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Punters prepared to forgive Vino Griego's recent trespasses might be rewarded at Doncaster tomorrow.

Punters prepared to forgive Vino Griego's recent trespasses might be rewarded at Doncaster tomorrow.

At first glance, Gary Moore's 10-year-old would appear an absolute no-hoper in the Skybet Chase. As quirky as they come in jumps racing, nondescript efforts in the Hennessy and in a handicap chase at Sandown ensure he will be sent on his way at sizeable odds.

But the very lifeblood of Vino Griego, or so it would seem, is to chuck in a load of stinkers before suddenly coming good again.

Now could feasibly be the right time to catch him.

As The Rainbow Hunter's 25-1 shocker last year solemnly told us, the old cliche about the formbook going out of the window can often be applicable to this Listed affair over three miles.

Memories of his run at the National meeting last April should not easily be erased as he got to within a head of Duke Of Lucca in a Listed race over three miles and a furlong.

Versatile in terms of whatever Mother Nature throws at him and with proven stamina, when in the right frame of mind, Vino Griego is, interestingly, back at the same mark off which he ran so well on Merseyside.

And while it still requires a vivid imagination to see him winning, the galloping nature of Doncaster might just quell the enigmatic urges which have continually been his downfall.

Festival trials day at Cheltenham brings with it hope and expectation - none more so than for connections of Smad Place. Alan King's striking grey takes his place in the Grade Two BetBright Cup Chase, a recognised prep for the Gold Cup in March, and he must have a smashing chance.

The eight-year-old has not yet bettered his hurdles rating over fences, but it is surely only a matter of time. Trained by King with typically sangfroid patience, Smad Place has only had five starts within the chasing division, but his neck defeat in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham last March was a clear indicator that there is a great deal more to come.

Indeed, connections must have been fairly cock-a-hoop by his seasonal debut in the Hennessy at Newbury, when he clearly needed the run, yet still finished fifth.

Expect a far sharper animal at Cheltenham, a track at which he barely falters, while all variants of going tend to come the same to him.

SAPHIR DU RHEU should enjoy the switch back to smaller obstacles in the galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle.

Paul Nicholls had mapped out a chase campaign for the six-year-old but things have not really gone to plan with Saphir Du Rheu failing to complete in two of his three outings.

SILVERHEELS can make a successful return to Lingfield in the Ladbrokes Handicap.

Paul Cole's grey was a big eyecatcher in a much better race than this over course and distance on December 28, when he made lots of late ground to finish third.

Uttoxeter regular Hollywood All Star should revel in the mud back at the Staffordshire circuit when he takes the plunge in the SSJ Electrical Handicap Hurdle.


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