The two-and-a-half-mile Old Roan Chase hasn’t attracted a large field this year, but it is still a very competitive handicap event.
With only eight horses left in this year’s renewal, it’s worth giving all of them a mention rather than coming up with a shortlist:
Dan Skelton’s nine-year-old in theory should have lots more to offer. However, despite his age and the fact he has had just 16 career starts in total, his form has always been pretty consistent without ever looking progressive and so he’s probably just not the best handicapped horse in the race.
Captain Tom Cat
Crucially, Dr Richard Newland’s runner is race fit having run second in a hurdles race recently. Also important is the fact that he ran right up to scratch, perhaps even above it, compared to his old form over the smaller obstacles.
Over fences he likes to the lead the way where possible and was sent off just 6/1 for a Cheltenham Grade 2 last November, falling when trying to get back into contention. He’s definitely dangerous under Sam Twiston-Davies.
Do Your Job
Do Your Job has been off for 204 days but is still on a hat-trick having landed a handicap at Newcastle and, very impressively, a Grade 2 race at Ayr during the Scottish Grand National meeting.
His fall last December at Sandown represents the only time he’s been out of the places in six chase starts to date, though in fairness he has always run in small fields.
This is a better level of opposition and while he’s more than capable of showing up well, further improvement is now required.
Jamie Snowden’s six-year-old has been off for fully 20 months and there’s little doubt he will get better after this weekend.
That said, he has been given a big chance by the handicapper considering he quickly reached a mark of 150, but it put in here off 142.
Hitman represents high-profile owners, is trained by Paul Nicholls and will be ridden by Harry Cobden so to a degree it’s no shock that there’s some hype around this runner.
He does have strong form to back up his position as favourite though. An improving six-year-old, Hitman has won twice and when last seen over fences he was chasing home Fakir D’Oudairies in the Grade 1 Melling Chase at the Grand National meeting.
He’s classy and is in with a shout here, but off top weight he’ll need to put in a big performance first time up for the season.
Being a tad bit older than much of the field and with form figures of UU21-5, we’d expect that Millers Bank will have his detractors.
When unseating he was 3/1 for the Grade 2 Berkshire and 4/1 for the Dipper, while since then he’s finished second to Pic D’Orhy in a Grade 2 and won the Grade 1 Manifesto here in the spring by an easy 10 lengths.
He likes it here, that much we know, and he’s very classy. He has a lovely mix of experience and potential over fences, so while others may improve past him in the months to come, right now he is very dangerous off a mark of 153 which does not accurately represent his ability.
Riders Onthe Storm
A grand nine-year-old who in theory shouldn’t be passed it, and it would be terrific to see him run well, but based on what we know he’s regressive and cannot be backed to suddenly come back to form unless we find out some new information.
Soldier Of Destiny
Jamie Snowden’s other runner Soldier Of Destiny was fairly impressive when last seen, making all to win a novices’ handicap chase at Haydock back in March. He did pull hard there however which would not work well for him in this race.
A number of these have shown a liking for going forward in the past. Captain Tom Cat wants to lead, Ga Law can do the same and Soldier Of Destiny pulled hard to make all when last seen earlier in the year.
That’s not to say these horses can’t do it a different way however there is the distinct possibility that, on a deceptive course that takes much more getting than some may realise, they may set it up for a closer.
While Do Your Job and especially Hitman are therefore feared, the one we like best of all is Alex Hales’ MILLERS BANK who is already a big winner at this track and can do the business once again under Kielan Woods.