Onto Doncaster this afternoon, they have a lot of racing coming up here, with a two day jumps fixture at the end of next week. Plenty of runners to look through today, some nice types in the bumper and some of favourites in the veterans race.
This isn’t a race I want to get involved in too much, with question marks hanging over a lot of the runners towards the head of the market. Won’t personally be having a bet, but one horse who I want to keep an eye on is Mystical Clouds. He’s 12/1 at the time of writing, and has ran in two bumpers so far. His most recent 4th at Lingfield doesn’t look to be too bad, and on top of that he should really be improving for the step up in trip. It’s not a race I am hugely interested in, but Mystical Clouds has shown a bit, probably enough to pick up a small race before the end of the season.
This race revolves around Air Navigator, a horse who will go off a short price, and probably odds on. After three impressive bumper runs, he unseated his rider at the first hurdle on his hurdling debut. He was well backed before that, and is clearly showing something to be put in so short here again today. He’s not for me though at the price, if he is as good as people think then he will win this, but he is one I am happy to let go.
Elsewhere, from the limited form we have, the best on offer looks to come from First Drift. He has ran twice so far this season, both at this course over 2m and 2m4f. His best run was last time out over two miles, and to me it sets a fair standard. If we have anything above average in here then they will beat First Drift, but with a lot of unknown quantities in the race, he is probably worth a small each way punt at 10/1.
This looks to be a tricky puzzle to solve and in the end I have decided to go for two of the outsiders, who have a chance based on a couple of factors.
Ballyben runs here for Ruth Jefferson, a horse that won over fences easily when reappearing this season. He then ran below that at Carlisle, but that was off a much higher mark. He switches to hurdles for this race, which puts him back on the handicap mark which he won off on seasonal debut. He has had a little break over the winter, and looks to be an attractive proposition at a big price in a tricky looking race. At 25/1 he is a small play for me.
The second is Wicked Spice, a horse who returned after a long break to run here last month, where he came 5th. He was clearly not fit enough to do himself justice that day, but there appears to be a race in him, an donl old form he looks to be a well handicapped horse. Today may not be his day, but I’m sure the yard will have been pleased with his reappearance, and he certainly is a horse to keep on the right side of for the rest of this season. At 20/1 I am happy to chance him today.
The feature race of the day today is the veterans chase, and I’m a big fan of these races. As horses grow older they often find it harder to win races, but the veterans series gives them a chance to run against other older horses on a level playing field. I’m really surprised to see Astracad as the outsider in the field, and at this price he has to be worth an each way bet. The trip is going to test him, but if there is anywhere in the country where he can get this trip then Doncaster would be up there. He has shown good form this season to finish 3rd in his past three races, all standard races that were of a decent standard. At the price of 25/1 he has to be worth a punt here, if the race was over half a mile shorter he would be a huge player, but is still worth the risk for me.
Hunter chases are not really my thing, and I don’t really have a grip on them at all. Won’t be having a bet, but will watch to see how Pacha Du Polder runs, as I assume Cheltenham will be his next stop.
It looks like it will be best to concentrate on the top four in the market here, with three previous winners and an interesting newcomer. Both Two For Gold and Hidden Glen won on debut before finishing midfield in a Listed bumper last time out, they should be close at the finish based on that, with preference for Two For Gold. Before Midnight won on debut, although it is hard to see what that form is worth, and he looks to be a strong stayer, so the flat track here may not play to his strengths.
Stop The World is an interesting runer for Tom George, he introduced Black Op around this time last year at Doncaster, so perhaps he wants to send another nice horse up here today. He gets 7lb from all his three main rivals, and if he is any good then he should be able to beat them with that in his favour. Doncaster is a nice track for newcomers, there is nothing for Stop The World to worry about, or any tricky parts of the track for him to face. As a small punt, in the hope that Tom George has sent another good one, I’ll side with Stop The World, who is currently a 7/2 chance.
In the final race on the card, the second bumper, Skidoosh looks to have a great chance of getting back to winning ways. His form in the book looks rock solid from both of his starts to far, and it is going to take a real improver to beat him. His debut run was very nice, and then he ran just as well when appearing in a Cheltenham Listed bumper on his second run. He was only 5th that day, but that was a strong race and a reproduction of those two runs should be enough for him to win this, potentially booking his place in the Cheltenham Festival bumper in the process. At 7/2 he is a very fair price in this one.
2:15 – First Drift (10/1, each way)
2:50 – Ballyben (25/1, each way)
2:50 – Wicked Spice (20/1, each way)
3:20 – Astracad (25/1, each way)
4:30 – Stop The World (7/2, win)
5:00 – Skidoosh (7/2, win)