Go Native in Sky Bet Chase

  • By: Ben Linfoot
  • Last Updated: January 24 2014, 16:25 GMT

Ben Linfoot seeks out the value in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster and on Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham.

Native Gallery (right): Worth a bet in the Sky Bet Chase
Native Gallery (right): Worth a bet in the Sky Bet Chase

It's hard to know where to look there is so much going on this weekend, but I'm going to start with the best betting race in the UK on Saturday - the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster.

Paul Nicholls' Unioniste headlines a 15-strong cast and his presence is significant as he is the sole representative from a handful of initial entries from Ditcheat.

The last time he ran in a handicap he won in a canter with Harry Derham claiming 5lb and history could well repeat itself on Town Moor as on his best form, his win at Aintree two starts ago, he's arguably well treated.

If he bounces back from his disappointing run in the Lexus Chase he could well win, but he hasn't been missed and at prices around 9/2 I'm happy to pass him over.

The same goes for Gullinbursti who was second to Rocky Creek in the Grade 2 hurdle on this card two years ago and is interesting, but he has halved in price in the last week and I'm reluctant to get involved at 8/1.

The one I do like at the prices is NATIVE GALLERY at 14/1, as he belied his inexperience over fences when finishing third to Planet Of Sound at Kempton two weeks ago.

In the context of his career that was a tremendous effort and I'm convinced he's going to end up being a better chaser than he was a hurdler - if that's the case he's very well handicapped.

It was just his second start over fences at Kempton, and his first since winning a maiden chase at Folkestone three years ago, but he jumped like an old hand and with that experience under his belt I'd expect some improvement to come, perhaps a significant amount.

Rated 143 at his best over timber, he raced off 133 at Kempton and has been dropped a further 2lb to 131 on Saturday, but given the way he sailed over his fences at the Sunbury track he should leave that sort of figure behind in his chasing career.

He tackled three miles for the first time under rules at Kempton too, but three miles in soft ground holds no fears for this dual point to point winner and if anything he was a little outpaced by Planet Of Sound last time.

That is a concern on Saturday, but a strong pace looks highly likely with Night In Milan and Mart Lane two horses that like to get on with things.

They could set things up for a hold-up horse like Native Gallery, and, at 14s, I'm keen to have him on side.

Down at Cheltenham, Festival Trials Day looks set to be as informative as ever, though with more rain forecast the ground could be heavy by the time I turn up at Prestbury Park.

With that in mind I'll keep bets to a minimum for now, but I do think OUR MICK is worth chancing now he returns to Cheltenham.

In three efforts at the track he's run well - when third in the 2012 JLT off 144, when unseating at the third last when looking likely to give Katenko a thing or two to think about in this race last year (off 145) and when finishing runner-up in the 2013 JLT (also off 145).

Things haven't gone to plan since then, but he has significantly dropped 5lb in the handicap to 140 and with first-time blinkers applied he can go well now back at Cheltenham.

He's also proven himself on heavy ground a couple of times which is vital, while his ability to stay further could be called upon late on, especially if Sew On Target doesn't get his own way up front again.

Ben Linfoot's Value Bet Aim: The Value Bet is designed to generate long-term profit by searching for overpriced horses in the feature weekend races and at the big Festivals in the UK. Running total: +258.81pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).

  • Posted at 1625 GMT on 24/01/2014.