Doncaster Race Preview, 06/03/2021

Doncaster, Saturday March 6th

Doncaster 3.30
Virgin Bet Grimthorpe Handicap Chase Class 2
3m2f1y – Going: Good – 7 runners

This race deserves a double-figure field and it never seems to get one. Canelo** was getting the worst of the argument in the Sky Bet Chase when making mistakes at the last two while Takingrisks and Aye Right fought out the finish, and – conveniently dropped a lb – the Rowland Meyrick-winner will find this easier, particularly as most of the rest aren’t coming here on top of their game. Chef D’Oeuvre* fits that category, having been beaten 45 lengths over hurdles at Haydock behind Potters Hedger last time – if he hadn’t run in that, and come here after his good 2nd to Nearly Perfect at Wetherby earlier in December, the 2019 Haydock National Trial-3rd would have been coming here ‘in form’. The winner of this in 2019 Chidswell has had a mixed season – a good staying-on 3rd to Some Chaos at Kelso in October, a below-form 6th at this track in December – and after traipsing round Market Rasen over hurdles last time 26 lengths behind On The Blind Side, I’m not sure where we are with him. It wouldn’t have been hard for Red Infantry to improve on his ‘effort’ in the Classic Chase at Warwick on his reappearance, but he was still lagging his best in a veterans’ chase here last time – he showed to what extent he was going to get involved starting the last circuit, pushed along after the 7th, and finishing 6th to all-the-way winner Beau Bay. Just A Sting is well off the map after an unseat, two pulled-ups and a weak-finishing 8th to Ecco in a jumpers’ bumper at Kempton last time and the ungenuine (that’s being kind) Beware The Bear got his first reminder after the 6th when tailed off behind Mister Malarky at Ascot just before Christmas. That leaves Special Prep, and if you go back two years he posted form which would have entitled him to run well in something like this, going clear from the second last to beat Ascot De Bruyere at Newcastle in March 2019; however he last raced over fences in April 2019, was well held over hurdles at Perth in September on his only start over any obstacles since and hasn’t made much impact in jumpers’ bumpers – so you’re left with Canelo because you haven’t got anything else.

Selection: CANELO – Alternative: Chef D’Oeuvre

Doncaster 4.05
Virgin Bet Free Bets For Winners Handicap Hurdle Class 2 0-145
3m84y – Going: Good – 8 runners

Best form to date when, trained by Olly Murphy at the time, winning handicap hurdle at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day 2020,  spent most of the race off the bit and struggling, ridden along after 2 out and appeared to be struggling, looked held in 7 lengths 9th home turn, put under pressure and stayed on very strongly approaching last, led jumping, driven out, stayed on well to beat Rapper – at every stage of the race he was going nowhere, then going to the last he came to life. No success since, over fences the last two, at Ayr on November 30th when last seen out mistake 2nd, a bit slow 5th, slow 13th and niggled along, pushed along and couldn’t go with leaders approaching 4 out, well held under a ride 2 out, kept on from last and took 3rd final strides, well held behind Hear No Evil. Stable debut for Jamie Snowden here, and the yard’s record with stable debutants over the last three years is five wins from 27 runs (18.5% strike rate), so perhaps not a forlorn hope despite his poor record over the last year and a steep hurdles-mark of 138
When with Willie Mullins won a bumper and a novice hurdle, and tailed off in the Martin Pipe C/Js Hurdle at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival, niggled along going downhill to 2 out, came back on the bit immediately after it, disputed lead, niggled along approaching home turn, quickly put under pressure, weakened turning in; joined Paul Nicholls ahead of this season and was 3rd then 4th in two chases, placed behind Sevarano at Sandown the first time, arguably moved best home turn to 2 out, hard ridden and no impression before mistake last, lost ground on 1st 2 and was being closed on by the 4th last 100 yards – looked the most likely winner and didn’t win. Checked out with four to jump behind KIller Clown at Kempton on Boxing Day and left Nicholls for Rebecca Menzies, and best of two runs in jumpers’ bumpers for new yard at Newcastle on February 8th, led 5 1/2 f out, moved comfortably in front approaching home turn, niggled along 3f out, soon more firmly pushed along, led a length 2f out, hard driven, headed entering last furlong, faded, 3rd to Plan Of Escape beaten 5 lengths. Given his history of finding little being in front so far from home was the worst thing that could have happened. Unproven at this trip and best watched
Best of three chase runs this season when 2nd to Magic Of Light – for the second time, having also chased her home over hurdles at Ascot in January 2020 – at Newbury in December, chased winner throughout, mistakes, ridden and outpaced from 3 out, well held last. After finishing tailed off behind Annie Mc at Doncaster just after Christmas, was switched to hurdles and again below her best behind Molly Ollys Wishes in Listed mares’ event at Warwick last month, started to lose place 4 out, hard ridden home turn, lost further ground approaching 2 out, mistake, well back between last 2, hopeless in 4th when eased last 100 yards. Well treated on last season’s form but hasn’t fired this term, and pedigree says she shouldn’t stay – her record over the trip is 252, admittedly behind Magic Of Light on both 2nds, but on the runner-up finish over hurdles she was being closed on by the 3rd, and the 5th-place was a 53-length beating behind Frodon at Cheltenham in October 2020
As I See It
Only form this season when chasing home Captain Drake in handicap hurdle at Uttoxeter in October, moved best approaching 3 out, led there, niggled along and was closed on approaching 2 out, headed, ridden along hands and heels only, kept on approaching last, drew upsides run-in, put under pressure, no extra last 150 yards, looked as though he had little left close home. Failed to run to best behind Storm Arising at Lingfield in November, vigorously pushed along approaching 9th, dropped away on the uphill run after 3 out, tailed off when pulled up straight, and didn’t really contribute in jumpers’ bumper won by Ecco at Kempton last time, midfield firmly pushed along 3f out, no extra 2f out, ridden and weakened inside final furlong, still losing ground at the line. Not sure what to expect but the expected better going is likely to be a help
Blowing hot and cold this season; second good effort this campaign – following good runner-up finish to Collooney at Fontwell in October – when 3rd to The Cob at Haydock in December, prominent 6th, niggled along after 4 out, niggled and dropped midfield to rear home turn, pushed along and made ground 3 out, stayed on and every chance under a ride 2 out, hung in behind rival between last 2, hard ridden from last, kept on one pace last 200 yards, along with the 2nd Oscars Leader closed on winner last 100 yards. Stepped up to 3m, wasn’t having it from a long way out behind Potters Hedger at Haydock in January, blundered 3rd,  niggled along starting final circuit, in close to 7th, pushed along before mistake 9th, hard driven and outpaced home turn, ridden and weakened approaching 3 out, well tailed off 2 out. He’s a half-brother to Royal Village and Village Vic and they are/were best at trips around 2m5f, and lack of stamina seemed an issue at Haydock. Tends to make mistakes
De Forgotten One
Made all over fences at Catterick on January 3rd,  3 lengths up 2 out, pushed along between last 2, stayed on in front, 5 lengths up last, pushed out, continued to stay on well and went further clear, slowed up markedly run-in but was in no danger – straightforward, jumped soundly and found the necessary, but did seem fairly empty at the end when beating Out On The Tear 13 lengths. At Ascot last time over 3m on January 23rd again tried to take it out from the front but this time it didn’t work, niggled along from 4 out, hard ridden home turn, put under pressure and headed approaching 2 out, started to weaken nearing it and weakened more markedly between last 2, looked heavy-legged as dropped away approaching last, beaten 25 lengths into 5th behind Enqarde. Was 3rd in a cross-country chase at Cheltenham in November – nearest finish after a hold-up ride – but hard to know how reliable that form is and his record over 2m7f or further coming in to this is 5P35
Small Present*
On his ninth start (two bumpers, seven hurdles), got his first win when taking a 0-125 handicap at Catterick on February 5th, tracked leaders approaching 3rd, moved comfortably when ridden into 3 out, niggled along approaching turn out of back straight, pushed along approaching 2 out, mistake, hard ridden, led narrowly between last 2 under pressure, a neck up last, found extra last 150 yards, 1st 2 pulled clear, challenged by rallying runner-up last 100 yards, held on well by a head from Big Penny. Steps up in grade, but it’s fair to say there have been stronger 0-145s than this
Some Chaos*
As has become usual for this admittedly-useful chaser, rather blundered his way round on his way to a  good 5th to El Presente in Badger Ales at Wincanton in November when last seen, at most 3 lengths off leaders when mistake 17th, quickly made up lost ground and niggled along approaching 4 out, hard ridden approaching home turn, outpaced approaching 3 out, mistake and left disputing 2nd, kept on till mistake 2 out, pushed along and faded approaching last, hard driven and faded run-in, was closing on the weakening 4th last strides.  He’s a maiden over hurdles coming in to this, with arguably his best hurdles run at Bangor in August 2020, went well till hard ridden from 2 out, one pace from approaching last when chasing Cool Destination home. On his first try in a handicap over hurdles, he’s extremely well treated

Shortlist: Small Present, Some Chaos