Mister Whitaker heads Sky Bet Chase entries

A mud-splattered Adrian Heskin and Mister Whitaker in action
A mud-splattered Adrian Heskin and Mister Whitaker in action

Cheltenham Festival scorer Mister Whitaker is among 37 entries for the Listed Sky Bet Chase (3.15pm) at Doncaster on Saturday, January 26.

The prestigious three-mile handicap, with record prize money of £100,000 in 2019, headlines a quality seven-race programme which also has three G2 contests and the Sky Bet Extra Place Races Handicap Chase (3.50pm).

Mister Whitaker, trained by Mick Channon in West Ilsley, Berkshire, improved dramatically over fences last season and ended the campaign with a thrilling head victory in the Listed Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

The seven-year-old has run twice so far this season, following up his decisive victory in the Listed Colin Parker Memorial Chase at Carlisle on November 4 with a creditable fourth in the competitive BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham 13 days later.

However, connections say ground conditions will dictate whether he is stepped up to three miles for the first time in his career at Doncaster.

Jack Channon, assistant to his father, said: "Unless we get a right downpour by Friday, Mister Whitaker won't be running at Kempton on Saturday.

"He will have an entry next week in a handicap chase at Ascot, and also the Grade Three at Cheltenham on trials day which is the same day as the Sky Bet Chase.

"If the ground turns up soft he will stick at two and a half, but if it is on the quick side we will look at going three miles in the Sky Bet Chase.

"It was always the plan to give him a break after Cheltenham, as he had two quick races.

"I do think he will improve for going up to three miles as that will be his trip going forward."

Looking further, ahead the Tim Radford-owned gelding could take his chance in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Channon added: "He has got an entry in the Gold Cup. It is shaping up to be quite open and my dad and Tim Radford are not ones to shirk a challenge.

"He has got a similar profile to Clan Des Obeaux and look what he did in the King George

"He will be in the Ryanair as well and the handicaps at the Festival if he doesn't cut it at graded level, so we have all options covered."

Mister Whitaker is the 10/1 joint-favourite with Sky Bet alongside Ladbrokes Trophy third Dingo Dollar, whose trainer Alan King captured back-to-back renewals of the Sky Bet Chase with Ziga Boy (2016 & 2017).

Last year's winner Wakanda (16/1 with Sky Bet), trained by Sue Smith in West Yorkshire, has the chance to emulate Ziga Boy, who is the only multiple winner of the Sky Bet Chase.

Somerset handler Paul Nicholls has six entries to choose from, the most of any trainer, as he chases a third Sky Bet Chase victory. The Nicholls sextet is headed by lightly-raced nine-year-old Give Me A Copper (14/1), who has not been seen out since capturing a novices' chase in November, 2017 and is part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson and TV presenter Jeremy Kyle, recent Kempton Park scorer Adrien Du Pont (16/1) and last year's runner-up Warrriors Tale (16/1).

Nicky Henderson and Nigel Twiston-Davies are both represented in the 2019 Sky Bet Chase. Henderson, whose stables are north of Lambourn, has entered Gold Present (14/1) and recent course and distance scorer O O Seven (14/1), while Gloucestershire-based Twiston-Davies' three entries include Go Conquer (16/1) and Ballykan (20/1).

Brian Boranha (20/1) had his the Sky Bet Chase bid decided following a nine-length victory in the Durham National over three miles and five furlongs at Sedgefield in October.

The progressive eight-year-old also has form over shorter trips, having won a three-mile handicap chase at Southwell in May.

Malton trainer Peter Niven, who won the Sky Bet Chase as a jockey on Dalkey Sound (1991) and Carbisdale (1994), revealed: "Brian Boranha is grand.

"He is a better ground horse so I have been saving him for a race like the Sky Bet Chase - it is a race I loved when I was riding.

"Brian Boranha is a nice type of horse and hopefully he is up to this sort of grade.

"He won over further last time, but I don't think the drop back in trip will be a problem at a track like Doncaster. They generally go a nice gallop and it tends to sort them out up the straight, which will suit him.

"His long-term target is the Scottish Grand National and if he could run well in the Sky Bet Chase beforehand, I would be delighted."

Willie Boy (20/1) has been entered following an impressive 11-length victory in a handicap chase over just shy of two and a half miles at Wetherby on December 26.

His handler Charlie Longsdon, based in Gloucestershire, said: "I was delighted with Willie Boy's win at Wetherby on Boxing Day.

"Everything suggests that he should be able to get three miles as he is a big, galloping sort.

"All being well, the Sky Bet Chase is where we would like to go with him."

Other notable entries include likely top-weight Minella Rocco (Jonjo O'Neill, 16/1), who was runner-up behind Sizing John in the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup, and BetVictor Gold Cup third Guitar Pete (Nicky Richards, 16/1).

Weights for the Sky Bet Chase will be revealed on Wednesday, January 16.

Sky Bet Chase - Sky Bet prices:

10/1 Dingo Dollar, Mister Whitaker;

14/1 Give Me A Copper, Gold Present, O O Seven;

16/1 Adrien du Pont, Barney Dwan, Favorito Buck's, Go Conquer, Guitar Pete, Minella Rocco, Mount Mews, Rene's Girl, Singlefarmpayment, Sizing Codelco, Wakanda, Warriors Tale;

20/1 Ballykan, Brian Boranha, Calipto, Glen Rocco, No Hassle Hoff, Touch Kick, Willie Boy;

25/1 Art Mauresque, Buywise, Calett Mad, Carole's Destrier, Casse Tete, Federici, Impulsive Star, Monbeg River, On Tour, Pobbles Bay, Shanroe Santos;

33/1 Kansas City Chief;

50/1 Halo Moon

Russell Smith, Executive Director of Doncaster Racecourse, declared: "We have increased the prize fund of our feature jump race, the Sky Bet Chase, by £20,000.

"This is a significant investment that demonstrates our commitment to the race. The Sky Bet Chase is now as valuable as any other Jump race in Yorkshire with a total prize of £100,000."

Michael Shinners of Sky Bet said: "The Sky Bet Chase is the oldest race in Sky Bet's sponsorship portfolio, with Sky Bet first supporting it in 2003.

"The race carries record prize money this year of £100,000, up from £80,000 in 2018, and we have been rewarded with 37 excellent entries.

"Promising second-season chasers Mister Whitaker and Dingo Dollar top Sky Bet's market at 10/1 in what looks a wide-open race."

Doncaster also races on Friday, January 25 and Sky Bet supports all seven races including the £30,000 Sky Bet Best Odds Guaranteed Handicap Chase (1.55pm) over an extended two miles and the £20,000 Listed Sky Bet Top Price Promise Fillies' Juvenile Hurdle (2.30pm) over a similar trip.


GET THE FULL PICTURE: Don't miss out on FREE video replays and our fantastic My Stable tracker. Log in now and become a Sporting Life Insider.

Related horse racing links

Like what you've read?
Help your friends Know It All by sharing this article to your social media.

Most Read Racing

Check out our latest daily racing preview1

Friday's racing preview

Anita Chambers makes Shamshon her best bet on Friday and she has a tip for every race.

2

Daily Nap: Alainn the ace

David Ord hopes a well-handicapped mare is capable of successfully conceding weight to all her rivals at Chepstow on Friday.

Haydock - inspect for Saturday card3

Snow threat to Haydock

Haydock's feature Peter Marsh Chase meeting on Saturday must survive a 7.30am inspection.

Favourites do not have a great record in the Peter Marsh4

Big-trends trends: Peter Marsh Chase

We've teamed up with Weatherbys to highlight the key trends from the past 10 editions of the Peter Marsh Chase.

Musselburgh Racecourse5

Musselburgh frozen off

Friday afternoon's race meeting at Musselburgh has been abandoned due to a frozen track.

Most Read Racing

Check out our latest daily racing preview1

Friday's racing preview

Anita Chambers makes Shamshon her best bet on Friday and she has a tip for every race.

2

Daily Nap: Alainn the ace

David Ord hopes a well-handicapped mare is capable of successfully conceding weight to all her rivals at Chepstow on Friday.

Haydock - inspect for Saturday card3

Snow threat to Haydock

Haydock's feature Peter Marsh Chase meeting on Saturday must survive a 7.30am inspection.

Favourites do not have a great record in the Peter Marsh4

Big-trends trends: Peter Marsh Chase

We've teamed up with Weatherbys to highlight the key trends from the past 10 editions of the Peter Marsh Chase.

Musselburgh Racecourse5

Musselburgh frozen off

Friday afternoon's race meeting at Musselburgh has been abandoned due to a frozen track.

Next Race Off

12:25 Vincennes
10
(0)
Gazelle Du Corta
J: M Mottier
11
(0)
Generation Smart
J: M Abrivard
5
(0)
Gallica Gede
J: D Bonne
9
(0)
Greta Dream
J: L M David
7
(0)
Go Along
J: Y Lebourgeois
12
(0)
Grace Dhelpa
J: J P Maillard
8
(0)
Glamour Perle
J: J M Bazire
1
(0)
Gagnante Mesloise
J: P Belloche
6
(0)
Gaelique Girl
J: F Nivard
4
(0)
Giroflee De Toues
J: G A Pou Pou
3
(0)
Girl Des Mottes
J: Ch Dreux
2
(0)
Gavarnie Lebel
J: P Y Verva

Racing Tips

Check out our latest daily racing preview

Friday's racing preview

Anita Chambers makes Shamshon her best bet on Friday and she has a tip for every race.

Favourites do not have a great record in the Peter Marsh

Big-trends trends: Peter Marsh Chase

We've teamed up with Weatherbys to highlight the key trends from the past 10 editions of the Peter Marsh Chase.

Check out our preview of the day's action

Saturday's racing preview

Global Citizen is Anita Chambers' best bet for Saturday and she has a tip for every race in the UK and Ireland.