ALAN KING has warned he could switch Sky Bet Chase favourite DINGO DOLLAR to a race at Cheltenham if he deems the ground at Doncaster to be too quick for his market leader.
The seven-year-old has been favourite for the Town Moor feature tomorrow (Saturday) since the entries were published and is as short as 9/4 with Carrigill’s to land the £100,000 pot.
But he also holds an entry in the Spectra Cyber Security Solutions Trophy Handicap Chase at Prestbury Park on the same afternoon where the going is currently good to soft, good in places with four to five millimetres of rain forecast before race day.
King has saddled two of the last three winners of this race and, writing in his Racing Post Weekender column, said: “He needs some rain at Doncaster and I wouldn’t run him if the ground was as it was for the last meeting there. In that case he could switch and run in the 2m5f chase at Cheltenham.
“That may be a little sharp for him, but he needs an outing and that race would give him experience of the course, which would be important as he is a possible for the Ultima Chase at the Festival.”
Second favourite at the time of writing is O O SEVEN, a smart handicapper from Nicky Henderson’s Seven Barrows stable who made a winning return from eight months off (having had a breathing operation) in a five-runner event over C&D last time, staying on to lead near the finish after looking held two out.
He made hard work of that, though, and the percentage call is that he’ll struggle having been raised 5 lb in the weights. But there’s been significant support and Carrigill’s now have him at 6’s after opening at 14-1.
Or will it be another Saturday winner for Paul Nicholls? His most recent win in this race came with Big Fella Thanks in 2009, and he looks to have several likely contenders, headed by last year’s runner-up WARRIORS TALE. He was beaten only a head by Wakanda – from a 6lb lower mark – 12 months ago and proved at least as good as ever when resuming winning ways in the 21f Grand Sefton Chase at Aintree by one and a half lengths from Brandon Hill last time. A subsequent rise in the weights makes life tougher here, though, but the in-form team at Carrigill’s make the 8-1 shot (down from 16’s) their weekend nap.
Arkle Trophy favourite LALOR is the star name among 10 entries for the Grade 2 Napoleons Casino & Restaurant Owlerton Sheffield Lightning Novices’ Chase on the same card.
Kayley Woollacott’s stable star made a sparkling debut over fences at Cheltenham in November, but odds-on backers had their fingers burnt when he could finish only third behind DYNAMITE DOLLARS in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown on his next start.
Despite that reverse, he is a general 5-1 favourite for the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival in March and those odds will likely shorten further if he can get back on the winning trail on Town Moor at 1.30.
It’s Trials Day down at Cheltenham where there should be plenty of pointers for the March Festival, and Mick Channon’s GLEN FORSA can complete a hat-trick in the Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase (1.15), a race his yard won 12 months ago with Mr Whitaker.
BLACK OP is expected to have a big run back over hurdles in the Cleeve (3.35) and the growing partnership between FRODON and Bryony Frost can score again in the Cotswold Chase.
Carrigill’s nap: (money back as a free bet if finishes outside top 4): WARRIORS TALE, Saturday, Doncaster, 3.15.
Augur’s best bet: GLEN FORSA, Saturday, Cheltenham, 1.15.