Hobbs' charge has big Chance
Ikorodu Road returns to Newbury this afternoon in a bid to avenge what was a luckless experience on his last visit to the Berkshire track back in December.
On that occasion, in dense fog, the Martin Keighley-trained son of Double Trigger is reported to have been two lengths clear on the run to the final fence, at which point he unseated Johnny Farrelly.
However, because the fog was so bad, few saw exactly what happened, though it is of note that the form of the race has worked out well.
Ikorodu Road has his first run since then for his in-form handler in the Greatwood Gold Cup today, but he has been installed the 6/1 favourite, and represents little value at that in such a competitive race. Having not won for two years, the eight-year-old still has many questions to answer, with weak finishes a recurring theme in that time.
Since going chasing last season, Ikorodu Road has gone up 16lbs in the weights without winning, so it can pay to look elsewhere here. There is a healthy mixture of young and old among his 16 rivals, few more interesting than Tail Of The Bank.
A winner over hurdles on this card 12 months ago, the Flemensfirth gelding is one from three since going chasing in the new year, and he was a respectable third behind Finian's Rainbow last time. Off 10st 10lb, he looks booked for a place.
That said, this will be a tough ask for an inexperienced sort, so Tail Of The Bank is passed over for the win in favour of Chance Du Roy. Philip Hobbs' charge was twice a winner over fences this time last year and he has improved steadily again this term. Following a low-key start over hurdles in November, Chance Du Roy was third on his return to chasing at Folkestone, before battling to a brave win over today's two-and-a-half-mile trip at Chepstow in January.
He subsequently recorded another sound effort off an 8lb higher mark when third to the smart Hey Big Spender at Warwick.
Chance Du Roy has been dropped a pound for that now and, at seven years of age, he remains open to further improvement. With Tom O'Brien up, he gets in here off a reasonable 11st, so 16/1 looks generous about such a consistent animal.
In the veterans' handicap chase that precedes the feature, Conor O'Dwyer has an intriguing runner in the shape of Cane Brake. The Sadler's Wells gelding has been out of sorts for some time, but O'Dwyer is obviously hoping that he can be competitive in a race of this sort on decent ground.
While Cane Brake could have an each-way chance, it's difficult to see him prevailing in a heat that is full of in-form horses. Cornish Sett, a winner of the day's main event five years ago, may be the one to keep on side.
In four starts at Newbury, the 12-year-old has two wins and two seconds to his name, the most recent of which came when he chased home the useful West End Rocker in December. Following that, Cornish Sett progressed to win off a 3lb higher mark at Wincanton, and another 5lbs might not be enough to stop him here.
The three-mile novice hurdle on the card sees a fascinating showdown between five Irish point-to-point winners from last year. The former Liam Burke-trained duo State Benefit and Rangitoto are the two to focus on, with Rangitoto possibly the pick.
An impressive scorer at Carrigtwohill in January 2010, the Old Vic six-year-old was asked to win his race a long way out on his racecourse debut at Ffos Las five weeks ago. He will benefit from a more restrained ride from Ruby Walsh now, while the step up to this distance should also help.
Up at Doncaster, Ogee warrants support in the coral.co.uk Grimthorpe Chase. A one-time Grade One-winning hurdler, Renee Robeson's eight-year-old was running well until a couple of mistakes took their toll on his seasonal debut at Cheltenham in November, and he has been dropped a few pounds for that now.
Best bet: Rangitoto
- Richard Forristal tipped Quinz to win at 8/1 last week, while the Best Bet, Captain Chris, also collected for a second week in succession.