Lucky Leo can star at Donny

LAST weekend’s meeting at Doncaster was frozen off, so let’s hope the weather doesn’t disrupt tomorrow’s action. KALAHARI KING, runner-up in last season’s Arkle Chase, carries top weight in the feature contest, the
Blue Square Handicap Chase. Ferdy Murphy’s stable star heads the field of 15 in the £70,000 contest and will take some stopping if reappearing in the same form as last term.

His trainer has been quoted in the press this week saying that the nine-year-old may well need the run, but it’s difficult to imagine him not going close with his stable in good form. I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t finish in the front three and he looks decent each-way value at around 10/1. He has only ever been out of the frame once in his 14 career starts and that was when he finished fourth in Captain Cee Bee’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

The one worry would be if the forecast rain arrives, but I’m not sure he’ll run if the ground turns soft. For that reason, the one to beat may well be in-form David Pipe’s LEO’S LUCKY STAR. He bolted up on ground that was supposedly too soft at Warwick on New Year’s Eve and looks dangerously well handicapped. I’m sure connections are eyeing up a tilt at the Grand Annual at the Cheltenham Festival and this looks the obvious stepping stone. He looks cracking value at around the 8/1 mark on Betdaq.

Both the Nicholls pair have to be respected, but hold no secrets from the handicapper. Free World has been beaten on all of his last six starts at 8/13, 4/5 (twice), 7/4 and 15/8, so is becoming somewhat of a ‘bookies’ horse. I’d prefer to side with last year’s winner I’msingingtheblues, but he doesn’t look that well treated.
Earlier on in the afternoon, don’t miss Alan King’s IOLITH in the opener if he doesn’t get balloted out. He’s held in real high regard at home and could even develop into a Supreme Novices’ Hurdle contender.

Over at Sandown, it may well pay to follow Nicky Henderson and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he had a four or five-timer. His best chances look to be ACCORDING in the 1.30pm and BINOCULAR in the 2.05pm. The former was trained by Freddie Head in France last season and there has been a big gamble on him for the
Triumph Hurdle all week. He has a huge reputation and I wouldn’t put anyone off taking the 10/1 about him making it two Triumphs in a row for Henderson.

Binocular has been slightly disappointing this season but he has improved with every run and should have far too much for his rivals tomorrow.

IOLITH 12.50pm Doncaster, tomorrow
ACCORDING 1.30pm Sandown, tomorrow
BINOCULAR 2.05pm Sandown, tomorrow
KALAHARI KING 3.25pm Doncaster, tomorrow
LEO’S LUCKY STAR 3.25pm Doncaster, tomorrow

I’m getting a little bit fed up with apprentice jockeys modeling themselves on Jamie Spencer. There seems to be a growing trend for them to sit out the back of a race waiting for the final furlong to make their move. Unfortunately very few seem to have woken up to the fact that you can only do this if there has been enough pace to the entire race enabling a hold-up-performer to make a challenge. I have witnessed dozens of rides recently where an apprentice has been well behind the field in a crawl only to see all chance disappear in a matter of strides as the field has sprinted off round the final bend.

I can’t get excited with the jumps this weekend as I’m still waiting for the declarations so my attention has turned to Lingfield once again. Jim Boyle has had plenty of success for owner M Khan X2. Last year M Khan X2 was second in the all-weather championship with 15 winners and £110,926 in prize money. This season hasn’t been as prolific but they have a great chance with WOTASHIRTFULL in the 3.35pm tomorrow. This son of Namid is two from two over this course and distance and is receiving weight from his rivals.