Given it is a Friday before a busy day of racing (weather permitting of course), you could be forgiven for berating me for ignoring the action tomorrow and casting a look ahead to the end of January. Though, given the situation up and down the country, hopefully late January is a time when things start to look a little rosier generally.
Anyhow, digression over with, and it’s on to the recommendations – they come in the valuable Sky Bet Handicap Chase at Doncaster on Saturday 30th January, and as I write both are double figure prices. There seems to be some momentum behind one, if not both of them, on account of recent published news articles outlining their expected participation in the race. So best to move relatively quickly I feel.
The first is the Christian Williams-trained Cap Du Nord, who is 10/1 with sponsors Sky Bet who already offer 5 places for each-way bets. Williams is slowly but surely making a name for himself as a trainer, and more big race wins such as Potters Corner’s Welsh National triumph are not long in the offing.
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Cap Du Nord could well provide him with that next notable notch. Given he has been a slow burner over fences until this season, his rate of progression, now he has become a stronger and more mature horse, is quite notable this term. He won at Newbury on his second seasonal start readily, holding off Canelo, who won next time out and who could re-oppose at Doncaster.
What sets him apart for this race is the fact that the handicapper has only raised him 4lbs, for his second-place effort behind the easiest handicap chase winner of the season Royale Pagaille, at Kempton Park over Christmas. Royale Pagaille was whacked up 14lbs, and while he was slightly inferior on the day, there was a lot to like about Cap Du Nord’s effort in defeat.
The margin the pair put between themselves and their toiling rivals in the straight was striking, and you’d be sure that if Royale Pagaille wasn’t in the race and Cap Du Nord had ‘won’ by the 19-length margin back to the third Double Shuffle, there’s no way he would only have been raised 4lbs. It’s not often connections commend the leniency of the handicapper, but in this case, those associated with Cap Du Nord very much should, and I strongly suggest we should join in and take the 10/1 each-way with sponsors Sky Bet.
The other one to back now is the Ladbrokes Trophy runner-up Aye Right, who at 14/1 each-way for 5 places with Sky Bet, is also markedly overpriced in my estimation, on the back of that effort at Newbury.
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Fresh from a mighty run in the Charlie Hall Chase behind Cyrname, he backed that up by chasing home Cloth Cap, who was an ultimately very impressive winner. But as with Cap Du Nord, had Aye Right been in a Cloth Cap-less race, then he would have been a ready and comfortable winner that day, and as such the handicapper wouldn’t have raised him just the solitary pound for his troubles.
Both Cap Du Nord and Aye Right have designs on big races in the spring, but in the meantime and if 2020 has taught us anything, it is to strike while the iron is hot, as you never quite know what the future will hold – and I feel that both Cap Du Nord at 10/1 and Aye Right at 14/1, will be perfectly suited to a flat 3m around Doncaster, and with a first prize of £42,713, it is a race not to be sniffed at.