In truth, there’s not as much soft and heavy ground form to go on as we’d like within the profiles of these 13 runners, given that the rain appears to have really got into the ground at Doncaster.
Some of them have shown a liking for it however, and all things considered these six appear to be the ones to concentrate on:
Harriet Graham’s Yeats gelding is only six races into his chasing career, so there’s always the possibility of improvement with him.
His standout piece of form was his third to Cyrname in similar conditions in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, while his only win in this sphere was also in deep ground over three miles in a novice race at Newcastle.
The trick is to attempt to decipher whether or not he was effectively ‘dragged’ along by a quality field in the Charlie Hall, or whether he really is that good and if it’s the latter, which is likely given he led that day, then his handicap mark of 151 underestimates him.
It’ll become apparent when you read about Musical Slave below that it is very much prevalent that Canelo carries JP McManus’ first colours in this race.
A Grade 3 handicap winner at Wetherby last time over three miles on soft ground, Alan King’s runner keeps climbing the ladder and so a rise in the weights for his latest success should not be too much of a worry for connections.
He’s a heavy ground winner at Huntingdon too so underfoot conditions aren’t the worry, but easing into a contest to win it which he did last time and scoring in a competitive like this are two different things.
Cap Du Nord
Christian Williams’ entrant is very dangerous off a low racing weight. A ‘veteran’ of 19 chases despite being only 8, Cap Du Nord has been carrying the majority of the punters’ money in the run-up to this event.
His short price seems to have been based on his running second at Kempton last time behind Royale Pagaille, the horse who subsequently demolished his field in the Peter Marsh Chase.
Venetia Williams’ horse however was mightily impressive on both occasions and was clearly ahead of the handicapper, so it doesn’t mean anything in behind is anything special while this chap has gone up several pounds for his troubles.
Colin Tizzard’s gelding is saddled with top weight for this race, but he looks capable of making a very bold claim.
A Silver Cup winner at Ascot on heavy ground from The Conditional, Mister Malarky ticks plenty of boxes as regards trip, ground and class but may just struggle now that he has been raised another 6lbs.
Under the same ownership as Canelo, Musical Slave is a very interesting candidate indeed. Trained by Philip Hobbs, the eight-year-old has only raced 13 times under rules, six times over fences, and is very much on the up.
There don’t appear to be any real doubts regarding the conditions and he’ll definitely stay, so while his recent fifth at Newbury is just OK form, it’s his run just behind Sam’s Adventure the time before which is the standout piece of form.
That was last March, and Brian Ellison’s horse has done plenty to prove how good that race was. After his win at Uttoxeter, Sam’s Adventure destroyed a good Haydock field and was as short as 11/4 to beat Royale Pagaille last time.
Given that his best work was done on heavy ground over this trip, it seems today is ideal for Musical Slave and he is not handicapped to anywhere near his best.
One For The Team
Hard to judge after only three chase starts, most of One For The Team’s best efforts have been on good ground but there is a feeling he can actually improve for the rainy conditions at Doncaster and so he is far from out of this at the weights.
Canelo has to enter calculations and Aye Right looks rock solid to us, but the one who may just be ready to show how much he’s improved since last March in conditions that look perfect is MUSICAL SLAVE.
The form of his second to Sam’s Adventure entitles him to be among the favourites here, he’s had the cobwebs blown away and is still low enough in the weights to be able to take advantage of his mark.