The two-day Sky Bet Chase meeting is the highlight of Doncaster’s jump season, with last year’s game acting as a stepping stone to stardom for Champion Chase favorite Shishkin.
Takingrisks provided trainer Nicky Richards with a thrilling win in Sky Bet Chase last year, a hard-fought victory in a dramatic renewal of the feature competition.
This year’s card seems like a cracker and here are four horses to watch on Town Moor on Saturday.
Jay Jay Reilly (12.25)
Dan Skelton’s Jay Jay Rielly received an opening handicap rating of 118, and there’s a feeling that may well underestimate his ability.
He comes here after the defeat as a favorite at Taunton, but this third looks a lot better in hindsight, given he was trying to give a 7-pound penalty to two subsequent winners.
He’s a half-brother to Raya Star, who was knocking on the door in year one, and he’ll probably enjoy this leg of the journey.
The stable have a 23% strike rate in the handicap obstacles at Doncaster over the past five seasons and it looks like Jay Jay Reilly could add to that tally.
Third time lucky (1.35)
Shishkin won the Grade Two Lightning Novices’ Chase in 2021 in emphatic style before winning the Arkle six weeks later and that’s exactly what Dan and Harry Skelton’s Third Time Lucki is trying to do 12 months later.
The race looks like the perfect opportunity to get Cheltenham back on track after losing to Edwardstone last time out at Sandown.
Third Time Lucki is as short as 12/1 for the Arkle and that price will be significantly reduced if we see a more controlled release on Town Moor.
He showed real exuberance on the fences in his first two starts of the season at Cheltenham, but it was too over the top at Sandown and relationships certainly learned from that effort.
A more polished and professional performance at Doncaster would see him reduced to single-digit prices for Cheltenham in March.
Paul Nicholls is well known for his success as a long-term target trainer and there is a feeling around Miranda that the plan may well be to return for Grade Two Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle almost immediately, given that she won the race 12 months ago.
Lady Buttons has gone to this event consecutively taking the spoils in 2019 and 2020 and Miranda looks set to do double that as well.
The Nicholls mare opened her account this season finishing second to a second-year winner, then scored at Ludlow, a race she also won in 2021.
This victory was not easy as she was reluctant at the start and gave up more than 15 lengths to the rest of the field.
North Cape (3.20)
Today’s big race sees a host of well-known hunters line up for the three-mile run, including a handful of horses who also tried their luck last year.
Cap Du Nord of Christian Williams finished third in this race 12 months ago when he was kicked out of the 4/1 favorite and it looks like he was targeted again in this race.
Last we saw him at Kempton, he disappointed under an inexperienced conditional who mounted him with more prominent tactics than he was used to and it didn’t seem to suit him.
The previous time he had trained well in Wincanton and showed that day that he retained many of his old abilities.
He is lower in the handicap than 12 months ago and will benefit from a good ground which suits him perfectly in this kind of course.