WHILE most eyes will be on Cheltenham, there is still some intriguing action up at Doncaster on Saturday.
Undoubtedly one of the fairest tracks in the country, and famous for producing decent ground, 18 are set to line-up for the £80,000 Sky Bet Chase (3.30pm).
Last year’s first and second, Ziga Boy and Coologue, are back for more and, while a case can be made for both, I’m siding with SOUTHFIELD ROYALE at 8/1.
Neil Mulholland’s seven-year-old made an excellent start to his chasing career last season, winning a couple of times before a second in the Feltham, and a fourth in the four-miler at Cheltenham.
The form of the latter has been franked numerous times thanks to the exploits of Native River, Vicente and Vieux Lion Rouge.
I wouldn’t read too much into my selection’s disappointing effort at Punchestown in April, as he may well have been over the top.
Although a prep run would have been preferable, he has a good record fresh and Mulholland is a top trainer who gets his horses very fit at home.
The yard is in flying form – four of their last seven runners have won – and this looks to have been the plan for some time.
Bigbadjohn, who finished second to Thistlecrack last time, is the biggest danger, but has been well found in the market.
I have to mention Saturday night’s $12million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park (10.40pm).
This is the richest horse race in the world and looks a match between CALIFORNIA CHROME and Arrogate.
I’m siding with Calfornia Chrome, despite his draw in 12, to enact revenge on his Breeders’ Cup Classic conqueror.
He’s had a prep run and will appreciate the step back to nine furlongs. Take the 11/8 with Star Sports.
Southfield Royal e/w 3.30pm Doncaster
California Chrome 10.40pm Gulfstream Park