THE SKYBET Chase, formerly the Great Yorkshire Chase, is always one of the trickiest punting puzzles to solve in the National Hunt calendar and tomorrow’s renewal looks as impossible as ever.
David Pipe saddles SEVEN IS MY NUMBER who currently heads the betting at 7/1 with Boylesports after his bloodless victory in the Grade Two Dipper Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. However, he is pretty short for a still relatively inexperienced chaser who has yet to prove he enjoys the hustle and bustle of a big field. He has run five times in his career in fields of 15 or more runners with form figures of 4, 2, 18, 13 and 4 (compared with five wins from his last five in fields of 10 or less).
Henrietta Knight said earlier in the week that top weight would be no problem for CALGARY BAY and I believe that her seven-year-old may well be the one to beat. Let’s not forget that he was sent off a single-figure price in last year’s Arkle having been touted as the ‘new Best Mate’. He could only finish 10th that day, but two miles at Championship pace was always going to be a mammoth task. Admittedly, he has disappointed since, but he looked back to his best lugging a massive weight to victory over course and distance before Christmas and will take some stopping if in the same form.
I’ll also be having a few quid each-way on the Paul Nicholls’ trained NOZIC at a whopping 25/1 with Boylesports. He’s got plenty of ability and is beginning to look dangerously well handicapped. He has run far better than his eventual finishing positions suggest in two outings so far this term and could surprise a few at a massive price.
It’s Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham tomorrow and even though Paul Nicholls has decided not to run Denman in the Argento Chase, there is still some cracking racing to look forward to. Alan King’s horses have suddenly hit top gear and his KARABAK can land the Cleeve Hurdle at 3.40pm. He has chased home Zaynar and Big Buck’s on his only two starts this season and seems to be improving at a rate of knots.
I’ll also be having a few quid on Charlie Egerton’s WESTLIN’ WINDS in the opener at 12.55pm. He showed a really good attitude when narrowly going down to Triumph Hurdle favourite Mille Chief last time and should go close. It may pay to back him in-running on Betdaq as he will battle and battle even when he looks to be in trouble.
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WESTLIN’ WINDS 12.55pm Cheltenham (Sat)
CALGARY BAY e/w 3.25pm Doncaster (Sat)
NOZIC e/w 3.25pm Doncaster (Sat)
KARABAK 3.40pm Cheltenham (Sat)