The first valuable handicap of the British turf flat racing calendar takes place at Doncaster on Saturday a week after it was rescheduled due to adverse weather conditions.
The field has a different look to it with several horses who were engaged deciding not to take up the engagement on this rescheduled date, however most of the leading contenders are still set to run. Due to World Cup Night in Dubai there are also several jockeys who are now unable to ride in the race including Paul Hanagan, Jamie Spencer, Kieran Fallon and William Buick. Here we look at the main contenders and look at the best betting tips in the race.
Captain Bertie (6/1 with RaceBets)
Current favourite is the Charlie Hills trained Captain Bertie, whose price has hardened over the last week or so due to a combination of growing confidence and a good draw; a better draw than he was originally dealt before the race was cancelled. He ran in the consolation race last year at this meeting and he met a lot of trouble during that race, being hampered badly before finishing off strongly to finish 4th. He gained compensation subsequently when winning At Newbury next time out and generally held his form well for the rest of the season in similar big field handicaps. His best effort came when 2nd in the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket over 7f in testing conditions and the cut in the ground here will suit him well. He races off 9lb higher than his last winning mark but runs well fresh, enjoys soft ground and ought to be bang there. His chance is there for all to see but his price is disappearing all the time.
Lahaag (8/1 WIlliam Hill)
One of the most unexposed horses in the race is the John Gosden trained Lahaag who has had just the 4 career starts. With form figures of 2112 he was progressive as a 3 year old last season and was a little unfortunate not to win on his last start with experience perhaps getting the better of him. Has the potential to improve further this season and there is every reason to expect he can prove better than his current mark of 95. With Paul Hanagan away in Dubai Dane O’Neill had the choice of the two Hamdan Al Maktoum horses and he has decided to ride the other horse Eshtibaak (9/1 Coral, William Hill, Bet 365). There is a feeling that the 5 year old son of Dalakhani has wintered well and although a year older he has just the 5 career starts to date. He is unraced on soft ground which is an unknown and he on the face of it looks to have drawn fairly poorly in stall 20. Having said all that connections are still bullish about him and he stays 10f well which will be advantageous if the ground is testing. Two interesting contenders with scope for plenty of improvement against more exposed rivals.
Chapter Seven (10/1 WIlliam Hill)
With Richard Fahey last year he has been bought by Pearl Bloodstock and this will be his first start for Stuart Williams. He is another who stays 10f and his form ties in closely with Lahaag as he beat that rival at York in October in a very close finish. He finds himself only a 1lb worse off with that rival here and with ground to suit he looks sure to go well. He has a win to his name over this course and distance and if he gets the breaks he needs given his hold up style he will be running on strongly at the finish under Graham Lee.
Strictly Silver (12/1 Betfred)
Of those with a run under their belt already this season this 4 year old looks to hold the best chance. With the weather the way it has been, a recent run could prove to be a big advantage and Strictly Silver was a winner of the Lincoln Trial on the all-weather at Wolverhampton 21 days ago. He has done most of his racing recently on the all-weather so soft ground here is a bit of an unknown for him also but he has some solid turf form to his name, including a shoulder 2nd in a valuable Chester Handicap last season. Looks well treated if he can overcome a high draw and testing ground
Gladys’ Gal (10/1 RaceBets)
The unknown quantity in the race is this Roger Varian trained mare who has just 3 starts to her name, winning twice including when last seen 618 days ago. It would be a brilliant training performance to get her back to win this on her return but the vibes have been positive and clearly after just 3 runs she could easily prove to be well treated. Soft ground is an unknown as is her well-being and whilst she can’t be confidently recommended it wouldn’t be the biggest shock to see her run a big race
Swiftly Done (25/1 RaceBets)
Was stretched by the 9f and the huge field in the Cambridgeshire when last seen but had previously shaped very well in the Betfred Mile at Goodwood before being badly hampered. Testing conditions would be in his favour as shown by his win at Newcastle last season and he has also won over this course and distance when comfortably outpointing Classic Colori. Does need to prove he can compete at this level but looked set to run a huge race at Goodwood that day and with the help of a 7lb claimer he will race off what effectively is a mark of 86; interesting outsider.
Brae Hill (16/1 Boylesports)
Last years winner Brae Hill ended last years campaign with a couple of disappointing efforts but in general held his form well, running well in the Victoria Cup and the Ayr Gold Cup. He races off the same mark as he won off last year and soft ground will be of no inconvenience to him at all. Has run well fresh in this contest in the last 2 seasons and he should run a fair race, bouncing back from some poorer efforts at the end of last season.
The most likely winner looks to be the favourite CAPTAIN BERTIE @ 6/1 (General). He looked unlucky in last years Spring Mile and with the ground in his favour he looks set for a big run. His odds are diminishing all the time but there is no shortage of alternatives in a competitive field. CHAPTER SEVEN @ 10/1 (General) will enjoy these conditions too; stays this trip well so ought to be finishing strongly. At a bigger price a reproduction of his Goodwood run could see SWIFTLY DONE @2 5/1 (General) go well off what looks to be a fair mark, especially with his riders 7lb claim.
*prices accurate on 29th March 2013
Open a new Racebets account and not only can you watch all racing live on their website, but you will get your first deposit doubled up to £100.