A belter of a race at Doncaster tomorrow with both our original fancies Hold On Julio and Shakalakaboomboom declared for the Skybet Chase (2.50pm).
Both have excellent chances and at a whopping 8-1, Nicky Henderson’s Shakalaka has to be the value nap under Barry Geraghty.
First and foremost, the fact that Geraghty heads to Donny and not to Cheltenham where Henderson is sure to have some hot fancies surely speaks volumes.
Shakalakaboomboom must be seriously well-fancied and it’s easy to see why with the eight-year-old on a roll having won his last two races in style.
The latest of those successes came at Cheltenham last month and while the margin was only three-and-a-half lengths to the smart Knockara Beau, Geraghty always looked to have matters under control.
It also looked a decent race with the highly-thought of Mon Parrain back in third and in short a 4lbs rise looks very lenient for a horse progressing at a rate of knots.
Three miles on good to soft ground also looks ideal for this animal and it is easy to see why Henderson opted to wait for this race and swerve last weekend’s slog in the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock.
Racing off a nice weight off 1st 4lbs tomorrow, the positives are endless for the sound-jumping and game Shakalakaboomboom who looks a big price at 8-1 with SkyBet, bet 365 and Coral.
Heading the market at around 7-2 is Alan King’s Hold On Julio who has won his last four and could still be well ahead of the handicapper despite going up 11lbs for a facile win at Sandown last time.
We’re on him already in our Horses For Courses column at 9-2 but the doubt with him is that his jumping leaves a little to be desired.
Geraghty and Henderson will also be expected to strike with the very talented Sprinter Sacre at Donny (1.50pm) with the same combo’s Lifestyle also the one to beat at 2.40pm. No wonder Baz G is heading to Town Moor.
Not that it’s anything but top class action at Cheltenham where Captain Chris is fancied to land the Argento Chase at around the 3-1 mark (2.35pm).
With Grands Grus swerving the race, the betting is now dominated by Captain Chris and Diamond Harry and both approach the race having run similar races last time in being stuffed by Kauto Star.
However, firstly there is no disgrace in that and secondly the form of Captain Chris’ effort looks extremely strong with the horse behind him that day – Somersby – going on to win last weekend’s VC Chase and beating Finnian’s Rainbow.
The two that beat the Captain last time – Kauto and Long Run – are absolutely top-drawer animals and in a race that features a lack of one, the way is clear for the Captain to collect.
Always the apple of his trainer’s eye, he rates a decent next best tomorrow while there appears to be three decent betting opportunities on the all-weather at Lingfield in Trip Switch (12.50pm), Hey Fiddle Fiddle (2.30pm) and Southern Star (4.05pm).
Trip Switch bolted up over course and distance the other week and an 8lbs rise probably won’t stop him while well-bred Hey Fiddle Fiddle will probably end up some way better than her mark of 63.
Mark Johnston’s Middelham inmate Southern State, meanwhile, ran a blinder on debut when second to Alfred Hutchinson and this costly purchase should go one better at the second time of asking.
A cracking day’s racing – let’s hope it’s a winning one.