a four-race campaign last term but still only beaten nine lengths when fourth in the Grade One Leopardstown Christmas Chase. Returns here following summer wind surgery and on a mark of 155 which would look attractive if the old spark is still there. A fascinating contender.
Minella Rocco – back after wind surgery
WARRIORS TALE: Went desperately close to winning this last season only to be cut down by Wakanda. Back to winning ways in Grand Sefton at Aintree last time but up six pounds for that and needs a career-best to win this from 153.
ART MAURESQUE: Ground conditions will be ideal and takes a drop in class after contesting the Peterborough Chase last time but no more than feasibly handicapped, hasn’t won since October 2016 and his best form is at shorter trips.
O O SEVEN: Stayed on strongly to reel-in Go Conquer at the track last time and the choice of champion trainer Nicky Henderson from his original entries. However, he’s struggled with handicap marks north of 150 in the past and he’s back there after a five-pound hike for the last win.
GO CONQUER: Ran well at Ascot and here on two starts for his new trainer but was overhauled by a stronger stayer in O O Seven here last time having looked in control at the second last. That’s happened before and for all he’ll give a good sight for much of the contest, the suspicion is something will be there to run him down after the last.
Go Conquer – second here on last start
DINGO DOLLAR: Excellent third in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury last month and heads here from the same mark. He’s already won at this track and ticks nearly all the boxes with the only two concerns being an alternative entry at Cheltenham on the same afternoon and – more pertinently – prices of around 2/1. Alan King won’t run him if it gets any quicker than good but he’s clearly the one to beat if turning up.
Dingo Dollar jumping at Ascot
SINGLEFARMPAYMENT: Let’s be kind and call him frustrating, but Tom George’s nine-year-old has put together a string of creditable efforts in competitive handicaps such as this – it’s just his failure to land one that causes the irritation. Still he ran at least as well as ever when touched off by Cogry at Cheltenham last time and the return to a flat three miles here looks the right move for the strong-traveller. He isn’t the most resolute in a finish, clearly, but with lots of pace in the race it could just be set up for him and he shouldn’t be 12/1.
Singlefarmpayment – race could fall his way
WILLIE BOY: Impressive in winning at Wetherby on Boxing Day but was found a good opportunity by connections there. Has fallen the last twice his sights have been raised, in the Brown Advisory & Marriebelle Stable Plate in March and this season’s BetVictor Gold Cup, plus this is his first try at three miles. Has to prove he stays for all he arrives here in good heart.
CALIPTO: Back to winning ways at Wincanton last time but that was a seven-runner affair and his tendency to make mistakes is always a worry in a race as competitive as this. Another to hold an entry at Cheltenham.
BRIAN BORANHA: Impressive at Sedgefield last time though that race fell apart for him (leader taking the wrong course). Will bounce off the ground but is now up to 139 in a much better race and it isn’t difficult to look elsewhere.
FAVORITO BUCK’S: Third and final entry for Paul Nicholls and landed valuable pot at Ascot in November. Not in that form returned there the following month but the ground was much more testing and this week’s forecast is favourable for him. His best form is when dominating from the front though and that won’t be easy with plenty of others who like to go forward.
Favorito Buck’s on his way to winning at Ascot
MONBEG RIVER: Impressive 16-length winner here last season and encouraging return when second at Ayr in November, making a mistake at the last before finishing second to Forest Des Aigles. Not out of this and one of the livelier outsiders.
ON TOUR: Got going too late when a creditable third to Houblon Des Obeaux in Unibet Veterans’ Chase at Sandown and the worry here is it will all be happening too quick for him back down seven furlongs on a livelier surface.
FEDERICI: Another front-runner who ran well for a long way when fifth to Walk In the Mill in the Becher Chase at Aintree on return. More needed here though and likely to find it all too much.
A race full of front-runners with favourite Dingo Dollar among them. Clearly he’s the one to beat from the same mark as at Newbury but looks too short already. It will be fascinating to see what the market makes of Minella Rocco this week but the bet is SINGLEFARMPAYMENT each-way at 12/1.
He wouldn’t win many awards for bravery but is a good staying handicap chaser who comes into the race off the back of a very solid run at Cheltenham.
It might just be set up for him with so much pace up front and he can hit the frame. Monbeg River is another who could go well at longer odds.
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