Side with Union at Doncaster
Unioniste can land Saturday's Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster, says Chris Wilson. He has a tip for every UK and Irish race.
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CHELTENHAM: 12.40 Goodwood Mirage, 1.15 Annacotty, 1.50 Tap Night, 2.25 Rocky Creek, 3.00 Red Sherlock, 3.30 Big Buck's, 4.10 Amore Alato.
DONCASTER: 12.25 Centasia, 12.55 Rock On Ruby, 1.30 King Of The Wolds, 2.05 Annie Power, 2.40 Racing Pulse, 3.15 UNIONISTE (NAP), 3.50 Side Step.
LEOPARDSTOWN: 1.05 Ballychorus, 1.40 Champagne James, 2.15 Djakadam, 2.50 Jacksonslady, 3.25 Blood Cotil, 3.55 Zabana, 4.25 Never Never.
LINGFIELD: 12.15 Little Big Man, 12.50 Pharoh Jake, 1.25 Random Success, 2.00 Clear Spell, 2.35 Veeraya, 3.10 After The Storm, 3.45 Robin Hoods Bay, 4.20 Paddy's Saltantes.
DOUBLE: Unioniste and Random Success.
Unioniste can make short shrift of a big weight by taking top honours in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster on Saturday.
Paul Nicholls' six-year-old is the best horse in the big three-mile handicap and will love conditions on Town Moor.
The ground is almost certainly going to be demanding, and Unioniste's best form to date has been in a quagmire.
This was most evident at Cheltenham last season when he trounced a strong-looking field by upwards of 11 lengths in the December Gold Cup.
The John Hales-owned chaser has won five races from nine starts over fences, so might have been considered a little disappointing in the Grade One Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas.
A distinct lack of pace in Ireland did not help his cause that day, though, as he stayed on purposefully two fences from home and seemingly still full of running.
In any event, an 11-length beating by Bobs Worth hardly represents a disaster as he takes a seismic drop in grade.
Unioniste must shoulder 11st 12lb in South Yorkshire, but Calgary Bay did the business off a similar weight two years ago and Nicholls' grey is a better horse than that one.
The appointment of 5lb claimer Harry Derham, who was on board in the December Gold Cup, also offsets some of the burden.
Night In Milan and Native Gallery are interesting lower down the handicap, but Unioniste is the class act in the race and should be followed accordingly.
Nicholls has again been the man to follow on a Saturday this season, and could be in for another vintage day as he has a clutch of live contenders on trials afternoon at Cheltenham.
Pick of the litter, of course, is Big Buck's, who makes a welcome return to action in the galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle.
There will be plenty of punters prepared to take on the 11-year-old, who has his first start for 420 days with a new jockey in Sam Twiston-Davies.
But Nicholls insists his star has yet to wane following his protracted absence, while there is little evidence to suggest the next best in the betting, Reve De Sivola, has what it takes to seize the upper hand from the four-times World Hurdle winner.
Rocky Creek can bring up a key Ditcheat treble by winning the Argento Chase.
Nicholls was deflated after the deeply progressive eight-year-old succumbed to Triolo D'Alene in the Hennessy, but he travelled beautifully that day against a horse who had the benefit of a previous run this season.
Rocky Creek is still open to limitless potential - he has had just six starts over fences - and should not be knocked off his stride too severely if the ground turns heavy.
The Gold Cup and the Grand National will remain on his radar if all goes to plan.
Of more value, though, could be a little interest in Tap Night in the freebets.com Trophy Chase.
Lucinda Russell's chestnut has fallen to a mark of 142 for this Grade Three after a couple of no-shows in the Paddy Power Gold Cup and in the December Gold Cup.
The key aspect to a predicted upturn in fortunes, however, is if the forecast rain arrives as Tap Night nearly always delivers the goods on heavy ground.
Random Success has the scope to reach a lot higher than division two of the Compare Bookmakers At bookmakers.co.uk Sprint Series Round 4 Handicap at Lingfield.
Roger Charlton's four-year-old filly looked exceedingly smart at this track on January 10 when she tootled home by an eased-down three-quarters of a length from Roy's Legacy.
The daughter of Shamardal has gone up 5lb, but she still ought to prove a good deal better than her new mark of 63.
This step up to six furlongs is unlikely to stifle her development seeing as she ran so well over course and distance on New Year's Eve.
Pharoh Jake was third behind Random Success earlier this month and can give the form some gravitas with victory in division one.
The manner in which she galloped towards the line, another half a length in arrears of Charlton's inmate, bodes very well indeed - even in spite of her rather elevated mark.