Thursday 18 January 2018

Reach for the Sky with Galaxy Rock

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Doncaster's Sky Bet Chase is undoubtedly the day's most challenging betting heat in England.

The three-mile handicap promises to be a cracking renewal, boasting an excellent variety of contenders among its 17-runner field.

Over the past 10 years, just two horses rated 150 or higher have lined out in the race.

Today, David Pipe's 152-rated top-weight I'msingingtheblues -- the highest-rated horse to tackle the race in that time -- is one of three that posts a mark of 150 or more.

Calgary Bay, Shakalakaboomboom, Fruity O'Rooney and Qianshan Leader all bring winning form to the table, while Shalimar Fromentro is a six-year-old with potential.

Following Hold On Julio's withdrawal yesterday morning, Nicky Henderson's Shakalakaboomboom has taken over as favourite, though he is far from a prohibitive price at up to 13/2.

Indeed, all of the aforementioned winners should give you a run for your money, as could the hitherto frustrating Wymott in first-time blinkers.

However, the Jonjo O'Neill-trained Galaxy Rock may be the one that offers the best value at around 8/1. Pulled up in the Welsh National, the eight-year-old travelled and jumped sweetly for a long way on that occasion, before the heavy ground told.

With the exception of a win in a Leicester novice chase that saw only two horses complete the course, Galaxy Rock has no form on really testing conditions, so his Chepstow outing can be readily excused. Other than that, he remains a progressive option on just his ninth chasing start, and today's good to soft going will be ideal.

Prior to Chepstow, he won for a second time in a row at Cheltenham in December, slamming subsequent big-race winners Carruthers and Hey Big Spender by 14 lengths and more. Galaxy Rock went up 11lbs for that, but he has now been dropped two, so he gets in here off a reasonable racing weight of 11st 4lb.

With a hungry AP McCoy booked to steer, he should have a big say in proceedings.

At Cheltenham, the Argento Chase tops the bill. Captain Chris, 18 lengths third in the King George, heads the market, but his patchy Kempton outing was inconclusive.

Although last year's Arkle Trophy winner will be more suited by Prestbury Park, Diamond Harry may be a better option here.

Nick Williams' charge has run just once since landing the Hennessy Gold Cup in 2010, finishing the same distance behind Kauto Star when tiring into fourth in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November.

That being only Diamond Harry's fifth run over fences, he has scope to progress further and it is not insignificant that he had Time For Rupert, which reopposes here, back in fifth.

Noel Fehily takes the reins for a first time on the top-rated runner, so there is plenty to recommend him in what should be an informative race.

In the Murphy Group Chase, while reluctant to take on the Ruby Walsh-ridden Aerial, The Giant Bolster appeals. David Bridgewater's seven-year-old has been let down by his jumping, but he has completed the course twice in succession now.

At Newbury last time, he did well to get within two lengths of the easy winner Time For Rupert, given that he met the Argento runner on 11lb wrong terms. If he can translate that into this afternoon's more competitive contest, he isn't badly treated.

Walsh might be the man to keep on side in the preceding novices' handicap chase. He rides That'lldoboy for Paul Nicholls here, a horse that was still in with a chance when crashing out in a decent race at Kempton a month ago.

Best Bet: The Giant Bolster

Irish Independent

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