The Sky Bet Chase, run over three miles at Doncaster, has attracted a 15-strong field headed by last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup fourth Holywell (3.15pm Saturday live on CH4 TV).
Trainer Jonjo O’Neill (pictured) saddles nine-year-old Holywell (8/1), who drops back into handicap company after running without distinction in the Charlie Hall Chase and the Betfair Chase. The drying ground should suit him better than the testing conditions he has encountered so far this season, but he remains 14lb higher in the weights than when winning at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival and must concede 6lb and upwards to his rivals.
Favourite, at the time of writing, is Le Mercurey (6/1), trained by Paul Nicholls. The Nickname gelding won fair and square on his chasing debut at Plumpton in November, but was a fortunate winner at Ascot on his penultimate start, when left in the lead at the last, and could finish only third of seven, beaten 23 lengths, in a Grade 2 novices’ chase at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. He has his stamina to prove over an extra three furlongs and seems short enough in the Sky Bet Chase betting on what he has achieved so far.
Buywise (8/1) continues to frustrate, having run well without winning in the Old Roan Chase, the Paddy Power Gold Cup and the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup so far this season. Evan Williams’ nine-year-old has yet to win beyond 2m7f so, while he’s been dropped 1lb in the weights, the step up to three miles may not necessarily bring about any improvement in his form.
Aachen (14/1) has been enjoying a new lease of life at the age of 12, winning twice and only going down by a neck to Soll in a veterans’ chase at Sandown four weeks ago. However, a further 5lb rise in the weights for the latter performance means that he is 26lb higher than at the start of the season and, having produced his best form with plenty of cut in the ground, he may be set to struggle this time.
Coologue (12/1) has been beaten on all three starts beyond 2m4½f, including once in the point-to-point sphere, and lacks experience over regulation fences. He was beaten off a 4lb lower mark in a Class 3 novices’ limited handicap chase over 2m3f on Town Moor in November and appears exposed as lacking the class required to be seriously considered for win purposes.
Trainer Warren Greatrex offers up Dolatulo (12/1). The nine-year-old is another exposed type, but arguably ran as well as he ever has, off his current mark when third of 17, beaten 3 lengths, behind Highland Lodge over 3m2f at Aintree eight weeks ago. He is entitled to improve for that run, his first since April and, given that he has won on good, good to soft and soft going, he should run his race whatever the weather in South Yorkshire.
Upwardly-mobile Ziga Boy (7/1) is fairly short in the betting having hacked up by seven lengths on his seasonal debut over course and distance a month ago. He was heavily eased and so can not be dismissed lightly. His official mark has been raised a whopping 15lb for that victory, and you can make it 16lb considering he should be racing off a pound less than the minimum 10st weight that he carries. With jockey Tom Cannon on board for trainer Alan King, you would expect a very big run from Ziga Boy but the handicapper could hardly have been more punitive.
SkyBet Chase Betting Tips Verdict
The Sky Bet Chase is as competitive as ever, but our betting tips advice is to back DOLATULO each-way at a best price of 12/1 with SkyBet Bookmaker. While other bookies may be going 1/4 odds the first 4 (rather than three) places by raceday, only the sponsors offer that extended place term concession currently. Natural improvement should see Dolatulo there or thereabouts and he looks a decent bet for the places at the very least.