Cap Du Nord seeking to book National ticket with Sky Bet success

Christian Williams is hoping Cap Du Nord can put himself in the picture for the Randox Health Grand National with a big run in the Sky Bet Handicap Chase at Doncaster on Saturday.

All eyes will be on Cap Du Nord, after 18 horses stood their ground at the the five-day confirmation stage, following Royale Pagaille’s impressive victory in the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock at the weekend.

The eight-year-old was only beaten three and a quarter lengths by Royale Pagaille at Kempton over Christmas, and Williams is pleased the form of that race has worked out so well.

“It was nice to see Royale Pagaille do what he did on Saturday,” he said.

“The third (Double Shuffle) has won since and the seventh, The Kings Writ, ran very well to finish second in the Somerset National. It’s great.

“We’ll see what the handicapper does (on Tuesday), but it won’t affect Saturday’s race at all. The weights are already out.

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“We’re looking forward to Saturday and we’re thinking he could be really suited to the Grand National.

“We’ll try to sneak into that race if we can. He’s rated 139 today (Monday). He might go up again for Royale Pagaille winning. You want to be on the 144 mark maybe to get into the Grand National. It would be great to get him in.”

Canelo, winner of the Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at Wetherby and runner-up to Cap Du Nord at Newbury in Newbury, could bid to give trainer Alan King a third success in the Sky Bet.

Others in the mix include Ladbrokes Trophy runner-up Aye Right for Harriet Graham, Colin Tizzard’s Ascot Silver Cup scorer Mister Malarky and the Sandy Thomson-trained Yorkhill, who bounced back to form with a 66-1 success in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle.

Kim Bailey’s dual course and distance winner Rocky’s Treasure and Paul Nicholls’ Give Me A Copper are among other possibles, while the weights are headed by Brian Ellison’s stable stalwart Definitly Red.

The star attraction on the card is set to be the Nicky Henderson-trained Shishkin, who tops 12 entries for the Lightning Novices’ Chase.

Shishkin could bid to maintain his unbeaten record over fences in the Lightning Novices' Chase
Shishkin could bid to maintain his unbeaten record over fences in the Lightning Novices’ Chase (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle victor has won both his starts over fences in tremendous style and is already odds-on for the Arkle Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival.

The Jennie Candlish-trained Cheddleton, Phil Kirby’s Whoshotthesheriff and the Nicholls duo of Fast Buck and Tamaroc Du Mathan are among the potential opposition.

Henderson has Newbury winner Floressa and Marie’s Rock in the Grade Two Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle, for which there are 11 entries.

Henderson could send Emir Sacree for the other Grade Two on the card, the Albert Bartlett River Don Novices’ Hurdle.

The French import made a winning debut for the Seven Barrows trainer at Ascot last month on his first start for 635 days.

There are several promising types among the 14 entries, including the Dan Skelton-trained Ashtown Lad, Bobhopeornohope from the Bailey stable, and Nicholls’ Flash Collonges.

Doncaster pencilled in as next step for Shishkin

Shishkin is set to continue his education over fences in the Lightning Novices’ Chase at Doncaster next weekend.

Nicky Henderson is favouring the Grade Two contest over an extended two miles as the next race for the exciting seven-year-old ahead of the Cheltenham Festival.

Last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner has made a superb start to his chasing career with two facile victories at Kempton, and is already odds-on at around 8-11 for the Sporting Life Arkle Trophy.

Henderson is also thinking of taking Floressa and Marie’s Rock to Town Moor for the Grade Two Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle, while Santini is likely to be the yard’s main runner at the Cheltenham Festival Trials meeting the same day.

The nine-year-old will bid for back-to-back victories in the Cotswold Chase, which he won in 2020 before finishing second in the Gold Cup.

“We’re unlikely to have too many runners at Cheltenham next week. Santini would be the obvious one and I think I’m swinging towards Doncaster’s Lightning Novices’ Chase for Shishkin, while Floressa and Marie’s Rock could contest the Mares’ Hurdle up there,” the Seven Barrows trainer told Unibet.

Champ is one of Henderson’s leading Gold Cup entries and last year’s RSA Chase winner is on course to make his seasonal debut in the Denman Chase at Newbury on February 13.

“Champ went away in the week for a serious piece of work and jumping session and was very good so the intention remains the Denman Chase at Newbury next month,” Henderson added.

Seeyouatmidnight ‘pencilled in’ for Midlands National

Connections of Seeyouatmidnight are considering the Midlands Grand National for the ever-popular 13-year-old following his victory at Sandown.

Seeyouatmidnight’s career has been littered with injury problems – but he showed he retains plenty of ability when taking the spoils in the final of the 2020 Veterans’ Chase Series at the Esher track earlier this month.

“He’s grand. We’ve half got the Midlands National pencilled in,” said Thomson.

“Sandown was great for everybody – great for racing and great for us. These are the stories we need because we’ve got this opportunity to captivate a new audience and get more people involved. That’s brilliant.”

Another old favourite, Yorkhill, was among a team of five horses Berwickshire handler Thomson took to work at Newcastle racecourse on Thursday.

The 11-year-old, who sprang a 66-1 shock in the Rehearsal Chase at the Gosforth Park track in November, galloped on the all-weather surface with Elf De Re and Duc De Grissay, who should have run in the North Yorkshire Grand National had Catterick not succumbed to the wintry weather.

The Ferry Master and Coolkill were also put through their paces.

“It was grand. There was no snow between here and Newcastle really,” said the trainer.

Yorkhill and The Ferry Master hold entries in the Sky Bet Handicap Chase at Doncaster on January 30.

“The Sky Bet is more likely for Yorkhill than The Ferry Master,” said Thomson.

Stratagem too good for Doncaster rivals

Stratagem followed in his half-brother Ziga Boy’s hoofprints when getting off the mark over fences in highly-promising style at Doncaster.

Ziga Boy loved the Town Moor track, winning three times from four starts, including their winter feature, the Sky Bet Handicap Chase, in 2016 and 2017.

That race may well be a target in the future for Stratagem after the Paul Nicholls-trained grey made it third time lucky over the bigger obstacles in the Sky Bet Beginners’ Chase.

The five-year-old had shaped well on his chasing debut when a close second at Warwick, but he blotted his copybook when unseating Harry Cobden at the first fence at Plumpton.

He made amends in tremendous fashion as he put his two rivals to the sword. Relishing the step up to two and a half miles with a competent round of jumping, Stratagem (5-4 favourite) came home five lengths clear of Ballymoy with Minella Trump 34 lengths away last of the three.

“That was good. I don’t know what happened at Plumpton. He just lost his concentration or something for, as you could see today, he’s a good jumper,” said Nicholls’ assistant, Harry Derham.

“The two and a half miles suited him well and he’s a lovely young horse for the future.

“This horse had some nice hurdles form, but chasing was always going to be his game. I would imagine there’ll be plenty more to come. He’s a young horse with not many miles on the clock.

“I’ve no doubt that eventually he’ll be a smart three-mile chaser.”

Ben Case enjoyed a 100 per cent strike rate with The Golden Rebel and Shanty Alley giving the Edgcote trainer a 126-1 double.

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The Golden Rebel ran his rivals ragged in the Sky Bet Extra Place Races Every Day Maiden Hurdle.

The seven-year-old was making his debut under rules for Case, but put his experience in the point-to-pointing field to good use.

Amateur rider Jack Andrews able to dictate affairs from the start of the two-mile-five-furlong event and was never troubled as The Golden Rebel (33-1) struck by 29 lengths from Valsheda.

“That was very nice. He’s only been with me a couple of weeks,” said Case.

“I think they’ll be a few horses like him who can’t go pointing. Julie Wadland sent him to me and said he was quite a nice horse.

“I thought he’d run well, but I was surprised to see him win like that.

“I don’t know a huge amount about the horse, but he looked very straightforward and obviously he’s had a bit of experience.”

Front-runners held sway during the afternoon and Shanty Alley (11-4 favourite) showed the way in the Play ITV7 Tonight Novices’ Handicap Chase.

The seven-year-old backed up his 26-length romp at Uttoxeter last month with another dominant display.

The three-and-a-quarter-mile trip was no problem as he crossed the line 12 lengths ahead of Big Nasty under 3lb claimer Bryan Carver.

Case said: “He had a fall at Southwell last year and it probably did him the world of good. He would have won but he fell three out going well. He’s learnt what to do now and we have learned how to ride him as well.

“He did it well last time and again today. He’s an improving horse and he’s only seven.

“He stays well and is a proper staying chaser. The handicapper will probably put him up a few more pounds, but I won’t run him under a penalty.”

Solwara One (11-2) looked a bright prospect when making a winning debut over jumps in the Sky Bet Britain’s Most Popular Online Bookmaker Novices’ Hurdle.

Leading between the final two flights, Neil Mulholland’s seven-year-old went on to score by five and a half lengths from long-time leader L’Incorrigible under James Best.

“That was the first time I’ve sat on that lad – he looks a really nice animal,” said Best.

Uisce Ur (12-1) put up a game display when she made virtually all the running over the extended three miles in the Sky Bet Request A Bet Training Series Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.

Luca Morgan had the Ben Pauling-trained nine-year-old in the van throughout and the mare found extra in the closing stages when strongly challenged by Calarules to score by three-quarters of a length.

“It was the right race for her. She stays all day. She got to the front and she set good fractions and kept finding all the way up the straight,” said Pauling.

Morgan had mixed fortunes, being banned for seven days for using his whip above the permitted level on third-placed Ange Endormi in the concluding bumper won by the Nicky Henderson-trained newcomer Wiseguy (10-11 favourite) in the hands of Nico de Boinville.

Alison Johnson, the rider of Luduamf, who finished 11th of 18 in the conditional jockeys’ event, was banned for 10 days for failing to obtain the best possible placing.

Lily Of Leysbourne (12-1) overcame a 767-day absence to win the Sky Bet Best Odds Guaranteed Mares’ Handicap Hurdle.

The Fergal O’Brien-trained mare, ridden by Paddy Brennan, collared the pace-setting Hawthorn Cottage to win by seven and a half lengths.

Hawthorn Cottage was disqualified from second place as her rider, Lucky K Barry, failed to weigh in. Barry was banned for seven days.

Jeremy Scott outlines possible plans for Dashel Drasher

Jeremy Scott is mulling over the options in the next few weeks for Dashel Drasher following his victory at Ascot last month.

The eight-year-old beat Itchy Feet and Caribean Boy when outsider of three in a graduation chase, for which he has been put up 9lb.

Scott is considering the bet365 Handicap Chase back at Ascot on January 23 and the Sky Bet Handicap Chase at Doncaster a week later, as well as the Denman Chase at Newbury on February 13.

“He’s grand. We’re just slightly stuck for options where to run,” said the Somerset trainer.

“There isn’t too much obvious. There’s a handicap back at Ascot over the same trip or we could run in the Denman. You wouldn’t have many runners in that.

“He’s in a funny position. He’s been put up 9lb. You wouldn’t on the face of it say he was well-handicapped. He hasn’t run in a handicap, so we’re in a slightly difficult position at the minute.

“The Sky Bet would certainly be an option. You’d be upping him up to three miles, which on a flat track you’d hope he’d get.

“We had to put the entry in as there are only three or four options between now and the beginning of February. It’s just a case of keeping the options open.”

Harriet Graham looking towards Doncaster with Aye Right

Aye Right is likely to have his next outing in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster on January 30.

Harriet Graham’s stable star has put up three meritorious efforts this season, finishing second to subsequent Old Roan winner Nuts Well at Kelso, coming home third in the Charlie Hall and most recently putting up a career-best effort to be second in the Ladbrokes Trophy.

Graham has mooted the Scottish National as an end-of-season target and with the recent cold snap holding him up slightly, an outing in Warwick’s Classic Chase has been discounted.

“He’s entered in the Doncaster race at the end of the month and that would be the immediate plan,” said Graham.

“We’ve had a little bit of a stop because we’re frozen solid up here (Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders) with two inches of snow, but he’s fit and he’ll be ready for that as it is supposed to warm up next week.

“He’s in really good order. Whether we go to Cheltenham or not is debateable and the Scottish Grand National has been mentioned.

“We had been going to go to Warwick next week, but I haven’t been able to get the work into him so we won’t enter for that now.

“The timing of the Doncaster race is good for those with spring targets, it is when the National horses are looking for a run.”

Alan King’s Rowland Meyrick winner Canelo, Brian Ellison’s Definitly Red, Paul Nicholls’ Give Me A Copper, the Venetia Williams-trained Royale Pagaille and Sandy Thomson’s rejuvenated Yorkhill are among 52 entries for the Town Moor contest.

Annie Mc in charge at Doncaster

Annie Mc made the most of racing against her own sex again as she ran out a convincing winner of the Yorkshire Silver Vase Mares’ Chase at Doncaster.

Since completing a hat-trick at Bangor in February, Annie Mc has been highly-tried in the Marsh Chase, the Old Roan Chase and the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup.

But trainer Jonjo O’Neill spotted an opportunity on Town Moor for the six-year-old, who duly obliged to pick up the Listed prize in the hands of Richie McLernon.

Casablanca Mix was the early pace-setter, with My Old Gold and Annie Mc close up.

McLernon made his move on Annie Mc as the field turned into the straight, with four fences left to jump.

Cut The Mustard came from last place to challenge Annie Mc, but the 11-4 favourite was too strong and pulled away to score by 16 lengths. Midnightreferendum was eight and a half lengths away in third place.

Speaking from Newbury, O’Neill said: “She made or one or two little mistakes, but she jumped well on the whole.

“She is a great little mare, and they’ve had great fun with her. We went there a little bit tongue in cheek really, but it worked out well. I wish I could have few more like her.

“Her first two runs were fine, but I would say that the ground played into her hands today because it was quite soft around there – so I’m glad they raced (after two morning inspections)!

“That always helps running back against the mares. She has been brilliant for the (owners’) group (Coral Champions Group), though.”

While Annie Mc’s long-term future is as a broodmare, O’Neill sees no reason to retire her just yet.

“We will have to see what there is for but we will have a bit of fun with her because she will be long enough breeding,” said the Jackdaws Castle handler.

“I hadn’t planned on it being her last season. She wants to race – and while she is in good form, we will drive on.

“You would have to think about the new mares’ race at Cheltenham as a target now if the ground was right.”

Doncaster awaits Annie Mc

Annie Mc is out to back up a fine effort in top-class handicap company when she competes against her own sex in the Yorkshire Silver Vase Mares’ Chase at Doncaster.

Trained by Jonjo O’Neill for the Coral Champions Club, the six-year-old won three last year before finishing unplaced behind Samcro at the Cheltenham Festival.

She looked in need of the run behind Nuts Well in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree but shaped better when fifth behind runaway winner Chatham Street Lad in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup.

“We were thrilled with Annie’s run at Cheltenham. The race was seriously competitive and not really run to suit her, but she stayed on well,” said Coral’s Simon Clare.

“She’s in great form at home, and this looks a lovely opportunity for her. She handles this ground really well, and the trip and track should suit her too, so we are very hopeful of a big run.

“It’s a shame Jonjo (O’Neill) Junior can’t ride, because he’s in action at Newbury, but Richie McLernon knows her really well and is a top jockey.”

Paul Nicholls is represented on Town Moor on Tuesday by Cut The Mustard, who has her first start for the Ditcheat trainer since leaving Willie Mullins – and also her first start since having a wind operation.

She was a Listed winner in mares’ company at Naas last season, and finished second in the Flyingbolt Novices’ Chase against the boys.

“This is her first run for us since arriving from Ireland, where she earned a mark of 140 over fences,” Nicholls told Betfair.

“We gave Cut The Mustard a wind op in the summer; she has schooled well and is fit and ready to start in this Listed Mares’ Chase. We will know more about her after this.

Alan King runs Midnightreferendum, a winner on her chasing debut and second to Zambella in a Listed race at Warwick last time out.

“She was a very good second in a similar race at Warwick, where she jumped superbly and was just beaten by a better mare on the day,” King told his website.

The Nicky Richards-trained My Old Gold, Nicky Henderson’s Casablanca Mix and Henry Daly’s Chilli Filli add further strength in depth to an intriguing contest.

Power and Lacey combine for Doncaster doubles

Trainer Tom Lacey teamed up with Robbie Power for a double with L’Incorrigible and Vado Forte at Doncaster.

Power had an instant reward for a rare visit to Town Moor when taking the opening bet365 Novices’ Hurdle on L’Incorrigible, who had been on the sidelines since winning a Warwick bumper in November 2018.

The five-year-old shrugged off his long absence to make a successful hurdles’ debut in encouraging fashion.

Always prominent, L’Incorrigible (100-30) was four and three-quarter lengths too good for Percy’s Word. Jack Sharp was a promising third three-quarters of a length away.

Lacey said: “He’s just a good horse. Any idiot can train a good horse. We’re just fortunate to have him.

“Obviously he’s had his problems. He had a stress fracture, then he had a tiny fracture of his pelvis. He’s been off a long time and his owners have been so patient, so it’s a grateful reward.

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“We’ll give him a chance after such a long time off. He needs a chance to get over that and we’ll bring him along slowly. He’s got his life ahead of him now.”

Vado Forte (4-1 joint-favourite) bounced back from a below-par effort on unsuitable ground to get off the mark over fences at the ninth attempt in the Each Way Extra At bet365 Handicap Chase.

The seven-year-old collared Solar Impulse at the final obstacle and went on to win by two and three-quarter lengths.

“Robbie Dunne said at Chepstow the ground was holding and all his best runs have been on soft ground when he can get through it,” said Lacey.

“We thought Doncaster’s ground would be right up his street and it’s all come together.

“The horse deserved to win a race. He’s been so consistent without winning and it’s taken the handicapper a long time to drop him because of that.”

Rocky’s Treasure (17-2) landed his first success since the December Novices’ Chase on this card two years ago with a game display in the bet365 Handicap Chase.

The Kim Bailey-trained nine-year-old had led most of the way and briefly looked beaten when headed, but he rallied for David Bass to defeat Give Me A Copper by half a length.

Bass said: “He’s quite a funny horse and he can be in and out. Last year he had two bad experiences on almost unraceable ground and it took us a while to get him back to where he is now.

“I felt at Newbury he travelled well for a long way and was coming back to himself. He felt great today and was loving it in front.

“He’s got loads of ability and has some very good form.”

The Paul Nicholls-trained Wild Max (5-2) benefited from the fall of leader Mick Maestro at the third-last flight to land the bet365 Handicap Hurdle.

The five-year-old kept up the gallop to strike by nine and a half lengths from Twin Star to give 7lb-claiming amateur Angus Cheleda his ninth career win.

Cheleda said: “He’s travelled brilliantly. He was a bit keen if anything. He jumped really well.

“The faller didn’t help me. He was left in the lead a bit too soon, but he stuck it out well in the end.”

A second 7lb claiming amateur on the scoresheet was Joshua Newman, who guided Tipalong Tyler (15-2) home for trainer Kayley Woollacott in the bet365 Mares’ Handicap Hurdle.

Monmiral extends winning run with Summit strike

Monmiral staked a claim for Cheltenham Festival honours when maintaining his unbeaten record in the bet365 Summit Juvenile Hurdle at Doncaster.

The French import was slashed to 12-1 from 25-1 for the Triumph Hurdle with Betfair and Paddy Power after adding to an Auteuil success when with Francois Nicolle and a win at Exeter for his new trainer Paul Nicholls.

Monmiral travelled like a 1-2 shot should throughout the extended two-mile journey as Gold Desert made a bold bid to lead all the way.

The race looked over when Monmiral went to the front at the third-last flight, but he gave Gold Desert another chance when fluffing the penultimate obstacle.

However, Monmiral was fluent at the last and drew away on the flat to score by 11 lengths in the hands of Sean Bowen and lift the Grade Two spoils. Glorious Zoff was 22 lengths away in third place.

Nicholls said: “He went to Exeter and won his prep for that very well. He will have one run before the spring, either here or possibly at Haydock and then he will go to either Cheltenham or Aintree.

“The idea is then look after him as he will be a chaser in the future.

“He made a bit of a mess at the second last, but he soon picked up and took off again which was good to see.

“Sir Alex (Ferguson, part owner) was up there to watch it and he nearly had two winners with Give Me A Copper, who has run well in defeat, so he has had a good day up there.”

Bowen added: “He’s a lovely horse. He travelled great. He was probably in front too soon.

“He was just travelling and winging hurdles.

“He’ll be better with a lead for longer, but I like him a lot.

“He wasn’t great at the second last, but he was just having a look round in front and he was good at the last.

“He’ll keep improving. He’s a very nice young horse.”

Bowen, who had fallen from Billingsley earlier on the card, did not take up his mount, Give Me A Copper, in the concluding bet365 Handicap Chase.

He was signed off by the racecourse medical officer and replaced by amateur rider Angus Cheleda.

O’Brien celebrates new milestone as Hurricane delivers in December prize

Fergal O’Brien reached a personal best of 64 winners in a season when Hurricane Harvey took the Grade Two bet365 December Novices’ Chase at Doncaster.

The Cheltenham-based handler was at the South Yorkshire venue to enjoy the moment rather than attend his local track.

“To get to 64 winners at this time of year is fantastic,” he said.

Hurricane Harvey (5-2) got the better of long-time leader Milanford to land the spoils by a length and a quarter in the hands of Paddy Brennan.

House Island was third with the favourite Ofalltheginjoints tailed off to be a disappointing last of four after never travelling or jumping well.

O’Brien said: “We are starting to grow up a bit because for the last few years we’d have probably ended up at Cheltenham trying to take on better horses there, but this was the right race to go for with him and it’s paid dividends.

“Connor (Brace) gave him a great ride first time and Paddy gave him a lovely ride the second. We got beat by a very good four-year-old (Ga Law) at Wincanton, so we’re delighted.

“He’s won his Grade Two and it’s great for connections. They have been great supporters of mine.

“I’d be lying if I said he was a natural. He takes a bit of work. I’m grateful to Martin Keighley who has a line of five fences. He’s let us go there and we do plenty of jumping with him at home.

“He’s a very honest horse and gets on with the job.”

O’Brien will give Hurricane Harvey’s next race some thought.

“He’ll go on any ground. We did think possibly about Kempton for the Kauto Star, but that just might come a bit soon, so we might put back on the backburner,” he added.

“We’ll enjoy today. There aren’t any people here, but it’s great to come here and we’re grateful.”

Brennan said: “It was his first time over three miles. It’s lovely to come here. He was in at Cheltenham, but three miles on a flat track is right for him and he is only going to improve.

“He’s done us proud. He’s won a Grade Two. We can’t ask for any more.”

Power expecting Zoff to peak in Summit date

Robbie Power expects Glorious Zoff to bounce back from a surprising defeat last time out and put up a better show in the bet365 Summit Hurdle at Doncaster.

The three-year-old, trained in Ireland by Gordon Elliott, was turned over at 4-11 at Sedgefield when beaten a length and a quarter by Le Magnifique.

Power believes that was not a true reflection of the horse’s ability as Glorious Zoff had created a good impression when winning by 12 lengths at Sligo on his hurdling debut.

“Glorious Zoff was a good winner of his maiden hurdle in Sligo and got beat at short odds in Sedgefield the last day, but things didn’t quite work out for him,” said Power.

“This is a step up in class, but he should be very competitive.”

Monmiral won first time out for trainer Paul Nicholls after leaving Francois Nicolle’s stable in France.

The Saint Des Saints gelding justified favouritism in good style at Exeter last month, having also won on his debut over the smaller obstacles at Auteuil in March.

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“I was delighted with his winning debut for us at Exeter, where his jumping was sound and he finished full of running,” the Ditcheat handler told Betfair.

“I hadn’t been hard on him at home and half expected him to maybe need the race a bit because in the back of my mind the Exeter race was going to be a prep for this weekend, either at Doncaster or Cheltenham.

“We think Monmiral is smart and he has definitely improved for the experience.”

Making up the five runners are Oliver Greenall’s Gold Desert, third at Sedgefield behind Glorious Zoff but a winner since at Catterick, plus Heather Main’s Flat maiden Cloud Thunder and Mistersister, a hurdles scorer in France before moving to Charlie Mann’s stable.

Power is also looking forward to continuing his association with Ofalltheginjoints in the bet365 December Novices’ Chase.

The Irish jockey steered the Colin Tizzard-trained six-year-old to victory at Exeter a month ago on his second run over fences.

“He won nicely in Exeter the last day. This is a step up in class obviously to Grade Two company from a handicap, but he seems in good form,” said Power.

“He’s the highest-rated horse in the race, so hopefully he’ll have a good chance.”

Trainer Nick Mitchell is hopeful of a decent display from Milanford.

The six-year-old outran his odds of 66-1 when only beaten a length and three-quarters in second place behind L’Air Du Vent at Exeter three weeks ago.

That was his first run under rules after several point-to-point runs for Thomas Malone.

“He ran to a really good level last time,” said Dorset-based Mitchell.

“The trip and the ground will suit.

“I don’t think it’s beyond him. He’s got plenty of experience through his point to pointing days.”

House Island, trained by Paul Webber, will be a strong fancy after opening his account over fences at Ludlow.

Fergal O’Brien’s Hurricane Harvey made a successful chasing debut at Uttoxeter in October, but was second of three behind Ga Law at Wincanton on his only subsequent start.

The Mighty Don was the other horse declared, but he ran at Cheltenham on Friday and was second to Happygolucky.

Festival heroine Indefatigable in line for weekend Cheltenham return

Indefatigable is on course to return to the scene of her finest hour with an outing in the Close Brothers’ Mares’ Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday.

The seven-year-old gave her trainer Paul Webber his first Festival winner when coming late to claim the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle over two and a half miles in March.

She tried three miles for the first time at Kempton last month when third in a Listed contest behind Bannixtown Glory. In hindsight, Webber wished their tactics had been more positive.

“It’s more than likely she’ll go to Cheltenham,” said the Banbury handler.

“She’s got a lot of weight, but there’s nothing else for her at the moment and she always runs well there so I think that is probably the best place to go.

“She ran fine at Kempton. We probably didn’t make enough use of her. It turned into a sprint.

“Because it was her first time over three miles we were probably a bit tentative and she ended up not having a hard race.”

Webber has stablemate House Island entered in the Jockey Club Cheltenham SW Syndicate Novices’ Chase on Saturday, but is leaning towards sending the horse to Doncaster on the same afternoon.

The bet365 December Novices’ Chase is over three miles, compared to an extended two and a half miles at Cheltenham, but Webber has no concerns about the longer distance.

“He’s more likely to go to Doncaster than Cheltenham, I think at the moment,” said Webber.

“There are quite a few of them in both races, but I think Doncaster might be where we go.

“He ran well over further as a hurdler so hopefully he’s about ready for it now.”

House Island got off the mark over fences at the second attempt at Ludlow last month.

King marches On To Victory in Doncaster feature

Alan King collected a first November Handicap title when On To Victory obliged at 10-1 under James Doyle in the Doncaster Flat season finale.

The six-year-old claimed a first victory since 2017 after battling past 28-1 shot Rhythmic Intent and 80-1 chance Nuits St Georges in the Betfair-sponsored feature.

The Rock Of Gibraltar gelding has successfully switched codes in the latter stages of the Flat season to tally three places before this victory, after being campaigned over hurdles throughout the winter.

His triumph completed a tremendous few minutes for King, who just moments earlier struck in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton with Sceau Royal.

“Speaking to Alan we thought the race should set up quite nicely for him, in a sense with that many runners there’s usually a good pace,” said Doyle.

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“They went a hell of a pace today, I planned to be midway or somewhere to the fore of that mid-group, but they didn’t break that quick. It’s a cavalry charge down to that elbow and I thought we’d be better taking our time a bit.

“It worked out nicely. I thought I was tracking up behind the right type of horses, I had Kingbrook in front of me and the one he was following was Euchen Glen.

“I was pretty happy turning into the straight and then they stopped, so my only concern was that I was exposing him to daylight a bit sooner than would be ideal for him, but I think on this ground you need to keep the forward momentum going and hopefully it will carry them through to the ground.

“He’s won, ears pricked at the line, with plenty more to give.”

Henry Ponsonby, syndicate manager of owners HP Racing, was delighted to see his faith in On To Victory vindicated.

“It was a great team effort for a horse we have always liked a lot,” he said.

“James Doyle gave him a great ride, and it wasn’t unexpected because this horse has got enormous talent and he’s going to be very exciting over hurdles. He’s a different horse to when he was hurdling before. He just had the four runs and was rated 125. That’s where he’s going to go now.

“A great team of owners have been very patient, because he’d had nearly two years off the Flat. He was running in the November Handicap 9lb lower than his official rating two years ago – so he was, to a certain extent, thrown in and he’s done nothing wrong at all.

“It’s great credit also to Gary Witheford, the stalls’ ‘horse whisperer’ – his team was up there with him because he has got a slight problem with the stalls, and without them I don’t think he’d have lined up for today’s race.

“It’s been a great day for Alan (King). He had a wonderful winner (Sceau Royal) at Wincanton, Canelo at Aintree and a nice winner yesterday. The horses are firing – it’s fantastic.”

Dakota Gold completes hat-trick with Wentworth Stakes romp

Dakota Gold recorded a third successive victory with an explosive performance from the front in the Listed Betfair Wentworth Stakes at Doncaster.

Michael Dods’ gelding has enjoyed a stellar run of form, taking both the re-routed Group Three Bengough Stakes at York and the Listed Rous Stakes at Nottingham on his last two starts.

The six-year-old was last to enter the stalls and first to exit them as he shot to the head of the field to establish a lead he maintained throughout, holding off 20-1 shot Aberama Gold by three-quarters of a length – with Zim Baby a further length and a quarter back in third, at 40-1.

Paul Mulrennan took the ride from usual jockey Connor Beasley, who is otherwise engaged in Dubai, partnering Dakota Gold for the first time – with detailed instructions from his usual pilot.

“He’s a grand old horse – he’s been a real warrior this year,” Mulrennan said of the 4-1 winner.

“He wears his heart on his sleeve. Unfortunately for Connor Beasley, he’s away in Dubai, but it’s his ride.

“Connor sent me a message last night and gave me the instructions, told me how to ride him – and I’ve done exactly that.

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“He’s very tough, he loves that ground. It’s a great performance, carrying that penalty, and obviously he’s done nothing but improve all year. He’s a lovely old horse.”

Dods praised Dakota Gold’s tenacity at the end of a busy and fruitful season.

“They were coming to him. But he’s dug deep, he’s dug very deep – and he’s done it well.”

“That’s it, he’s finished for the season now, so we’ll look forward to next year.

“He’s had a tough season. We nearly finished him after his last run but we decided to wait, because of the soft ground, for today.

“He’s getting better – I really think he’s improving. I think he’ll definitely be looking at more Group races next season.”

Chamade (second right) and Richard Kingscote on their way to victory in the Betfair Exchange British EBF Gillies Fillies’ Stakes at Doncaster
Chamade (second right) and Richard Kingscote on their way to victory in the Betfair Exchange British EBF Gillies Fillies’ Stakes at Doncaster (Tim Goode/PA)

Ralph Beckett’s Chamade returned to form to take the Listed Betfair Exchange British EBF Gillies Fillies’ Stakes, under a front-running ride from Richard Kingscote.

The three-year-old outran odds of 12-1 to see off stablemate Trefoil (7-1) and William Haggas’ Ice Sprite (6-1) by three-quarters of a length and a head.

After a career-best victory in a Goodwood handicap two starts ago, Chamade employed the same tactics and made much of the running to return to the winner’s enclosure – having finished sixth at York last time out.

Kingscote explained he was following the trainer’s instructions.

“Mr Beckett just said be positive and make it from the front if you can,” he said.

“Both her decent wins now have come from the front, both here and Goodwood. She showed a very good attitude and deserves to win a nice race.

“She was in a lovely rhythm.

“I was pretty happy with the way she was going, and she didn’t stop – so it was a really tough performance in what aren’t easy conditions.

“It’s deep ground, but you wouldn’t expect anything else at this time of year. She’s done her job.”