Friday, January 27, 2023

The 2023 Sky Bet Handicap Chase at Doncaster

Cheltenham passed an inspection at midday today but undergoes a further check at 7.30 tomorrow morning. 

With frost covers in place and an overnight temperature forecast of -2C, hopes are high the Trials Day card will go ahead; the mooted contingency plan to race on Sunday is no longer considered necessary.

There are no such weather worries at Doncaster where the going is described as good.

Twelve have been declared for the Sky Bet Handicap Chase which is due off at 3.15. The last two winners, Takingrisks and Windsor Avenue, were both returned at odds of 40/1 - and were both ridden by Sean Quinlan.

Ga Law heads the market and the weights for this year's renewal after beating French Dynamite and Midnight River in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham 11 weeks ago. The runner-up that day finished second behind Fakir D'Oudairies at Thurles on Sunday while the third won Cheltenham's New Year's Day Handicap Chase from Stolen Silver.

Jamie Snowden's charge met plenty of trouble in running at Cheltenham yet powered up the hill to suggest this first attempt at three miles should be within his compass; since 2000 only two winners have carried more than 11-10 to victory: Calgary Bay (11-11) in 2012 and Ok Coral (11-12) in 2020.

Tea For Free has won all four chase starts to date and is likely to race prominently with Lilly Pinchin up but this represents a notable step up in class for Charlie Longsdon's charge; the last five winners have all been aged nine or older.

Last February Cap Du Nord beat stablemate Kitty's Light in the Coral Trophy Handicap Chase at Kempton off a mark of 127. 

The handicapper is doing his bit to help the cause as Cap Du Nord goes off 125 tomorrow but Christian Williams' charge has been out of form this term - he finished last of 11 behind Rapper four weeks ago (Java Point second) and before that fifth behind Zanza at Newbury (Demachine second, Java Point third). 

Mister Coffey has run well but has yet to win over the larger obstacles and and his general profile suggests he may prefer more cut underfoot.

Perhaps Cloth Cap isn't the force of old but he ran well for a long way at the head of affairs in the Becher Chase last time out; his chance is not dismissed. 

Undersupervision was pulled up behind Grumpy Charley at Newbury last month (Shanty Alley second) but finished fourth behind Le Milos at Sandown last February and then won the Grimthorpe over three and a quarter miles at this track in March, going by Mister Malarky after jumping the last. The ground rode soft that day and the suspicion is he just might be better suited by a stiffer test of stamina.

I was a tad disappointed with Cooper's Cross at Musselburgh on New Year's Day - in receipt of 17 pounds he could never threaten Minella Drama. He's a point winner over this trip and connections fit cheekpieces for the first time. 

Both Shanty Alley and Elvis Mail have shown their best form with more cut underfoot.

Last year Windsor Avenue won this off 144 (Cap Du Nord third, Demachine tenth). 

Over the years Brian Ellison's charge hasn't always been the most consistent but on his penultimate start he was beaten six and a quarter lengths into fourth behind L'Homme Presse, Into Overdrive and Happygolucky in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle. 

That form reads very well and, if in the same mood tomorrow, he would have every chance off 142; I'd imagine Sean Quinlan will try to race prominently as he did last year.

Demachine was sent off 5/1 for last year's renewal yet trailed in some 87 lengths behind the winner. He was third coming to four out before weakening, with connections subsequently reporting their charge had made a respiratory noise. 

After undergoing wind surgery he won the Sir Stanley and Lady Clarke Challenge Trophy at Uttoxeter, run over two and a half miles in May. 

On his next start in November Kerry Lee's charge had no answer to Newbury specialist Zanza - beaten 12 lengths into second with Java Point one and a quarter lengths further adrift in third. 

On New Year's Day at Cheltenham Java Point finished second behind Rapper over a trip of three miles two and a half furlongs while Demachine was perhaps a little disappointing when seventh behind Midnight River over two miles four and a half furlongs.

Demachine has been dropped two pounds for that effort and, on a strict interpretation of the run behind Zanza at Newbury, is weighted to confirm placings with Java Point; in addition Caoilin Quinn, who excelled on Botox Has at Haydock in November, can claim five.

I wasn't convinced Demachine stayed three miles until his second behind Remastered in the 2021 Reynoldstown at Ascot. A fine effort, yet I still harbour a suspicion his optimum distance is probably two and threequarter miles.

Several in this field prefer to race prominently; there is likely to be plenty of pace up front. 

With the benefit of wind surgery, Caoilin Quinn's five pound claim and decent ground to boot, Demachine is the each-way suggestion, 12/1 generally with most layers paying one fifth the odds four places.


TW said...


2,160,GA LAW(FR)

Only 4lbs between the field on the system’ ratings, so a competitive affair.

The systems idea of the winner is Tea For Free, rates him a 4/1 shot, so I’ve snapped up the 6/1 4 plcs 1/5 odds at BET365. Charlie Longsdon’s yard has been in great form this year and after a couple of weeks without a runner turned out a 1st, two 2nds and two 4ths from the 5 runners on Friday to confirm all it is still in robust health. Ga Law will probably stay 3 miles but this race will find him out if he does not. The system quite likes Demachine and only raised one question mark...the jockey! I don’t doubt Caolin’s ability but his confidence might not be a 100% as you need to go back to 7th Dec for his last win.

Sean Quinlan down at Cheltenham riding Sounds Russian in a nice renewal of the Cotswold Chase and I agree with Simon Rowlands that he is priced bigger than he should be and it’s more open than the market suggests.

Good Luck!


GeeDee said...

Thanks for providing your ratings, TW.

Novice hurdles - along with every other type of race to be honest - have caused me plenty of pain in the past but I thought Mofasa (3.35 Cheltenham) certainly worth a second look at 20/1.

Bombed out last time but has winning course form and on hurdle debut beat Colonel Harry (fourth in admittedly weak renewal of the Tolworth) seven lengths.

Significant negative: has to concede weight to all bar Henri The Second.

TW said...

Cheltenham gets the go-ahead and Mister Coffey a significant non-runner in the Sky Bet Handicap Chase.

Ballymore Novices' Hurdle

11,114,WAY OUT(IRE)

The system chalked Mofasa up as a 7/1 shot so plenty of value in the 20/1. I’m always happy to forgive a horse one poor performance, the Stewards noted the following post his flop at Newcastle:

"The performance of MOFASA which started favourite and finished last of four runners beaten 29 ¼ lengths, was considered. The Stewards noted that Michael Scudamore could offer no explanation for the gelding’s performance. The Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination during routine testing of MOFASA failed to reveal any abnormalities other than the gelding had lost its left-hind shoe."

The Wounded Knee , beaten by Mofasa, might provide some useful collateral form when he runs in the 14:40 at Doncaster.

With a number of layers paying 4 plcs I can see the temptation but on balance I’ll sit it out.


TW said...

Hope you had an EW interest in Mofasa, ran well.

Sky Bet Chase an eventful affair!

Ahoy Senor most heartening winner of the day, there is a God.


GeeDee said...


Given my previous record with novice hurdles, The Wounded Knee's effort at Doncaster and the fact that, with the exception of Henri The Second, Mofasa had to concede three pounds to his field, I decided not to play...

No prisoners taken in the Sky Bet Chase.

Ahoy Senor now generally 12/1 (from 50) for the Gold Cup. Thought Sounds Russian would have gone close without the error four out; he's generally 20/1 for the Gold Cup now, 25/1 in places.

GeeDee said...

An eventful renewal of the Sky Bet Chase with eight of the 11 runners scrummaging for the lead from the off.

On settling down Tea For Free (3/1jf) established his authority up front with Cloth Cap (10/1), Windsor Avenue (28/1) and selection Demachine (13/2) in close attendance. Elvis Mail (28/1) in rear was taken off his feet in the early stages.

As they raced into the home straight for the final time Cooper's Cross (16/1) made eye-catching headway to take over from Tea For Free three from home - Lilly Pinchin's mount then took a crashing fall at the penultimate flight.

Ga Law (3/1jf) had made one significant error on the way round but coming to the last he was in with every chance when he came to grief.

Cooper's Cross stayed on well to hold Cap Du Nord (17/2) a length with Elvis Mail staying on from the rear to claim third while Windsor Avenue fared best of those who had raced with the pace in fourth.

Demachine was close enough four from home but the petrol gauge hit empty soon afterwards - running on fumes in he final stages he came home fifth, beaten 16 lengths.