Searching for the unexposed sort to take Doncaster’s Sky Bet Chase

More often than not in handicaps it pays to find the horse with the best form in the book and simply get behind them, but other times it requires a bit more foresight.

The Sky Bet Chase is one of those contests with potential often more important than what is already confined to history.

At Doncaster it pays to do some digging to find an improver in the field for their three-mile Listed handicap judging by previous runnings.

Three stats stand out when looking back over the years:

  •  – None of the last 10 winners (just one of the last 13) had won more than three times over fences
  •  – Only three winners since the mid-1960s have been aged 10-plus
  •  – Of the last 12 winners, 11 had previously won over at least three miles

So all-in-all what is a required is an unexposed horse, with more years racing ahead than behind them, who has proven form over the trip.

Just four of the current entrants meet those criteria…

Ziga Boy – 7/1

Alan King’s charge is an infrequent winner having triumphed once in 2015, 2014 and 2013, but the manner of his success last December suggests there could be more to come.

He was an eased down winner over 2013 Scottish Grand National winner Godsmejudge over the Sky Bet Chase course and distance but faces a 15lb rise in the weights for that success.

He had it all his own way that day so it will be interesting to see if he is able to dominate this Listed contest, and if he isn’t how well he copes.

There are points to prove, but with the Alan King stable taking the Paddy Power Gold Cup and the Hennessy this season, another big handicap success isn’t out of the question with the antepost favourite at his disposal.

Ziga Boy (c) was an easy winner last time out

Ziga Boy (c) was an easy winner last time out

Le Reve – 16/1

If this race was at Sandown you’d expect Lucy Wadham’s charge to be a much shorter price with figures of 35P2113 at the Esher venue.

However, while this race will be his first visit to Doncaster, he must be respected.

Off marks equal to and higher than the 146 he is set to run off the eight-year-old has placed in both the Betbright Chase and the Bet365 Gold Cup.

Testing ground could be key to bringing his stamina into play, having taken in contests of three miles or further in all of his last 11 chase starts.

If the rain falls as expected he should run a big race, though he vulnerable to something slightly less exposed.

Staying chases on soft ground are Le Reve's bread and butter

Staying chases on soft ground are Le Reve’s bread and butter

Doing Fine – 16/1

You can probably ignore the most recent run of Rebecca Curtis’ charge who made a couple of serious mistakes to blow any chance of landing the Listed Badger Ales Trophy.

Prior to that race the seven-year-old had finished third behind Drop Out Joe who actually took the spoils in that contest at Wincanton.

Back in fifth was Sego Success who has since finished second in the Classic Chase, giving the form of the contest a massive boost.

Doing Fine has a very in-and-out profile but when on song looks a very talented prospect and is more than capable of defying his current mark but does need to show some more consistency.

Doing Fine (r) beat subsequent Grade 2 winner Carraig Mor over hurdles

Doing Fine (r) beat subsequent Grade 2 winner Carraig Mor over hurdles

Audacious Plan – 20/1

Another one to forgive his most recent run, even without taking into account the poor stable form at the start of the season is another Curtis’ inmate.

A terrible round of jumping gave him no chance at Cheltenham’s Open Meeting before he was pulled up, so he’lll need to take to his fences better in this competitive contest.

He’s only won twice under rules but has put some smart performances up in defeat including when fourth at Cheltenham in October and a second in a staying chase at the Punchestown Festival.

He was runner-up in a race that fell apart at this meeting last year running admirably, and could be capable of outrunning his odds and going one better in 2016.

Rebecca Curtis' stable are starting to recover from a slow start

Rebecca Curtis’ stable are starting to recover from a slow start

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.