Friday, January 29, 2021

Case notes: Doncaster's Sky Bet Handicap Chase 2021

With the Cheltenham Trials adjourned sine die (on the grounds the course is waterlogged, m'lud), the evidence for tomorrow's listed Sky Bet Handicap Chase (3.15 Doncaster) is presented for due consideration.

Stop wittering, PG, and get on with it!

Sorry, m'lud.

A baker's dozen declared, with the going currently described as soft. At the time of writing there appears a significant divide between the top five in the market (priced between 11/4 and 8/1) and the remainder, priced at 16/1 or bigger. 

Royale Pagaille beat Cap Du Nord three and a quarter lengths at Kempton the day after Boxing Day. Last week Royale Pagaille blew away his field in the Peter Marsh at Haydock and trainer Christian Williams will be hoping his charge can put up a similar kind of performance tomorrow. 

In future Cap Du Nord will race from a mark three pounds higher while Jack Tudor can claim three but to my mind the favourite looks short enough for one that has never won beyond two miles six and a half; stable form is a cause for some concern as well.

I have seen One For The Team well touted during the week but with just three chase starts to his name Nick Williams' charge is short on experience. 

J P McManus' two runners, Canelo and Musical Slave, merit consideration. 

Conceding 19 pounds, the former was beaten beaten four and a quarter lengths by Cap Du Nord at Newbury in November (Rocky's Treasure ninth); on these revised terms Alan King's charge is weighted to reverse the form. There's no doubt the fitting of cheekpieces has been the making of Canelo; he won the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby on Boxing Day off a mark of 142 and this represents his toughest assignment to date.

Musical Slave is relatively unexposed - witness his form behind Caribean Boy and Sam's Adventure last season - and he has been well backed through the day. His jumping on seasonal debut at Newbury in November looked a little rusty; back in the autumn Tom Segal put up Philip Hobbs' charge as one to follow this season [Weekender 21-25.10.20]:

"Steadily progressive over fences last season and plenty more to come from him at staying trips. A slow jump three out might have cost him victory in a competitive race at Uttoxeter on his last start [behind Sam's Adventure]..."

Aye Right, a creditable fifth behind Champ in the RSA Chase last season, has shown smart form this term behind Cyrname and Vinndication in the Charlie Hall and behind Cloth Cap in the Labrokes Handicap Chase at Newbury. Harriet Graham has given her stable star a break before a prep run over an inadequate trip in a 'jumpers' bumper' on the all-weather at Newcastle 10 days ago.

Rocky's Treasure bounced back to form over course and distance last time, holding Give Me A Copper half a length on the line with Boldmere, outpaced from three out, fourth. 

For me, Rocky's Treasure is a tad inconsistent while Boldmere was a big disappointment, finding little off the bridle. On Racing Post ratings, Caroline Bailey's charge, a previous course and distance winner, is there with every chance and looks overpriced at 16/1 but it's difficult to feel confident he could trouble the judge; Sean Bowen replaces Paddy Brennan in the plate. 

I note Give Me A Copper is part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson and, as chance would have it, tomorrow evening, 5.30pm kick-off, Manchester United visit Arsenal, supported by Sir Anthony McCoy and several other well-known racing owners and personalities. I wonder if Ed Chamberlin will reference this fact during ITV's racing coverage...  

The jury's out on top weight Mister Malarky who won at Ascot just before Christmas but wouldn't be guaranteed, beyond reasonable doubt anyway, to reproduce a similar effort tomorrow; Colin Tizzard indicated to reporters earlier in the week the current poor form of his runners was due to a bug in the yard.

On his second run for Sandy Thomson, and wearing a tongue-tie for the first time, Yorkhill won Newcastle's listed Rehearsal Chase at odds of 66/1 (Takingrisks, beaten just six and a half lengths, fourth; The Butcher Said, beaten just under 15 lengths, sixth). 

The handicapper raised the winner five, dropped the fourth one and left The Butcher Said alone. Underfoot conditions will certainly help Takingrisks while in a recent Stable Tour Olly Murphy indicated The Butcher Said had done well to finish so close to Yorkhill, having 'made a Horlicks of the fifth from home'. The handler thinks a mark of 139 'fair'  but I just wonder whether The Butcher Said needs better ground.

And I'm sure Ryan Day will be hoping to get a tune out of Takingrisks' stablemate Guitar Pete but this one has never won beyond two miles five.

The evidence to hand indicates the last horse older than 10 to come home in front was Major Bell in 1999. 

In summation a highly competitive renewal. Takingrisks may be the veteran in the field but 40/1 with Paddy Power (five places) is a big price. 

I'm taken with the form of Aye Right though; Harriet Graham's charge has his share of weight but likes to race prominently which should serve him well here. 

Aye Right is the each-way suggestion, currently an 8/1 shot with Sky Bet and William Hill, both of whom are paying five places.  


Anonymous said...

Sky Bet Handicap Chase

RTG,Horse,WC%,Timeform,TW v TF
178,ONE FOR THE TEAM(GB),44.7,166,12
172,GIVE ME A COPPER(IRE),16.1,163,9
173,AYE RIGHT(IRE),15.9,166,7
172,MUSICAL SLAVE(IRE),7.4,168,4
168,MISTER MALARKY(GB),0.4,163,5
168,ROCKY'S TREASURE(IRE),0.4,161,7
166,THE BUTCHER SAID(IRE),0.4,163,3
168,CAP DU NORD(FR),0.4,169,-1
168,GUITAR PETE(IRE),0.4,166,2

Most of the rain looks set to miss Doncaster so hopefully the ground will not get too testing.

I’ve added two columns to the ratings this week, the Timeform rating [free from ATR for this race] and the difference between the TF rating and the system rating.

Aye Right comes out quite well on the system and should hopefully run a big race.

I wanted to go with Give Me A Copper, classy and lightly raced 20/1 looks big … but the system is worried that the yard’ form has dipped noticeably of late. A month ago 50%+ of the yard’ runners ran to form or better, in the last 14 days this has tailed off to under 25%.

5 places, 1/5 odds in a 13 runner race is a big concession and given the System has doubts about the favourite this is a race I’d like to play in. I’ll not get rich but 1PT EW One For The Team at 5/1 1/5 odds 5 places is the bet.

Good luck.


GeeDee said...

Thanks for your ratings and analysis, TW.

Interesting comparisons with TF ratings and your comments about the form of the Nicholls yard.

The weights favour Miranda in the mares' race (2.05) but I'm not tempted to play now.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Smashing effort from Aye Right.......well done.


GeeDee said...


A decent effort from selection Aye Right (8/1) who raced prominently with top weight Mister Malarkey (25/1) over the first couple of miles. Colin Tizzard's charge 'ballooned' a couple of obstacles along the way and, following a mistake at the tenth, slowly started to go backwards.

Coming off the home turn the selection scooted into a clear lead with Cap Du Nord (4/1f) a live threat and outsider Takingrisks (40/1) staying on. In an eventful race to the line Aye Right's jock Callum Bewley dropped his whip three out while Cap Du Nord's chance of winning went with a blunder at the penultimate flight.

Aye Right jumped the final fence in the lead but stout stayer Takingrisks was just getting up a head of steam and, even though Sean Quinlan appeared to drop a rein on the run-in, the partnership maintained their momentum to collar the leader in the final 100 yards and win by one and a quarter lengths with Cap Du Nord a further two and a half lengths away in third. Canelo (15/2) came home fourth with TW's each way pick One For The Team (5/1) finishing fifth.

To conclude, a quote from Aye Right's trainer Harriet Graham:

"I thought for a minute he might just hold on but he probably needs another two furlongs, he's an out-and-out stayer.

"Callum dropped his whip and he's upset but that's racing and there will be a big one in him."