NOVICE CHASER ROCKY’S TREASURE can defy top weight and land a knockout blow against the opposition in Doncaster’s valuable Grimthorpe Chase.
With just six runs over fences, Kim Bailey’s eight-year-old enters the ring tomorrow (Saturday) with the least experience but carries top weight after winning four of those races since being sent over fences for the first time last October.
He loves Doncaster – and the quicker the better – as he showed by rattling home by 17 lengths over Town Moor in a Grade 2 novice in December. His flop last time when he ran third to OK Corral as a warm 6/5 jolly can be put down to not liking Warwick but it’s his other defeat by four lengths at the hands of Santini in a Grade 2 chase at Newbury that would receive a massive boost should that horse, the 3-1 favourite for the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, go on to win the ‘novices’ Gold Cup’ in two weeks’ time.
He goes against Alan King’s DINGO DOLLARS but it’s one of the Bunbury handler’s other weekend entries VALDEZ that catches the eye. Abandonments and the bout of equine flu have robbed him of several chances but his time can come in the Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury tomorrow (Saturday 2.40) and he’s easy to back each way at 16s with Carrigill’s.
I have flagged up COUNTISTER before and will be sticking with her in the following race at 3.10. Nicky Henderson has always thought the world of this mare, who has been denied an appearance this season after the Betfair Hurdle was postponed.
A penalty for winning tomorrow (Saturday) would boost her chances of making the cut for a handicap at the Festival, and after a sun-baked week the quicker conditions should suit.
Paul Nicholls can warm up for Cheltenham with a brace north of the border at Kelso with BLACK CORTON (2.45), who has finished second in three of his last four starts, and follow that straight up with GETAWAY TRUMP (3.15). Successful at Plumpton and Exeter he chased home the smart Champ in the Chellow and it could be worth marking his card all the way to the Festival where he’s quoted at 14/1 for the Coral Cup and 16/1 if he opts for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
At Lingfield (3.20) Jean-Rene Auvrey’s filly FIRST LINK can defy a rise in class despite the fact that she could be forced to race out of the handicap proper. She’s been mightily impressive here on her last two starts and has been fortunate to escape with a 5lb rise after her latest easy win.
In the Listed Spring Cup at 3.50 FANAAR makes his first public appearance on the polytrack but the recently gelded son of Dark Angel was a useful juvenile on the turf, and the William Haggas yard is reportedly well forward for the start of the Flat season.