Tag Archive for: Sky Bet Chase

Tea For Free chasing five-timer in Sky Bet heat

Tea For Free will look to continue a superb run of form when he lines up in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster on Saturday.

The eight-year-old has gone from strength to strength this season, winning four consecutive handicap chases and seeing his mark rise from 105 to a current figure of 138.

That mark leaves him to carry 11st 2lb on Town Moor, but conditional rider Lilly Pinchin will claim 3lb as Tea For Free bids to make it five on the spin for trainer Charlie Longsdon.

“He’s well and in good form, we’re looking forward to seeing him go,” said Longsdon.

“It’s a step up in class but we’ll see what happens. He’s progressed, he’s massively progressed and he’s gone up nearly 30lb in the handicap but it’s a big step forward, so we’ll see.

Tea For Free and Lilly Pinchin
Tea For Free and Lilly Pinchin (Nigel French/PA)

“He’s proven at the trip, if he can cope with a quicker pace and a step up in class then that’s great, but if not we’ll just think again.

“Lilly is taking weight off and we couldn’t be happier, we’ll just keep our fingers crossed.”

Top weight is Jamie Snowden’s Ga Law, winner of the Paddy Power Gold Cup and stepping up in trip for the first time.

“He’s only a young horse with very few miles on the clock and you’d like to think there’s a degree of improvement in him, and hopefully part of that improvement comes from going up in trip as well,” said Snowden.

“He’s in the Ryanair this year and we’ll certainly think along those lines depending on how he gets on.”

Kerry Lee’s Demachine will line up under Caoilin Quinn for his first run since finishing mid-division in a Cheltenham handicap chase on New Year’s Day.

Prior to that the nine-year-old was second on better ground in the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase at Newbury in November.

“He’s in good form, he was due to run at Ascot last weekend but obviously that didn’t happen,” said Lee.

Kerry Lee's Demachine
Kerry Lee’s Demachine (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“I’m not entirely sure he was suited to the track at Cheltenham, so we’re trying a flat track.

“I think he’ll like the better ground, it was May when he last won and the ground was good officially, it was that time of year when the ground is a bit drier than winter good.”

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Undersupervision landed the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster last term and returns to the same track to step down two furlongs in trip under the trainer’s son Sam.

Last seen pulled up at Newbury, the chestnut should benefit from better ground this time around.

“He didn’t really cope with the soft ground at Newbury, but we’re going back to Doncaster where he’s got form, so hopefully he’ll run really well,” Nigel Twiston-Davies told Sky Sports Racing.

Undersupervision during his hurdling career
Undersupervision during his hurdling career (Tim Goode/PA)

“He is a stayer and we’ll want a nice, strong pace hopefully. He’s definitely got an each-way chance.

“So many horses haven’t run, so they’re all there.”

Elsewhere in the race is Jonjo O’Neill’s former Coral Gold Cup winner Cloth Cap, with Nicky Henderson represented by last season’s Scilly Isles second, Mister Coffey.

The reigning champion in the race is Brian Ellison’s Windsor Avenue, who defends his title under Ross Chapman.

Christian Williams’ Cap Du Nord, third in the past two runnings, competes again, with Tom George’s Java Point, the Stuart Coltherd-trained Cooper’s Cross, Nick Alexander’s Elvis Mail and Shanty Alley from Ben Case’s yard completing the field.

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Into Overdrive ruled out of Sky Bet Chase date

Into Overdrive will miss his intended run in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster on Saturday after scoping dirty and now looks set to be saved for the Cheltenham Festival.

Trainer Mark Walford was primed to run in the valuable three-mile event after Into Overdrive defeated Sounds Russian in the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby on Boxing Day.

Prior to that, the highly-progressive Court Cave gelding had chased home L’Homme Presse in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle.

However, hopes of a third success of the season will have to wait a while after Wendy Hamilton’s eight-year-old was found to be under the weather.

“It is disappointing, but it is nothing serious,” said Walford. “You’ve got to be at the top of your game to be running in those sort of races.

“There was just a little bit of mucus – nothing I’m overly concerned about, It is just bad timing.”

Walford added: “We will probably just wait for the Ultima at Cheltenham. There is nothing really in between.

“There is only a race at Kempton before Cheltenham that is suitable for him (Coral Trophy Handicap Chase, February 25), and I think we will probably prefer to go to Cheltenham over that.

“I’d expect we’ll have him cleared up in a week or so, but there are just not that many opportunities for him.

“It is gutting. These types of races don’t come along very often, but you get used to it when you deal with horses. You get problems and it is far from a major one, so he’ll be back and fine and there will be plenty of other nice races for him to run in.”

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Windsor Avenue out to repeat Sky Bet Chase heroics

Brian Ellison is optimistic Windsor Avenue can bounce back to form when bidding for a repeat victory in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster on Saturday.

The 11-year-old was a shock 40-1 winner of the Town Moor feature 12 months ago, but has been pulled up in four of his subsequent five starts.

His fourth-place finish behind the top-class L’Homme Presse in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle on his penultimate start is giving his trainer hope, however, while he believes he has discovered a valid reason for his latest no-show in the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby on Boxing Day.

Ellison said: “He ran really well at Newcastle, but then he finished lame the last time he ran and we found out afterwards he was sore in his knees.

“Hopefully we’ve got him back. He’s definitely working really well and we’ve managed to not miss anything with the bad weather, which is good.

“It’s a hot race and he has been frustrating, but he is in great form and when he’s on-song we know he’s a good horse.”

Windsor Avenue was fitted with blinkers for the first time in last year’s renewal, but did not finish his next three races in the headgear and it has been left off the last twice.

Brian Ellison trains Windsor Avenue
Brian Ellison trains Windsor Avenue (Mike Egerton/PA)

“The blinkers are finished for him,” Ellison added.

“They worked at Doncaster last year, but they didn’t work after that – he didn’t want to know.

“He didn’t even want to go out on the track with them on at Aintree (in October), so we took them off and he then ran well in the Rehearsal. Hopefully we can get back to that.”

Windsor Avenue was one of 22 horses left in the Sky Bet Chase at Monday’s confirmation stage, with Mark Walford’s Into Overdrive and Jamie Snowden’s Ga Law two of the leading contenders.

Ga Law and jockey Jonathan Burke after winning the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham
Ga Law and jockey Jonathan Burke after winning the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham (David Davies/Jockey Club)

Into Overdrive was second in the Rehearsal before going one better in the Rowland Meyrick, while Ga Law was last seen winning the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November.

The weights are headed by Nicky Henderson’s Dusart, with Cap Du Nord (Christian Williams), the prolific Tea For Free (Charlie Longsdon) and Cooper’s Cross (Stuart Coltherd) also standing their ground.

Mr Incredible and Stolen Silver are two of the more notable absentees.

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