SkyBet Chase Preview: BigBadJohn To Be On Best Behaviour
Saturday’s valuable Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster has attracted a strong entry of 22 at Monday’s declaration stage but with many possible contenders also having alternative targets at Cheltenham on the same afternoon the final make-up of the three mile handicap is hard to predict at this early stage. The Nicky Henderson-trained L’Ami Serge currently heads the betting at a best price 11-2 with the sponsor but the talented though enigmatic eight-year-old has entries in both the Festival Trials Chase and Cleeve Hurdle at Prestbury Park.
Second favourite Definitly Red ( 10-1 Paddy Power and Betfair Sportsbook ) is more likely to run in Cheltenham’s Gold Cup trial – the Cotswold Chase – while Frodon ( 11-1 William Hill ), O O Seven ( 14-1 generally ) and Tenor Nivernais ( 25-1 SunBets ) are all entered for Cheltenham’s 2m 5f handicap on Saturday afternoon. The Sue Smith-trained Wakanda however ( 12-1 generally ) looks a strong contender for the Town Moor race worth £45,560 to the winner, a remark which also applies to Long House Hall ( 16-1 Sky Bet ) from the Dan Skelton stable.
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The lightly-weighted Pilgrims Bay is capable of going close on his Racing Post Chase victory while the likes of Vibrato Valtat, Flying Angel and Thumb Stone Blues are all capable of going close should things drop right but at the 14-1 available with Betvictor, Unibet and 888sport the one who appeals most is the ex Rebecca Curtis inmate Bigbadjohn.
The nine-year-old son of Vinnie Row will be having his first start for new trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies and if the change of scenery can spark a revival in the form of the talented chaser the gelding’s current mark of 133 is there to be exploited.
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An eight length second to Thistlecrack as a novice prior to being sent off the 9-2 market leader for this race 12 months ago off a 3lb higher mark, Bigbadjohn was a beaten horse when slipping-up on the flat but bounced back to form on his next start when winning the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot.
Raised to a mark of 144 following that victory Bigbadjohn has failed to build on that form in several subsequent starts but Twiston-Davies is a master at bringing out the best in his new recruits and should that be the case here his recent acquisition looks thrown-in off his featherweight.