Le Mercurey heads field of 15 for Saturday’s Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster

Exciting novice Le Mercurey (10st 9lb) is Sky Bet’s 5/1 favourite for the £80,000 Sky Bet Chase (3.15pm), highlight of a superb card at Doncaster on Saturday, January 30.

The Paul Nicholls-trained six-year-old makes his handicap chase debut under Nick Scholfield in the Listed three-mile contest after winning on two of his three starts over fences, including a comfortable success in a Grade Two novices’ chase at Ascot in December.

A total of five novices have been successful in the Sky Bet Chase since 2000, including last year’s winner If In Doubt.

Recent course and distance scorer Ziga Boy (Alan King/Tom Cannon, 10st) is the 6/1 second favourite with the race sponsor, while Paddy Power Gold Cup runner-up Buywise (Evan Williams/Brian Harding, 11st 4lb) also features prominently in the betting at 7/1.

The weights are headed Holywell (Jonjo O’Neill/Richie McLernon, 11st 12lb), who is also a 7/1 chance with Sky Bet. The 159-rated chaser captured the Grade One Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree’s Grand National meeting in 2014 and finished fourth in last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Pass The Hat (12/1, Arthur Moore/Donagh Meyler, 10st 4lb) bids to become only the second Irish-trained winner of the Sky Bet Chase following Knock Hard, who triumphed for Vincent O’Brien back in 1953.

On his one previous visit to Britain, Pass The Hat finished a staying-on fourth in a Listed handicap chase over three miles at Ascot in November, 2014.

The nine-year-old was last seen out when a staying on second in a two and a half-mile handicap hurdle at Punchestown on December 31 and has won three chases at around two and a half miles, most recently at Killarney in August, 2014. His jockey Donagh Meyler is set to claim a useful 5lb, meaning Pass The Hat will race off 9st 13lb.

Moore, based near Naas in County Kildare, said today: “We have been looking for some better ground for Pass The Hat and I am hoping they don’t get too much rain at Doncaster before Saturday.

“I was very happy with his last run at Punchestown. It was a nice performance and gave us the encouragement to travel over with him. He hasn’t won over three miles but has run some good races at the trip and I think he gets it on good ground.

“We have had the Sky Bet Chase in mind for Pass The Hat for quite a while as it looked like a race where he would hopefully get his preferred going. We will see how he gets on Saturday and then make plans for the rest of the season.”

Other leading contenders include the Charlie Longsdon-trained Coologue (9/1, Brian Hughes, 10st 6lb), who was second in the Grade Two December Novices’ Chase at Doncaster last month, and revitalised 12-year-old Aachen (12/1, Venetia Williams/Charlie Deutsch, 11st 4lb), who has risen 26lb in the handicap already this season.

Dolatulo (16/1, Warren Greatrex/Denis O’Regan, 10st 13lb) took the Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at Wetherby in 2014, while Le Reve (16/1, Lucy Wadham/Nico de Boinville, 10st 13lb) and Double Ross (16/1, Nigel Twiston-Davies/Ryan Hatch, 11st 6lb) have also displayed a high level of form in handicap chases.

Emma Lavelle relies on Gullinbursti (16/1, James Davies, 10st 1lb) and Court By Surprise (20/1, Daryl Jacob,10st 7lb), with No Planning (16/1, Sue Smith/Paddy Brennan, 10st 4lb), Ikorodu Road (20/1, Graeme McPherson/Harry Skelton, 10st) and Distime (33/1, Sam Drake/Jonathan England, 10st) completing the field.

Michael Shinners, Racing PR Manager at Sky Bet, said: “We are all set for what promises to be a cracking renewal of the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster on Saturday.

“As the market suggests, it looks set to be a very competitive affair with a number of exciting younger horses taking on established performers. In light of this, we will be paying four places on the Sky Bet Chase, the richest race of the Jump season at Doncaster.”

Sky Bet Chase – Sky Bet prices:
5/1 Le Mercurey; 6/1 Ziga Boy; 7/1 Buywise, Holywell; 9/1 Coologue; 12/1 Aachen, Dolatulo, Pass The Hat; 16/1 Double Ross, Gullinbursti, Le Reve, No Planning; 20/1 Court By Surprise, Ikorodu Road; 33/1 Distime
Each-way 1/4 odds 1-2-3-4

About Sky Bet
Sky Bet is the sports betting division of Sky Betting & Gaming, headquartered in Leeds and led by Chief Executive, Richard Flint. Sky Bet was formed in 2001 and has since grown to become one of the UK’s leading online bookmakers, with a team of more than 850 employees and a strong track record of innovation. It allows betting through its website, mobile apps, telephone and interactively through Sky television. Sponsorships include the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster and the Sky Bet York Stakes.

The Sky Bet Chase
Listed Race, £80,000 Total Prize Fund. 3.15pm, Doncaster, Saturday, January 30, 2016. For five-year-olds and upwards rated, three miles (3m 6yds). Penalties: after January 17, a winner of a chase 5lb. Entries closed January 12, entries revealed January 13 (46 entries), weights revealed January 20. Five-day confirmation stage January 25 (22 confirmations), final declaration stage 10.00am, January 28 (15 declared runners).

Horse Age Wgt Owner Trainer/Jockey
HOLYWELL (IRE) 9 11-12 Gay Smith Jonjo O’Neill/Richie McLernon
DOUBLE ROSS (IRE) 10 11-06 Options O Syndicate Nigel Twiston-Davies/Ryan Hatch (3)
AACHEN 12 11-04 Tony Bloom Venetia Williams/Charlie Deutsch (5)
BUYWISE (IRE) 9 11-04 T Hywel Jones Evan Williams/Brian Harding
LE REVE (IRE) 8 10-13 P H Betts Lucy Wadham/Nico de Boinville
DOLATULO (FR) 9 10-13 Chasemore Farm Warren Greatrex/Denis O’Regan
LE MERCUREY (FR) 6 10-09 Colm Donlon & Chris Giles Paul Nicholls/Nick Scholfield
COURT BY SURPRISE (IRE) 11 10-07 Nick Mustoe Emma Lavelle/Daryl Jacob
COOLOGUE (IRE) 7 10-06 The New Club Partnership Charlie Longsdon/Brian Hughes
PASS THE HAT 9 10-04 Marcus Beresford/Athene Keatinge Arthur Moore IRE/Donagh Meyler (5)
NO PLANNING 9 10-04 Mrs Jacqueline Conroy Sue Smith/Paddy Brennan
GULLINBURSTI (IRE) 10 10-01 Nick Mustoe Emma Lavelle/James Davies
IKORODU ROAD 13 10-00 W J Odell Graeme McPherson/Harry Skelton
ZIGA BOY (FR) 7 10-00 Axom LI Alan King/Tom Cannon
DISTIME (IRE) 10 10-00 Mrs J Drake Sam Drake/Jonathan England

15 declared runners
1 Irish-trained

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