Some of our major betting handicaps can turn out not to be as keenly fought out as we’d hoped.
Before we get the benefit of seeing how the Sky Bet Chase works out however, it looks like a supremely competitive event.
There are 17 about to line up over three miles of the Doncaster track, so many of them are closely matched at the weights and enough runners are used to two-and-a-half miles to make us think that the pace will be strong, making this a real test.
Here are the six we take against the field:
Carrying the colours of Trevor Hemmings, being trained by Venetia Williams and being ridden by Charlie Deutsch is a hell of a combo at a glance. Let’s not forget also that Cloudy Glen won the Ladbrokes Trophy as recently as November.
He stopped quickly in the Rowland Meyrick and if that was because of the soft ground, we can take it that we’re looking at an improved performance this weekend.
There has been some strong support for Nicky Henderson’s runner this week. A Grade 1 winner over hurdles, plenty has been expected of him for a long time meaning that for some, he’s been a little disappointing.
Fusil Raffles (luckily) won the Charlie Hall Chase earlier in the season, while we mustn’t forget that he is only seven and is having just his tenth career chase start here so he could reach a new career high yet.
Paul Nicholls could hold a strong hand in this race, with Grand Sancy a leading player under Bryony Frost. He’s a good horse, there’s little doubt about that, but he’s not a certain stayer over three miles and last won eight starts ago.
There are plenty of negatives, but if he does stay then strictly on the numbers he has as good a chance as many others in the field.
Sandy Thomson’s runner is on the list partly by being overpriced. He looks decent each-way value if that’s you thing, despite pulling up last time.
Before that, Hill Sixteen battled out the finish of the Becher Chase with Snow Leopardess at Aintree, only just failing. Assuming he can get going a little quicker on this better ground, then he shouldn’t be anything like a 20/1 shot in such a close race.
There are two ways to assess Hurricane Harvey’s form and therefore his chance for trainer Fergal O’Brien and therein lies the confusion we had with him.
On the one hand; from his chase debut in October 2020 to as recently as November when he was third in the Badger Beer, he has been consistent and has improved several pounds.
On the other; the handicapper has seen fit to reduce him from a mark of 144 in February 2021 to just 132 here without winning, suggesting that he has been regressing if anything.
It seems to us that his rating of 144 wasn’t deserved at the time and that he’s done nothing wrong, so he may finally have been given the chance to run off a mark he can handle and he might just go close.
Paul Nicholls’ other big chance comes in the shape of Kapcorse, ridden by Lorcan Williams for JP McManus. The nine-year-old has had his problems, resulting in him having had only five chase runs to date.
Already a three-time winner but having had a year off, Kapcorse was a very taking scorer at Newbury in November when landing a race over two-and-three-quarter miles at Newbury by 5½ lengths.
It looks as though this trip will be ideal for him. He’s gone up 8lbs for winning at Newbury, but he’s only just getting started and has had plenty of time off, so we can be sure he’s much better than his old mark and potentially a fair bit better than his new one too.
Fusil Raffles of course remains of interested, as does Grand Sancy. Assuming he’s in the right form, Hurricane Harvey could now be well handicapped and is a clear second choice at a nice price.
Worth backing however is KAPCORSE. He may be fragile, but we know he goes well fresh and isn’t done improving yet.