Timeform preview the Sky Bet Handicap Chase that takes place at Doncaster on Saturday and pick out their best bet.
"...he stays well, acts on any ground, and looks good value..."
Timeform on Federici
Having saddled two of the last three winners of the Sky Bet Chase - which takes places at 15:15 at Doncaster on Saturday - it's no surprise that Alan King has identified another strong candidate for this valuable pot, and he'll be very hopeful that ante-post favourite Dingo Dollar will fare better than stablemate Label des Obeaux, who could only manage sixth in last year's renewal.
Dingo Dollar is a progressive chaser who won a novice handicap at Newbury and a novice event over C&D (by three lengths from Baden) in 2017/18. He came on for his reappearance and shaped very well when 17 lengths third to Sizing Tennessee in the Ladbrokes Trophy back at Newbury last time, making his effort earlier than ideal. This slightly sharper test will be very much in his favour and a subsequent 4 lb rise looks fair, too, given the exploits of the runner-up Elegant Escape and the fourth Beware The Bear, so there's every reason to expect another bold bid from this likeable type.
Second favourite at the time of writing is O O Seven, a smart handicapper who made a winning return from eight months off (having had a breathing operation) in a five-runner event over C&D last time, staying on to lead near the finish after looking held two out. He made hard work of that, though, and the percentage call is that he'll struggle having been raised 5 lb in the weights.
Paul Nicholls' most recent win in this race came with Big Fella Thanks in 2009, and he looks to have several likely contenders, headed by last year's runner-up Warriors Tale. He was beaten only a head by Wakanda (from a 6 lb lower mark) 12 months ago and proved at least as good as ever when resuming winning ways in the 21f Grand Sefton Chase at Aintree (by one and a half lengths from Brandon Hill) last time. A subsequent rise in the weights makes life tougher here, though.
Nicholls' Cyrname dominated the big handicap at Ascot last weekend, and the yard also has Art Mauresque and Favorito Buck's amongst the entries for this race. Art Mauresque came on for his reappearance when a good half-length second to Traffic Fluide in the Sodexo Gold Cup (Handicap) at Ascot in November. He looked set to be suited by the drop back in trip but ran below form when well held in the 2½m Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon last time, and is now 4 lb higher back in a handicap, which may hinder his chances.
Of more interest is Favorito Buck's, who got into a good rhythm out in front when winning at Ascot (by two and a half lengths from Vice Et Vertu) in November. He was below that form when only sixth to Valtor in the Silver Cup at the same course last time having been raised 6 lb, but is 2 lb lower now and the return to quicker ground will suit. He will need to bring his best form to make an imprint in this field, but that's exactly what Cyrname did last weekend. While most of his form has come going right-handed, Favorito Buck's has won around the figure of eight circuit at Fontwell, and there's no reason to think that he won't run a big race at 16/1.
In all likelihood, Favorito Buck's will face some competition for the lead, primarily from the 10-year-olds Monbeg River and Go Conquer. The former has run well in defeat the last twice, but his best form has come over shorter, while Go Conquer is up 4 lb after finding O O Seven too strong in the finish here last month and may be vulnerable as a result.
Not that long ago, this preview might well have started with Minella Rocco, but it's a good indication of his stop-start career that he only gets a mention eight paragraphs in. He was a high-class chaser at his best but hasn't won since the 2016 Cheltenham Festival, when beating none other than Gold Cup winner Native River in the National Hunt Chase. He was beaten when falling at the last in the Irish Gold Cup won by Edwulf at Leopardstown when last seen in February 2018, but his runner-up effort in the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup means that he could make a mockery of his BHA mark of 155 if anywhere near his best here.
Singlefarmpayment also has plenty of ability, but he is notoriously hard to win with, his losing run stretching back to December 2016. He proved at least as good as ever under a superb ride when a head second to Cogry in a 3¼m Grade 3 handicap at Cheltenham last time, but he was ultimately outbattled after challenging on the run-in. A 1 lb higher mark and the drop back in trip are of little concern, though his willingness to win is.
Willie Boy left Venetia Williams after his final start in 2017/18, and made his third start for a new yard a winning one when winning easily by 11 lengths from Oak Vintage at Wetherby last time. He was value for more than the winning margin that day, too, and a subsequent 9 lb rise seems fair. Former stablemate Calipto returned to his best when winning a 2½m handicap at Wincanton (by four lengths from Catamaran du Seuil, leading three out) last time, but he has his stamina to prove now stepping up to this trip for the first time, while his inconsistent jumping is also a cause for concern.
Federici is now 1 lb lower than when fifth in last year's renewal, and he shaped well when filling the same position behind Walk In The Mill in the Becher Chase at Aintree last time (from 4 lb out of the handicap). Indeed, he stays well, acts on any ground, and looks good value at 25/1, especially when we consider that lightly-weighted runners have a good record in the race (of the winners, only 2012 victor Calgary Bay has carried more than 11 st 2 lb since 1998).
The field is completed by Brian Boranha who is quite hard to assess, having been left clear when winning at Sedgefield last time, and On Tour, who has a good chance on weight-adjusted Timeform ratings. He was a staying-on third to Houblon des Obeaux in a Veterans' Handicap Chase Final at Sandown last time, nearest at the finish, though may find some of his younger rivals too far out of reach once again here.
Dingo Dollar has a different profile to the majority of these, his best days over fences still ahead of him, and he shaped as though he would be suited by this drop back in trip at Newbury last time. He's a deserving favourite, but he might not be any shorter on the day, and preference at this stage is to back one at a bigger price. Federici has often run well from out of the weights in big handicaps like this and, for once - assuming either Minella Rocco or Warriors Tale runs - he'll be 1 lb out of the weights at worst and, with an encouraging reappearance under his belt, looks overpriced at 25/1.
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