Good to soft ground at Doncaster for todays meeting and the Irish soft ground point winner City Chief cost the Donnellys’ – owners of the mighty Shiskin who may or may not run at Ascot later in the month – £210,000 back in May.
He made his British debut when runner up at Ascot last month when he was denied a run going to two out. He would have gone very close without that interference. He has been put in a shade of odds on and looked a real stayer on his British debut. Note the runner up in his Irish point – Knowsley Road – finished second at Exeter at New Year on his British debut for Paul Nicholls.
Wonderwall (1.05) finished seventh in the Champion Bumper and may well have made a winning hurdling debut at Newbury but for blundering at the last. The winner was well beaten at Cheltenham and the fourth ran to a similar level of form at Chepstow last week so the form in nothing special, but I do think Wonderwall will win races over timber this year. The selection is 7/4 with William Hill.
There is a terrific limited handicap chase and Sam Barton has been given a chance by the handicapper having been dropped 9lbs for two, admittedly, poor runs so far this season over the larger obstacles. He is fitted with cheekpieces this afternoon and had had his wind tweaked since his last start. The 9s with Bet365 did not last long and he is 6s with William Hill at the time of posting.
The each way vote, however, goes to Beakstown (1.40) who ran a strange race in the Racing Post Gold Cup at Cheltenham last time when he was held up in the rear in a race where it was a big advantage to be ridden prominently. He did make his ground up well going to two out but fell in a hole in the last quarter of a mile.
The Dan Skelton trained chaser is now rated 9lbs lower over fences than he was over timber. He needs decent ground to be seen at his very best but there should be no excuses if conditions are as described with a dry day forecast in south Yorkshire. The 4/`1 available looks about right.
Quick Draw ran a terrific race at Catterick over hurdles last time and is 6lbs better off over fences, but he has yet to really convince over the larger obstacles and I think the 3m 2f handicap chase can go to the bottom weight Bretney (2.50) who looked a thorough stayer when scoring at Uttoxeter last time over slightly shorter. The selection is bred to stay at least this trip – related to 4m winner Captain Cattistock – and an 8lbs rise for Uttoxeter looks fair. The 4s available on Monday afternoon is about right.
Kissesforkatie ran out a fluent winner at Exeter at New Year and she is back to try and defy a 7lbs rise just ten days on. She is the one to beat and has always threatened to be a decent hurdler, but I thought Georges Saint (1.20) looked to be crying out for a step back up in trip when third at Haydock over Christmas over 2m on his British debut.
The Venetia Williams’ trained grey was a dual chase winner in his native France and jumped and travelled well last time. He receives 12lbs from Kissesforkatie and I think the 1-2 at Haydock are well above average. Indeed I would be very sweet on the chance of the winner Jungle Jack if he were to put his unbeaten record on the line from a mark of 123 in the near future.